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Stephen Wisdom, a docent at the American Air Museum in Duxford, shows children the uniform and gear used by pilots during World War II.

Stephen Wisdom, a docent at the American Air Museum in Duxford, shows children the uniform and gear used by pilots during World War II. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Stephen Wisdom, a docent at the American Air Museum in Duxford, shows children the uniform and gear used by pilots during World War II.

Stephen Wisdom, a docent at the American Air Museum in Duxford, shows children the uniform and gear used by pilots during World War II. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Airman 1st Class Angela Lowe, with the 48th Security Forces Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, gets mauled by one of the unit's police dogs during a demonstration Friday at the American Air Museum in Duxford. Lowe was one of 200 volunteers from the base who helped out at the event for Suffolk-area youth who live near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall.

Airman 1st Class Angela Lowe, with the 48th Security Forces Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, gets mauled by one of the unit's police dogs during a demonstration Friday at the American Air Museum in Duxford. Lowe was one of 200 volunteers from the base who helped out at the event for Suffolk-area youth who live near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Samuel-Jay Hale, 7, plays on a fire truck from the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron. The Red Lodge resident was one of 300 Suffolk-area youth who spent Friday at the American Air Museum with airmen from RAF Lakenheath.

Samuel-Jay Hale, 7, plays on a fire truck from the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron. The Red Lodge resident was one of 300 Suffolk-area youth who spent Friday at the American Air Museum with airmen from RAF Lakenheath. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Capt. Tim Worthington, with the 492nd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, runs the dunk tank at an event for Suffolk-area youth at the American Air Museum in Duxford Friday. Worthington was one of 200 volunteers from the base who helped out at the event for the kids who live near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall.

Capt. Tim Worthington, with the 492nd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, runs the dunk tank at an event for Suffolk-area youth at the American Air Museum in Duxford Friday. Worthington was one of 200 volunteers from the base who helped out at the event for the kids who live near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Capt. .Brad Caywood, with the 492nd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, helps Suffolk-area children build tin foil boats Friday at the American Air Museum in Duxford. Caywood was one of 200 volunteers from the base who helped out at the event for kids who live near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall.

Capt. .Brad Caywood, with the 492nd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, helps Suffolk-area children build tin foil boats Friday at the American Air Museum in Duxford. Caywood was one of 200 volunteers from the base who helped out at the event for kids who live near RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

DUXFORD — In an effort to reach out to the local communities around the two largest U.S. air bases in England, airmen from RAF Lakenheath spent Friday afternoon entertaining Suffolk-area youth at the American Air Museum.

Set behind the museum’s massive hangar full of World War II-era planes, the event was a chance for about 300 children to meet the U.S. troops behind the screaming jets that fly over their neighborhoods every day.

Twelve-year-old Sky Redman, of Newmarket, described it in one word: "Wicked!"

Judging from the children’s expressions, the carnival was a success. There was no shortage of fun between the F-15 flyover, police dog and falconry demonstrations, fire truck and ambulance displays, barbecue and games.

"We think it’s a lovely thing to put on for the children," said Red Lodge resident Clare Turnbull, whose 8-year-old son, Rhys, was all smiles as he raced around the grounds with friends. "They’d never get to see all this otherwise because we don’t go to the base."

Typically, the Air Force invites a few dozen children to a base, "but we wanted to give back to the community in a more active way," said Capt. Jonathan Bott of the 492nd Fighter Squadron, who helped coordinate the carnival with staff from the American museum, part of the Imperial War Museum Duxford near Cambridge.

The event is the brainchild of museum director and the honorary commander of the 492nd, Richard Ashton. It was conducted by about 200 volunteers from 11 Lakenheath units, Bott said.

The relationship between the U.S. Air Force and Duxford dates back to World War II when American units were stationed there. Duxford’s American Air Museum is a memorial to the 30,000 U.S. airmen who died flying from U.K. bases during the war.

Christian Pratt, the museum’s marketing director, said Friday’s event was inspired by a Christmas party U.S. troops hosted for British children at Duxford in 1943.

"The Americans really reached out to the community in a time of war … and we really just wanted to keep that link alive," Pratt said. "We wanted people to know that the [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] is not hidden behind the gate but really part of the community."


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