A service of commemorationn at Saltby to mark D-Day




A D-Day 80th anniversary event at Saltby airfield on Saturday (June 8) proved a huge success with American military representatives honouring an airfield rich in US history.

RAF Saltby was home to America’s 9th Troop Carrier Command during 1944, flying paratroopers of the US 82nd Airborne Division to Normandy as part of the liberation of Europe.

A commemorative service taken by RAF veteran Rev Brian McAvoy started the day, with Saltby’s WW2 role celebrated and recreated with talks and displays, including American jeeps and British Airborne Forces Riders’ motorcycles.

As the culmination of a D-Day project two years in the planning, Col Jon Tucker, commander of the US 314th Airlift Wing from Little Rock, Arkansas, flew from the States to the UK for the commemoration. The Airlift Wing is the modern-day equivalent of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing operating from the airfield in 1944.

Col Tucker arrived fresh from piloting the lead aircraft in the Normandy D-Day flypast on 6 June.

He said: “This is the honour of my career to be here today. As I was assuming command, I started discovering what a legacy we have. Prior to coming here we had dropped in Sicily, we had dropped in Italy, but it’s that day on June 6th and the late hours of June 5th, that serves as a seminal moment in the 314th’s history.

“We proudly tell every officer that comes to visit us that we flew on D-Day; we flew out of Saltby. So when the opportunity came I couldn’t have jumped faster to be here for this.

“I thank this community for what they did back on that day, how they cared for us, how they helped us succeed. We have not forgotten that legacy. Your story is being told and we will continue to tell it.”

Col Tucker presented a plaque to Saltby Airfield History Group member Ray Bennett, bearing the inscription ‘May the bond of brotherhood, friendship and unity forged here never be broken.”

The day was organised by South Kesteven District Council in partnership with Buckminster Gliding Club and the history group.

Author and Troop Carrier Command world authority Lt Col (Retd) Mark Vlahos was another American visitor. He gave an illustrated talk on Troop Carrier heritage in character and authentically dressed as Saltby wartime commander Col Clayton Stiles.

Heritage specialist Brian Riley spoke about the airborne forces of Britain, the United States and Poland and their local presence in 1944.

Darren Bond, an expert on America’s 82nd Airborne Division, illustrated paratrooper combat dress as worn by American and British airborne forces.


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