Search

We’ll miss you! Sadness as squadrons bid emotional final farewell to RAF Lakenheath

PUBLISHED: 15:11 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:15 16 May 2018

The last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath for the last time. Picture: Ian Burt

The last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath for the last time. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

The launch of a military Pave Hawk helicopter into the skies is always a stunning sight to behold.

The last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian BurtThe last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt

But this take-off was tinged with a mixture of sadness and pride, as it marked the end of two US military squadrons’ incredible service and popular presence on Suffolk soil.

The 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons at RAF Lakenheath have been widely acknowledged to have been a great credit to region during their time here.

But all good things must come to an end - and the two squadrons are relocating to Aviano Air Base, Italy, because of its more strategic and economically suited location.

With customary military precision, airmen 350 personnel and five HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters have been gradually moved to their new station in stages over the past several months.

The last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath for the last time. Picture: Ian BurtThe last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath for the last time. Picture: Ian Burt

But now a farewell service at RAF Lakenheath has marked the near completion of the move, announced in November 2015 - and proved an emotional occasion for all present.

Lt Col Leslie Semrau, 56th Rescue Squadron commander, said: “I’ll miss the community here.

“Since the moment I got here it’s been a very welcoming environment. I got to live nearby, between RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall, and enjoyed the experience.

“I love seeing the UK traffic overhead and I love the opportunities we had for integration with our UK partners.”

The crowd and photographers watching the last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian BurtThe crowd and photographers watching the last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt

She said their leaving marks the “end of an era” but that the relocation is a “fantastic opportunity”.

She added: “We absolutely love flying in the UK and training with our partners locally, but we’re also looking forward to the opportunity to get to Aviano Air Base and train with our partners in that region as well.

“We are always prepared to deploy in response to our nation and Allies’ needs worldwide. There’ll be a little bit of time to reconstitute the squadron and make sure we settle our families into the local area but, without a doubt, we will be ready to go when called on.

“This marks the end of an era for the 56th and 57th rescue squadrons. But no matter where we’re located, we remain ready to deliver combat search and rescue capabilities wherever and whenever they’re needed.”

An airmen waits for the last Pave Hawk helicopters to leave RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt An airmen waits for the last Pave Hawk helicopters to leave RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt

Major Seth Davis, commander of 57th Rescue Squadron: “We’re sad to be leaving but are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done while located at RAF Lakenheath and are excited about the squadrons’ new home in Italy.

“The relocation to Aviano Air Base provides us a strategic location to respond to deployment taskings across the US European and US Africa commands.”

Col Evan Pettus, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, said: “I am extraordinarily proud to have served with the men and women of the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons.

“Our rescue airmen personify values our nation holds dear and all service members strive to emulate.

The last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian BurtThe last Pave Hawk helicopters and airmen leaving RAF Lakenheath. Picture: Ian Burt

“During their time here, they have been directly responsible for saving countless lives as well as drawing us closer to our allies through cooperation, training and shared ideals.”

Other news

Yesterday, 19:19

Dramatic drone footage of a 600 tonne straw fire shows the ferocity and size of the blaze.

Yesterday, 14:57

A 600-tonne straw fire which took 15 hours to finally die down has been described as “catastrophic” by the mayor of Watton.

Yesterday, 10:41

Drivers are being forced to pay a “stealth tax”, it has been claimed, after it was revealed car owners in Norwich paid £74 on average last year to park their cars.

Yesterday, 09:19

A single mum of five said the pressure of paying for heating while she underwent treatment for cancer made her mental health “fall to pieces”.

Most Read

Yesterday, 14:57

A 600-tonne straw fire which took 15 hours to finally die down has been described as “catastrophic” by the mayor of Watton.

Read more
Norfolk Police
Yesterday, 19:19

Dramatic drone footage of a 600 tonne straw fire shows the ferocity and size of the blaze.

Read more
Tina Kiddell
Thursday, February 6, 2014

It was its down-at-heel aura that first attracted Polly Grieff to the crumbling Old Manor at Saham Toney.

Read more
Friday, December 22, 2017

The key to solving the 25-year riddle over the brutal murder of a schoolgirl less than a mile from her home lies within a small Norfolk community, police have said.

Read more
Wayland Wood
Yesterday, 07:31

Firefighters remained at the scene of a large straw stack fire which continued to burn more than 15 hours after the fire service arrived.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 7°C

min temp: -2°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Watton and Swaffham Times e-edition today
E-edition
Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Watton and Swaffham Times weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy