Turnstone - Moving parade commemorates 60th anniversary of air rescue squadron
A wet start at Hunstanton on Saturday failed to dampen the enthusiasm of those celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 67th Air Rescue Squadron.
The parade was led by five pipers and four drummers from the City of Norwich Pipe Band, followed by some 60 USAF personnel drawn from the 67th Special Operations Squadron, based at RAF Mildenhall and the 56th Air Rescue Squadron, based at RAF Lakenheath.
The 67th Air Rescue Squadron was formed at RAF Sculthorpe in November 1952 and less than three months later made headlines for its heroic rescue work during the Norfolk Floods of 1953.
Town Mayor, Elaine Clutton and Civic Society president, Roy Clark travelled in a World War II Willys Jeep, driven by Barry Beck, chairman of the Norfolk Military Vehicles Group.
Civic Society and Town Council members took part in the parade, together with members of the Royal British Legion, the Fire & Rescue Service and Hunstanton Lions Club.
The parade went from the scene of the 1953 floods in South Beach Road to the Esplanade Gardens via the promenade and The Green. The ceremony at the Flood Memorial was made even more poignant by the absence of floods hero Reis Leming, who would have been the guest of honour had it not been for his death just days before the event. His flying jacket and photograph were carried in the Jeep in which he would have been transported.
The Commander of the 67th SOS, Lieutenant Colonel Shelley Rodriguez, read out the names of those who perished in the floods and a wreath was laid by the squadron’s most senior veteran, retired Colonel Bill Goodwin and its most junior member, Airman First Class Eric Wellman. A minute’s silence was followed by a lone piper playing a lament before Colonel Rodriguez unveiled the footpath through the gardens, Reis Leming Way.
At a reception in the Community Centre, the American guests were welcomed by Borough Council staff and Civic Society members. Replicas of the sign were presented to Colonel Rodriguez and to Flight Sergeant Mark Service of the RAF who had co-ordinated plans to include Hunstanton in the 60th anniversary celebrations.
Colonel Rodriguez presented a framed commemorative print to the town and one was also presented to me,for my part in staging the event.
The American flag was also given to the town and is certain to be flown next year on January 31st when Reis Leming and the 67th will once again be remembered with sincere affection and gratitude.
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Weather for King's Lynn
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North east