Hero of the 1953 Floods, Reis Leming, would have been 82 today. He had been looking forward to taking part in 60th anniversary celebrations of the USAF 67th Air Rescue Service squadron.
That was first activated at RAF Sculthorpe near Fakenham on November 14, 1952.
Unfortunately, a fall in his back garden left Reis with a broken hip and sadly he died in hospital yesterday.
The tragic accident happened just days after British Airways had offered to upgrade flights to England from the USA for Reis and his wife Kathy at no extra cost.
However, the 60th anniversary of the formation of the 67th will still be celebrated in Hunstanton this Saturday, when current members of the squadron, now based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, and renamed the 67th Special Operations Squadron, will march from the area worst affected by the floods to the Flood Memorial in the Esplanade Gardens for the 31 victims who died that terrible night.
Reis’s single-handed rescue of 27 people from the flood waters would not have been possible had it not been for the quick response of the 67th.
It is therefore fitting that US airmen from the 67th should be in Hunstanton to commemorate this heroic achievement.
It is equally fitting that a sign naming the footpath through the gardens: ‘Reis Leming Way’ will be unveiled by the Commander of the 67th Lieutenant Colonel Shelley Rodriguez.
The parade will start from South Beach Road at 10.20am entering the promenade via the powerboat ramp.
After continuing along the promenade as far as The Green, the parade will turn into Beach Terrace Road, and then march between the Upper and Lower Green to the Flood Memorial.
This route will enable as many people as possible to witness the parade, which will be led by members of the City of Norwich Pipe Band and include a Colour Party and an Honour Guard from the 67th.
A World War II Willys Jeep, which would have been used to transport Reis, will be the only vehicle in the parade, driven by the Chairman of the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group, Barry Beck – wearing USAAF uniform from that period.
A reception will be held afterwards at the Community Centre for members of Hunstanton Civic Society, which is hosting this event and for members of other participating organisations, but everyone wishing to attend must let me know by November 8, preferably by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
A few years ago, events of this kind would have been covered in Flotsam’s Hunstanton Notes, written by former Town Clerk, Roger Hoverd.
Sadly, he too has passed away and his funeral will take place at 2.30pm on Monday, November 12 at St Mary’s Church Old Hunstanton. Family flowers only, donations to Tapping House.
Do you have any fond memories of our former correspondent Roger Hoverd, or Flotsam as he was known in these pages.
Let us know them on email@example.com or writing to us here at Limes House, Purfleet Street, Lynn, PE30 1HL.