Outgoing squadron commander emphasises town’s special bond

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On May 22 Hunstanton Town Council elected Andrew Murray as our new Town Mayor. In his acceptance speech, Mr Murray said he was very conscious of the honour it is to become mayor of this wonderful town.

He went on to say that his priorities for the coming year are to serve local residents and to lead a cohesive, efficient and productive council.

Six days later the new mayor was representing Hunstanton at RAF Mildenhall where Lt Col John Peak was relinquishing command of the USAF 67th Special Operations Squadron.

Lt Col Peak’s successor is Lt Col Bradley Downs who began his acceptance speech by thanking distinguished guests, fellow commanders, friends and family for being there. He then extended a special welcome to the guests and friends from Hunstanton, reminding everyone present that out of the tragic floods of 1953 a special bond had been formed between the 67th Special Operations Squadron and the town of Hunstanton. It drew applause when he said: “We look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come.”

After thanking those responsible for organising the change of command ceremony, Lt Col Downs said he was humbled and appreciative for the opportunity to command the 67th Special Operations Squadron.

“Over the past two years,” he said, “I have been fortunate to be part of the ‘Night Owls’ of the 67th SOS as the squadron has gone from establishing an initial operational capability in just over six months after the arrival of its first MC-130J Commando II aircraft, receiving its first operational tasking less than a month later, and since then, singularly changing the game for the long range employment of Special Operations Forces in both the European and African Theatres.”

There was a poignant reference to continuing the “Carpetbagger” legacy and the B-24 crews who operated in this same area during World War II. He also paid tribute to John Peak for his exceptional leadership and personal dedication and, on a more personal note, added: “I would not be here today were it not for the enduring and loving support of my family.”

Lt Col Downs thanked his English wife, Emma, for her unwavering support over the past 12 years and, on a lighter note, pointed out that after five years and two assignments in this country he hoped indoctrination from British friends and family would someday wear off, and their four children would accept that ‘real’ football is never played with a round ball, and that there really is such a thing as a summer season that lasts more than a month!

With a bit of luck one of our summer days this year will coincide with the Hunstanton carnival on June 28, when those of us invited to attend the change of command will extend a warm welcome to our friends from the 67th 
SOS as they join us in celebration of the ‘Star Spangled 
Banner’ and all things American!