SEE VIDEO: Hunstanton celebrates its American links at freedom parade

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Residents and civic leaders have come together to celebrate Hunstanton’s links with the American air force unit that saved so many lives during the 1953 flood disaster.

Hundreds lined the streets as members of the US Air Force 67th Special Operations Squadron paraded on the day the unit was given the freedom of the town.

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton ANL-140410-191342009

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton ANL-140410-191342009

And the celebrations were concluded with a flypast from a MC-130J Commando II aircraft, one of the squadron’s planes.

Town mayor Carol Bower said she was “thrilled” to hold the civic office on such an historic occasion.

She added: “We have had a wonderful day with a very enthusiastic crowd.”

She also paid tribute to the many town businesses who decorated their shops with American-themed displays ahead of the parade.

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton ANL-140410-191557009

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton ANL-140410-191557009

Lt Col John Peak, the squadron’s commander, said he was “honoured and humbled” to accept the freedom scroll on behalf of the squadron, both past and present.

He said: “It’s the highlight of my career. I’ve been in the air force 19 years and to lead that squadron, I almost can’t put it into words.”

Thirty-one people, including 16 Americans, died in the disaster, but the death toll would have been far higher without the actions of American servicemen in the area.

Mrs Bower told the crowds that the squadron’s swift mobilisation on the night of January 31, 1953, had saved “countless” lives.

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton'

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton'

She said: “The experiences of the flood are indelibly etched on the memory of Hunstanton, as are the strong relationships forged that night.

“It is for this reason that we are, for the first time in our history, awarding the honour of freedom of the town.”

“We are so pleased to have the squadron here today to accept this.”

And Mr Peak said the bond between his squadron and Hunstanton was a symbol of the bigger Anglo-American link.

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton ANL-140410-191153009

The 67th USAF Special Operations Squadron Freedom March at Hunstanton ANL-140410-191153009

He said: “We’re partners in arms. We fight together every day and it speaks volumes to the enduring relationship between our two nations.”