On Friday, January 6, Hunstanton mayor, James Johnson, his wife Linda and 10 members of Hunstanton and District Civic Society accepted an invitation to attend the 67th SOS Change of Command ceremony at RAF Mildenhall.
Lt Col Bradley Downs was Operations Officer at the Freedom Parade in October 2014 and signed the Twinning Charter at a Ceremony hosted by the Civic Society in May 2016. He handed over command to Lt Col Jason Wright.
In his opening remarks, Col Lance Schmidt, Commander of the 352nd Special Operations Group extended a very special welcome to “our friends from Hunstanton”. He thanked them for being part of the many things that make serving in the UK such a privilege, and continued: “I can’t thank each of you enough for the time and energy you put into sustaining this very special relationship. It’s truly an honour to have you with us today.”
Addressing Lt Col Downs, Col Schmidt said: “I know it’s bittersweet for you to give up command today, but I can’t imagine being more proud of a command tour. You’ve absolutely crushed it. The devotion to this unit shown by you, Emma, and your family is remarkable. Under your command this squadron has fully transitioned the 67th SOS to the mc-130j airplane.”
Turning to Lt Col Wright, Col Schmidt said:
“This is an exciting day for you and your family and I can’t think of anyone more qualified to command in today’s challenging environment than you. Every day commanding airmen is a privilege and an honor and it doesn’t get much better than commanding this squadron, in this theatre.”
Lt Col Downs extended a special welcome to Civic Society Chairman Mrs. Terry Ashworth; Councilor Richard Bird; and all of the other friends from Hunstanton. He continued: “It’s a distinct privilege to have with us here today, Mr. Neil Quincey, one of the survivors of the 1953 Floods. He and his entire family were brought to safety by a 67th Airman (Reis Leming) during that tragic event. Since the floods of 1953, no other US Air Force squadron has shared a bond with any town in the United Kingdom that compares with that of the 67th and Hunstanton. Being a part of the Freedom of the Town and Twinning ceremony were absolutely two of the highlights of my Air Force career and I will remember them long after I depart this stage today. I am confident that this special relationship will continue to grow in the coming years. We are also honoured to welcome our squadron historian Mark Service and his son Cameron.”
Lt Col Wright thanked Lt Col Downs for his leadership and friendship over the past three years, and added: “It has truly been a pleasure to work with and for you. I have learned a lot from you and I greatly appreciate the trust and confidence you placed in me.”