ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England — American service members stationed in the United Kingdom observed Memorial Day May 25 at Madingley American Cemetery near Cambridge.
Several guest speakers, including the granddaughter of famous World War II hero Gen. James Doolittle, delivered messages of gratitude and inspiration to the crowd. Following the speeches, more than 100 floral decorations were placed at the base of the cemetery's Wall of the Missing by representatives from various military and civilian organizations.
Airman 1st Class Stephanie Vidal, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, carried the last floral decoration to be placed at the wall, and said it felt good to be a part of something so important.
The Airman, who has only been stationed at in England for two months, said "It's cool to see the families who have come out to this."
Following the invocation by 100th Air Refueling Wing Chaplain Maj. Stewart King, Hugh Duberly, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, gave a moving speech addressing the presence of the American military on English soil.
"You are very welcome visitors who have become a part of our community and way of life," he said. "We are honored to be here amongst you today at this somber ceremony, sharing with you your loss and ever grateful that you are still alongside us."
After Mr. Duberly's address, the microphone was turned over to Jonna Doolittle-Hoppes, whose grandfather led the famous heavy-bomber air raid on Tokyo in World War II. She spoke of her grandfather's admiration of his men, and how he did everything he could to personally contact the loved ones of all who had fallen under his command.
Once Ms. Doolittle-Hoppes had concluded her speech, the floral arrangements were laid in place, and the audience looked skyward as a KC-135 from the 100th ARW flew low over the cemetery, followed by a four-ship Missing Man formation of F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath.
In conclusion, "Amazing Grace" was performed on bagpipes by piper Dave Harper, and a 21-gun salute from the RAF Mildenhall Honor Guard rang out through the rows of white headstones followed by a final prayer, and the ceremony was done.