Brit's U.S. Tribute Earns Flypast
A British man’s quietly persistent tribute to an American B-17 bomber crew he believes sacrificed their lives for him became a national tribute last week, complete with a major flypast of U.S. Air Force hardware. Tony Foulds, then eight years old, and his friends were playing in a field near Sheffield when the bomber appeared over the trees on Feb. 22, 1944. The crew of the battle-damaged Flying Fortress may have targeted the field for an emergency. Instead, the stricken aircraft, called Mi Amigo, crashed in the adjacent woods, killing all 10 American crew members. Foulds told British media he could see crew members wildly waving their arms out the windows and later realized they were trying to get the kids to get out of the way of the crashing airplane. Foulds said their last-minute course change saved his life. He’s spent his spare time in the last 75 years looking after a memorial honoring the crash victims but his devotion went largely unnoticed until a famous TV host out for a walk happened on Foulds working on the memorial six weeks ago.
Dan Walker, a presenter on BBC Breakfast, was taken by Foulds’ story and started a social media campaign to arrange a flypast on the 75th anniversary of the tragic day. U.S. Air Force officials saw the tweet and committed to a major show of American air power. As word spread, the tribute became a major event and thousands showed up to watch a MC-130J, V-22 Osprey, F-16s and a KC-135 fly over the park. A vintage DC-3 and an RAF Typhoon also took part. A flight of four F-15 Strike Eagles finished the flypast with a missing man formation. Foulds also got to meet family members of some of the crew members who died in the crash. A new campaign has been started to have Foulds’ efforts formally recognized by the Queen.