Lakenheath Airmen attend WWII ceremony

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (USAFENS) -- Several Airmen from Lakenheath’s 372nd Training Squadron, Det. 16 recently represented the 48th Fighter Wing at the annual World War II remembrance ceremony at RAF Ibsley in Ringwood, Hampshire.

The ceremony honored RAF Ibsley’s British and American servicemembers who perished during the war.

The history of the Liberty Wing began in England at RAF Ibsley as the 48th Fighter Group in March 1944, flying the legendary P-47 Thunderbolt. One month after arrival, the 48th Group began to fly missions over France. More than 3,000 active duty Army Air Force members lived on station to support the war effort.

“It is only fitting we pay tribute to those members of the 48th Fighter Group who gave their lives for our freedom,” said 1st Lt. Dustin Lapacka, 372nd TRS, Det. 16 commander.

Det. 16 played an important role in honoring those who were lost for the more than 60 veterans in attendance. The RAF Ibsley Historical Society Honor Guard posted the colors, Lieutenant Lapacka read a passage of remembrance, the vicar delivered a brief message and the Royal Air Force servicemembers performed a solemn wreath-laying ceremony. Several members of the audience had small wooden crosses, which they placed near the wreath in memory of lost loved ones.

After the ceremony, veterans entertained Liberty Wing Airmen with the stories of barn-storming, dog fights and how British airmen passed the time between missions joking with American fighter pilots.

“Every year gets better and more fun,” said Tech. Sgt. Joe Aylsworth, Det. 16 avionics instructor and three-time participant of the RAF Ibsley memorial ceremony. “More people come with more interesting stories.”

Det. 16 has been the point of contact for this event for the last three years.

“Detachment 16 will certainly be returning next year. You couldn’t keep us away from this ceremony,” said Lieutenant Lapacka.