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UK community dedicates memorial to fallen US Airmen

A memorial stone is unveiled during a dedication at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust in Cley-Next-the Sea Jan. 6, 2017. The stone was dedicated to the four Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice when their HH-60G helicopter crashed on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

A memorial stone is unveiled during a dedication at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust in Cley-Next-the Sea Jan. 6, 2017. The stone was dedicated to the four Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice when their HH-60G helicopter crashed on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Local community members comfort Marcia Ruane, mother of Capt. Sean Ruane, as she views the memorial stone dedicated to her son and three other aircrew Jan. 6, 2017. Capt. Sean Raune, Capt. Christopher Stover, Tech. Sgt Dale Mathews and Staff Sgt Afton Ponce were killed when an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed on the Norfolk coast Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Local community members comfort Marcia Ruane, mother of Capt. Sean Ruane, as she views the memorial stone dedicated to her son and three other aircrew Jan. 6, 2017. Capt. Sean Raune, Capt. Christopher Stover, Tech. Sgt Dale Mathews and Staff Sgt Afton Ponce were killed when an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed on the Norfolk coast Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Nigel Pickover, Archant Editor Emeritus and organizer of the memorial dedication, speaks to a gathering of family, friends, U.S. Airmen and U.K. community members during the Jolly 22 memorial dedication, Jan. 6, 2017. A memorial stone was dedicated to the four Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice during a low-flying training mission on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Nigel Pickover, Archant Editor Emeritus and organizer of the memorial dedication, speaks to a gathering of family, friends, U.S. Airmen and U.K. community members during the Jolly 22 memorial dedication, Jan. 6, 2017. A memorial stone was dedicated to the four Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice during a low-flying training mission on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Lt. Col. Bernard Smith, 56th Rescue Squadron commander, speaks during the Jolly 22 memorial dedication, Jan. 6, 2017. Three years ago, the 56th Rescue Squadron and 48th Fighter Wing felt the tragic loss of four Liberty Airmen, when an HH-60G Pave Hawk crashed on the Norfolk coast while participating in a low-level training mission Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Lt. Col. Bernard Smith, 56th Rescue Squadron commander, speaks during the Jolly 22 memorial dedication, Jan. 6, 2017. Three years ago, the 56th Rescue Squadron and 48th Fighter Wing felt the tragic loss of four Liberty Airmen, when an HH-60G Pave Hawk crashed on the Norfolk coast while participating in a low-level training mission Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Family, friends, U.S. Airmen and U.K. community members gather at Cley-Next-the-Sea to watch an HH-60G Pave Hawk flyover during a memorial ceremony Jan. 6, 2017. A memorial stone was dedicated to the four aircrew members who made the ultimate sacrifice during a low-level training mission on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Family, friends, U.S. Airmen and U.K. community members gather at Cley-Next-the-Sea to watch an HH-60G Pave Hawk flyover during a memorial ceremony Jan. 6, 2017. A memorial stone was dedicated to the four aircrew members who made the ultimate sacrifice during a low-level training mission on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Marcia Ruane, mother of Capt. Sean Ruane, and Annette Hudson, Eastern Daily Press graphic journalist, view the memorial stone following the dedication ceremony Jan. 6, 2017. Hudson designed the memorial stone dedicated to the four fallen Airmen of Jolly 22 who perished on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Marcia Ruane, mother of Capt. Sean Ruane, and Annette Hudson, Eastern Daily Press graphic journalist, view the memorial stone following the dedication ceremony Jan. 6, 2017. Hudson designed the memorial stone dedicated to the four fallen Airmen of Jolly 22 who perished on Jan. 7, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephanie Longoria)

Cley-Next-the Sea, England -- Three years ago, the U.S. Air Force lost four Airmen from the 56th Rescue Squadron who made the ultimate sacrifice, Jan. 7, 2014.

When an HH-60G Pave Hawk, crashed on the Norfolk coast during low-level training, it claimed the lives of two pilots, Capt. Sean Ruane and Capt. Christopher Stover, and two special missions aviators, Tech. Sgt. Dale Mathews and Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce.

Today, the British communities of Cley-Next-the-Sea and Salthouse, demonstrated their unwavering support of the U.S. Air Force community in England, by unveiling and dedicating a memorial stone to honor the fallen aircrew of Jolly 22.

The dedication began when a two-ship of 56th RQS HH-60Gs performed a missing man flyover. As the helicopters disappeared into the horizon, the memorial stone was revealed, Nigel Pickover, Archant Editor Emeritus and organizer of the memorial dedication, offered a few words to those who gathered near the site of the crash.

"We are gathered here today to honor and remember four wonderful colleagues and friends whose lives were lost three years ago," Pickover said. “Three years gone, four lives lost, but the bright light of their memory shines through."

Following the tragic event, the community never forgot the 56th RQS or the greater 48th Fighter Wing family. The 48th FW received unending support from the local community and helped keep memories of the crew of Jolly 22 alive.

“I am deeply touched and so are all the members in the squadron, by the love and support that you are showing us here today,” said Lt. Col. Bernard Smith, 56th RQS commander. “It was shown three years ago at the site and has left a mark in everyone that was there.”

Jolly 22 will never be forgotten.

“This is personally one of the hardest times of the year for me,” Smith said. "Four of my brothers and sister was taken from us far too soon. The pain is very real and is there every day for me. One thing that gives me peace, and others as well, is the love in the community that we’ve seen.”

Smith ended the ceremony by thanking everyone involved in the memorial dedication, and he talked specifically about how each fallen Airman reflected the rescue motto: “These things we do, that others may live.”