Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England -- --
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The Liberty Wing has a rich history dating back to before World War II. Decades of service members have walked the grounds and played their role in shaping the 48th Fighter Wing as it stands today.
Cole Heard, son of Lt. Col. Jason Heard, 48th Fighter Wing Chief of Plans and Programs, had the vision to honor that history by building a heritage arch.
Construction on the arch began at RAF Lakenheath on Feb. 27 and it was assembled at its final location standing between the Strike Eagle Complex and the flightline on March 6.
After construction was complete, Col. Jason Camiletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander, and Cole officially presented the arch to the wing through a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The arch was built as Cole’s Eagle Scout project, an opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership abilities while completing a project for the benefit of their community. It was the combined effort of Troop 215, the Lakenheath High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and over 50 additional volunteers.
The arch is constructed from solid oak beams and weighs over 2,500 pounds. The support beams are adorned with museum panels showcasing the Liberty Wing history. They are also painted with the classic “invasion stripes” like the ones painted on the 48th FW aircraft that flew in WWII during D-Day on June 6, 1944.
The cross beam at the top of the arch reminds Airmen and Aircrew that the “Fight’s On” as they walk toward the flightline, and to “Stand Tall” as they return.
“It serves as a call to action for Airmen to be ready for any fight, anywhere, anytime,” said Cole. “The fight for readiness and eventual victory begins through this arch.”
The cross beam will also contain a time capsule filled with photos and mementos from members of the Liberty Wing community.
Born on RAF Lakenheath and stationed here for four of his dad’s assignments as a fighter pilot, Cole said he came up with the idea because he wanted to give something back to the base he loves.
“It will be a lasting tribute dedicated to all Liberty Airmen past, present, and future,” said Cole. “I hope it will inspire them as they go to carry out the 48th FW mission every day.”