CAMBRIDGE, England --
More than 200 jolly people filled the Duxford Imperial War Museum for the 492nd Fighter Squadron’s Children’s Christmas party Dec. 1, 2018.
This year, Around 50 members and spouses from the 492nd FS ‘Madhatters’ collaborated with three charity organizations to help bring some extra joy this holiday season to children with serious or terminal illness or severe burns.
Volunteers entertained more than 100 children with carnival games, festive arts and crafts, pilot equipment displays, Morse code lessons, and a special visit and presents from Father Christmas himself.
Melissa Barnard brought her 9-year-old daughter to the festive event.
“It’s been wonderful. All the people we met have been are very nice, friendly and welcoming,” said Barnard. “Thank you very much to the team for putting on the party. We had a lovely day.”
The party’s roots extend back to the Second Great War, and it has grown considerably since its humble beginning.
“It started back in WWII when the 8th Air Force had bomber units here in England. The various bases around the East Anglia area would host a Christmas celebration for the local children,” said Capt. Daniel Hutto, 492nd FS F-15E Strike Eagle weapons system operator. “The 492nd FS took over the responsibility in 2007, and we’ve been doing it every year since then.”
In 2007, the event hosted about 15 families, and this year, more than 50 families were on hand to enjoy some holiday cheer.
“You look around and see everyone is in jovial spirits and really happy to help, participate and be a part of something like this,” said Lt. Col. Bill Wooten, 492nd FS commander.
Wooten extended a sincere thanks to the Duxford Imperial War Museum; the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Bardet-Biedl Syndrome UK and Children's Burns Club charity organizations; and every volunteer that helped make the event possible.
“Without your support there’s no way we could do any of this,” he said.