490th Bomb Group Memorial unveiled
By Tech Sgt. Matthew Plew, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 01, 2016
ROYAL AIR FORCE Lakenheath, England -- Over 100 attendees gathered to witness the unveiling of the 490th Bombardment Group Memorial, May 29, in the village of Brome, England. The ceremony was the culmination of a two-year effort by a small group of U.K. citizens from the Eye area of Suffolk to create a permanent monument honoring the men of the 490th for their contributions during World War II.
“Those men who came over here to fight, they’re our Americans,” said Tim Dean, 8th Air Force enthusiast and volunteer World War II re-enactor.
The 490th Bomb Group was moved to England in April 1944 to assist with the 8th Air Force operations. From June 1944 until August 1945, the men of the 490th destroyed airfields and coastal defenses in France during the invasion of Normandy. They struck bridges, rail lines, vehicles, road junctions, oil plants, tank factories, marshalling yards and aircraft plants all over Germany and transported French, Spanish and Belgian prisoners of war from Austria to Allied centers until the group’s deactivation on Nov. 7, 1945.
“The men of the 490th left behind a legacy of friendship, that both nations are grateful for,” said Ian McLachlan, author of “Eighth Air Force Bomber Stories".
Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing participated in the ceremony as a “ghost crew,” dressed in authentic World War II bomber attire, stood silently in the background while poppy blossoms were air dropped over the ceremony site.
In attendance was 92-year-old veteran, Si Spiegel, who once called Eye Airfield home. Spielgel, a native of New York, was assigned to the 490th during World War II, where he flew 35 missions against the Axis powers in Europe.
“This is beyond my wildest imagination,” said Spielgel. “When I first heard a monument was going to be out here, I just knew I had to come and from everyone, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”