A SIMPLE ceremony brought at least part of the busy USAF base at RAF Lakenheath to a halt as a murdered airman’s comrades marked his loss.
Senior Airman Nicholas Alden, 25, was shot dead last Wednesday by a German-born ethnic Albanian at Frankfurt Airport after the first leg of his journey from Lakenheath to Afghanistan.
On Friday, base police blocked the roads to Liberty Roundabout where, below a Stars and Stripes and an RAF Ensign at half mast on poles ringed with floral tributes, 48th Fighter Wing commander Col John Quintas said: “The wing family has suffered a tragic loss”.
Then three of his comrades from the wing’s security unit lowered the Stars and Stripes in his honour, watched by airforce personnel and families, including three more of his unit colleagues standing to attention at the roadside.
SA Alden, from South Carolina, leaves his wife Trish, a three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, who live in England. Ironically, he was born in Germany to parents who were both in the military.
SA Alden joined the USAF in Texas in 2007 and came to Lakenheath in November. He was with a 15-person security team bound for Afghanistan and was boarding a distinctive USAF blue bus to go to the nearby Ramstein airbase. The bus driver, Airman First Class Zachary Cuddeback, based in Germany, was also killed and two more Lakenheath men were injured.
Col Quintas said: “He was a great, great young kid who came to us from Alaska and airmen from there have been calling with their condolences. He has only been here a short time but he made an immediate impact on his arrival here.
“The wing is a very close community. There has been a great demonstration of compassion from all our airmen and women. I would also like to express my appreciation for the sympathy that has come from across the globe.”
Col Quintas said one of the injured airman was still critical and the other in a serious condition.
SA Alden’s wife was to be at a memorial service at RAF Lakenheath this morning. The funeral will be in South Carolina next week.