US Air Force thanks community for support after crash

Floral tributes outside RAF Lakenheath to those killed in the helicopter crash.

Floral tributes outside RAF Lakenheath to those killed in the helicopter crash.

The United States Air Force has thanked the surrounding community and UK civilian and military authorities for their support following a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of four airman last week.

Col Kyle Robinson, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath, said: “I would like to thank you all for your warmth and kindness.

“We’ve seen your support in so many forms this past week as the wing has come together to support the families and members of the 56th Rescue Squadron.”

Capt Sean Ruane, Capt Christopher Stover, Technical Sgt Dale Mathews, and Staff Sgt Afton Ponce were killed when a Pave Hawk HH-60G helicopter came down on the Norfolk coast, last week.

Their bodies were flown back to the United States on Monday where official ceremonies will take place.

This afternoon a memorial service will be held at RAF Lakenheath.

In the aftermath of the crash residents on the base launched initiatives to raise money for the families of those who died.

Holly Doering, 31, has raised more than $4,000 selling cupcakes.

Holly said she had felt she had to do something after hearing about the crash.

With the help of friends she sold more than 3,000 cupcakes.

Holly said: “I thought I would be making maybe 500 cupcakes, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be making so many.

“I’m amazed at the support.”

An unofficial online fund-raiser has received donations amounting to $41,483 destined for the families of those killed.

In the surrounding British community councils and officials sent letters of condolence while others paid their own tributes.

Beatrice Carter Property in Field Road, Lakenheath, has displayed a wreath to commemorate the four airmen.

Owner, Carol Jaggard, said she was ‘horrified’ to hear about the crash and wanted to put up the wreath as a sign of respect.

An investigation into the cause of the crash on January 7 is underway.

Col Robinson said: “We have a team of highly-qualified officers working day in and day out to determine the cause of the accident.

“At this time we can’t speculate.”




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