Lost for words as the tragedy unfolds

Sercurity Checks
Sercurity Checks
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WE watched with a stunned silence, days later they gathered in churches and on streets in silence and on Sunday once more the sound of silence will be mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

People will reflect on the day that changed the world and today the Bury Free Press reflects on the impact it had locally.

Americans’ bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall went on Delta level alert - the highest in peace time.

Even British reliant on the bases were told to leave. One of them was the Phoenix taxi company which was given only five minutes to vacate its office on RAF Lakenheath.

Ray Briden, now 63 years old and still one of the company’s drivers, said the situation had at first been very tricky.

Taxis sat at a nearby roundabout for a couple of months until security was relaxed and the drivers were allowed use of the office again, said Mr Briden, of Bury Road, Brandon.

American servicemen were also kept on base, which affected nearby businesses. Matt Agombar owner of Jude’s Ferry Inn told how he noticed a drop-off in trade, especially from personnel in uniform.

Back at the bases visiting vehicles were closely monitored and searched, some even physically removed if their status could not be verified and a road outside RAF Lakenheath was closed to assist security.

RAF Wattisham Airfield and RAF Honington tightened up surveillance and RAF Feltwell was on full alert.

People with family or friends in the States and on planes heading there suffered hours of anguish as they waited for news that their loved ones were safe.

Mildenhall team rector the Rev Garrie Griffiths had an agonising wait before finding out that his nephew was safe in New York. Later he opened St Mary’s Church in Mildenall for those who wanted to pray.

Beck Row primary, which then had around 70 American pupils, tried to keep the day as normal as possible for the youngsters who were said to have coped ‘extremely well’.

Messages of hope and goodwill were sent by children at Great Barton primary school to youngsters in New York, together with pictures and poems.

And as the hours went by and the true magnitude of what had happened became apparent, services and silences were organised.

Hundreds of people filled St Edmundsbury Cathedral for a special service, another was held at Mildenall air base a week after 9/11, while on Friday, September 14, at the same minute the first plane struck the World Trade Center, hundreds of people lined the streets of Bury, Stowmarket and other towns for a three minutes silence to show their respects.

And soon after came the start of the war in Afghanistan with RAF Mildenhall, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Honington and Wattisham Airfield all involved in sending aircraft and personnel into ongoing conflict which has claimed many more lives since.