Stansted: Airport honours 70th birthday with memorial
- Credit: Archant
An American Second World War hero was the special guest of honour at Stansted Airport celebrated the 70th anniversary of its runway and historic roots as a wartime airfield.
Retired 344th Bomb Group flying ace Major Edward Horn, 88, flew in from America to be part of the ceremony to recognise the completion of the main wartime runway by US Army engineers in 1943 and the vital role George Washington Field, as Stansted was formerly known, as an operational base.
The occasion was marked with a Thunderbolt flypast, the unveiling of a memorial and the planting of a commemorative tree by Colonel Travis Willis, Air Attache from the US Embassy and Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Kuehne, the Commander of the 351st Air Refuelling Squadron and Maj Horn.
Maj Horn, who became a German prisoner of war after he was shot down over France on his 23rd mission from Stansted in 1944, said: “70 years ago, I was flying my B-26 Marauder off this runway, and now I stand here today in remembrance of my fellow 344th Bomb Group airmen, and in honour of those who did not return from their missions.”
Other guests included the High Sheriff of Essex Mrs Julia Abel Smith and representatives from Air Cadets, Royal British Legion, Imperial War Museum Duxford and the airport.
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Andrew Harrison, Stansted Airport’s managing director, described it as a “poignant and humbling moment”.
He added: “We should be proud that our airport played a pivotal role in the Allied victory, and a lot of this success is down to people like Major Horn and his fellow airman – many who tragically didn’t return to our shores. We owe them all an immense debt of gratitude for kindly giving us what is still one of the UK’s longest runways and the heartbeat of today’s world-class airport.”
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Stansted became the ninth largest US Air Force base in East Anglia and was home to the 344th Bomb Group known as the “Silver Streaks” before becoming the Stansted Airport it is today.