SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
The 334th Fighter Squadron unveiled
a memorial dedicated to their founding squadron, the British Royal Air Force
Squadron 71, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.
Team Seymour members and invited
guests from all over the country, honored those who served the squadron during the
Battle of Britain and World War II.
“No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron was
comprised of young Americans who volunteered to fight, even though their
country was not at war,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Mead, 334th FS commander. “Those
young men were keenly aware that there was something larger than themselves,
something more at stake going on in the world, something worth fighting for.”
A few American pilots from all over
the country who felt the need to defend Europe’s freedom joined the No. 71
(Eagle) Squadron and fought in the Battle of Britain. Once America officially
joined WWII, those first American pilots (“The Few”) transitioned to America’s
Army Air Corps and created the 334th FS.
During the ceremony, Roy Heidicker,
4th Fighter Wing historian, recited the stories of the few No. 71 (Eagle)
Squadron pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain to convey the impact the
Airmen of the squadron left on the squadron’s history.
“Each and every one of them were
volunteers, fighting against evil before their own country was at war,” said
Heidicker. “They were all patriots, traveling great distances and risking their
lives to defend freedom.”
After the narratives, Mead, Felicia
Hutto, granddaughter of William Dunn, a No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron pilot and the
first American ace of WWII, and Jim and Howard Rowley, sons of Dunn, revealed
the memorial dedicated to their ancestor and his comrades of the No. 71 (Eagle)
Mead wanted to follow the squadron
tradition and honor the foundation of the squadron. With the help of other squadron
members, Mead first studied the history of Dunn. During his research, he found
numerous stories about other members of the original squadron and decided to
honor all the members of the RAF Squadron 71 while highlighting Dunn
Dunn fought during the Battle of
Britain and throughout WWII, confirming six destroyed enemy aircraft. After
Dunn’s service in the war, he continued to serve the military in many different
roles, until his retirement on Feb. 1, 1973.
Capt. Timothy Anderson, 334th FS
director of staff, said it’s important to know the origins of their squadron’s
“From this event we were able to
bridge the gaps and build the relationships between the current and past
members of the squadron,” said Anderson.
Airmen from the 334th FS are also
collaborating with past squadron members to organize future events in order to share
each other’s stories.
“We have a duty to honor the legacy
that we inherit, serve with excellence and professionalism to continue that
legacy, and preserve it for the future generations that will follow in our
footsteps to fight the next enemy,” Mead said. “Each student and instructor
that walks down this sidewalk will have the opportunity to visibly see how they
fit into the legacy of the 334th FS, which began with those brave volunteers of
No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron.”