Me­mo­rial ser­vice for 18 who died

US Air Force rep­re­sen­ta­tives pay re­spects to for­mer col­leagues 40 years af­ter plane crash in Thor­ney

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Event - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

Amemo­rial ser­vice was held on Tues­day to mark 40 years since a US mil­i­tary air­craft crashed into a field in Thor­ney, killing all 18 peo­ple on board.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the US Air Force and its Hon­our Guard (cer­e­mo­nial guards­men) vis­ited Thor­ney Dyke to pay trib­ute to the 17 men and one woman who per­ished on Au­gust 28, 1976.

Farmer Peter Stuffins of Lodge Farm, Crow­land Road, Thor­ney, re­mem­bers see­ing the wreck­age af­ter spot­ting a he­li­copter from the back of his house and fol­low­ing it to the site of the crash.

“I could see it was do­ing re­con­nai­sance and in the next field, in the cor­ner, I got the great­est shock of my life when I saw the tail,” said Peter, who was 34 at the time.

“I looked up and could see fire en­gines. I went home and I was trau­ma­tised re­ally.

“And on the same day they had an­other air­craft crash in Green­land from the same base.”

The C-141 Star­lifter which crashed had been fly­ing from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey and was en route to RAF Milden­hall in Suf­folk when it got caught in a storm.

Peter said: “It crashed only a cou­ple of miles from vil­lages but luck­ily no one else was hurt. The wing and tail snapped off and the plane fell in three dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, a mile apart in a tri­an­gle.

“It was like a man­gled scrap­yard. There was noth­ing left which was recog­nis­able.”

Tues­day’s ser­vice was marked by a pe­riod of si­lence and prayers, while three per­son­nel of the orig­i­nal Thor­ney fire crew which was first on the scene 40 years ago also at­tended.

The ser­vice was held where a big me­mo­rial stone was erected 20 years ago, with the names of all the peo­ple who per­ished in the crash en­graved on it.

Peter, who can re­mem­ber sev­eral air­craft crashes in the Peter­bor­ough area over the years, added: “The Amer­i­cans are very ap­pre­cia­tive of what we are do­ing.”

John Culpin, chair­man of the Thor­ney branch of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion

RAF Milden­hall hon­our guard from the 100th Air Re­fu­el­ing Wing

Peter Stuffins

The me­mo­rial to the peo­ple who died in the crash

The field where the plane crashed

Peter­bor­ough Evening Tele­graph clip­pings from the crash

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