Tag Archive for: RAF

#GivingTuesday Please consider a financial gift to the Billy Fiske Foundation today and make this important monument a reality. Make a contribution at https://billyfiskefoundation.org/get-involved.

Eighty years ago, a young Royal Air Force fighter pilot called Billy Fiske was buried at Boxgrove Priory church in Sussex, one of the prettiest corners of southern England. He’d died of wounds sustained flying a Hawker Hurricane in the Battle of Britain. Nothing especially unusual about that — sadly, some 1,500 RAF aircrew perished in that epic struggle against the Luftwaffe. But if you had been in that medieval church that day, you would have noticed something rather unusual about this funeral. For Fiske’s coffin was draped with two flags — the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.

On the first day of the Gulf War, the breath caught in my throat as I unplugged from the large Victor air-to-air refueling tanker, in my Tornado F3. Many details of that mission have faded, while others are as clear in my mind now as they were then.

As we come upon the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies published a paper by Kevin Billings taking a look back and a look forward at the RAF 80 Years on from the Battle of Britain.

I was delighted when Kevin Billings invited me to write a short piece about how Billy Fiske’s sacrifice in 1940 exemplifies the UK/US Special Relationship and, in particular, the unique relationship between the USAF and RAF.

On 12 July 2017, I took command of the 501st Combat Support Wing at RAF Alconbury then immediately drove to RAF Fairford so I could oversee the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT).  While attending the RIAT Gala Dinner, extremely jetlagged but happily enjoying cold beverages, I saw this RAF Group Captain who looked a lot like one of our old USAF Assistant Secretaries for Installations, Environment and Logistics – Kevin Billings.