Mildenhall Airmen help preserve RAF museum

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tracy Thorpe, 373rd Training Squadron KC-135 avionics instructor, cleans a monument on display July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England.  Volunteers from the Air Force Sergeants' Association visited the museum to perform minor landscaping. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tracy Thorpe, 373rd Training Squadron KC-135 avionics instructor, cleans a monument on display July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. Volunteers from the Air Force Sergeants' Association visited the museum to perform minor landscaping. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

Airmen from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants' Association remove weeds from a side walk July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. During World War II RAF Rougham was home to the U.S. Army Air Force 47th, 322nd, and 94th Bombardment Groups. In 1993 a group of locals banded together to restore and preserve the base after several years of being closed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

Airmen from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants' Association remove weeds from a side walk July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. During World War II RAF Rougham was home to the U.S. Army Air Force 47th, 322nd, and 94th Bombardment Groups. In 1993 a group of locals banded together to restore and preserve the base after several years of being closed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David West, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron commander support staff NCO, uses a shovel to remove weeds from a side walk July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. West and other members from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants Association volunteered to clean up the museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David West, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron commander support staff NCO, uses a shovel to remove weeds from a side walk July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. West and other members from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants Association volunteered to clean up the museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Javier Mejia, left, 100th Air Refueling Wing readiness inspector, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Victor Reyes, right, 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Group quality assurance chief inspector, trouble shoot a World War II era flight simulator whiles Reyes' son sits inside July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. The flight simulator was inoperable for several years due to an electrical problem. The Airmen were able to use their background in civil engineering and maintenance to fix the pilot trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Javier Mejia, left, 100th Air Refueling Wing readiness inspector, and U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Victor Reyes, right, 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Group quality assurance chief inspector, trouble shoot a World War II era flight simulator whiles Reyes' son sits inside July 17, 2016, at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. The flight simulator was inoperable for several years due to an electrical problem. The Airmen were able to use their background in civil engineering and maintenance to fix the pilot trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force TSgt. Starr Day, 100th Communication Squadron Knowledge Management Center NCO in-charge, dumps weeds into a wheel barrow at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. Day and other members from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants' Association volunteered to clean up the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

U.S. Air Force TSgt. Starr Day, 100th Communication Squadron Knowledge Management Center NCO in-charge, dumps weeds into a wheel barrow at the RAF Rougham Tower Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, England. Day and other members from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants' Association volunteered to clean up the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

RAF MILDENHALL, England-- -- RAF MILDENHALL, England-- Back when a gallon of gas cost 15 cents and a person could purchase a new car for a little over $1,000 - U.S. Army Air Corp Airmen roamed the base at RAF Rougham, England. Fast forward 71 years, and a group of U.S. Air Force Airmen returned with a new mission.

On July 17, 2016, Airmen from Team Mildenhall’s Air Force Sergeants’ Association visited the now RAF Rougham Tower Museum to help maintain the facility’s estates.

“We researched and found several museums around Suffolk, so we decided to reach out to the Rougham Tower Museum,” said Tech. Sgt. Javier Mejia, 100th Air Refueling Wing readiness inspector. “We decided to use this former base because of the history that it contains and how it relates to our history as being the Bloody Hundredth.”

The small group of volunteers helped out by performing minor landscaping.

“They did an awful lot of manual work here today,” said Michael Brundle, RAF Rougham Tower Museum guide. “They cleared weeds out of the old tarmac and edged up the grass along the sidewalks. It’s great to see Airmen back on the grounds.”

At the museum, visitors can walk through the World War II era tower and see everything from uniforms worn in that time period to equipment that was aboard the aircraft stationed there. Guests can even take a close look at a simulator that pilots used for training.

“During tours, I used to tell visitors that the simulator doesn’t work. I’d tell them ‘this is what a linked trainer looks like,” recounted Brundle. “We didn’t even ask them to fix the flight simulator and before I knew it they got it fixed.”

Once Mejia had heard about the downed trainer, he and Tech. Sgt. Victor Reyes, 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Group quality assurance chief inspector, sprang into action and put their combined knowledge, skills and experience in maintenance and civil engineering to work.

“The simulator hadn’t worked for years,” Mejia said. “We found that it was an electronic problem so we fixed it.”

Through volunteering, Airmen got a glimpse of what military life was like there in the early 1940s.

“The sacrifices made by all of the Airmen in WWII are unimaginable,” said Tech. Sgt. David West, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron commander support staff NCO. “It’s really humbling to be able to come out here and help.”