100th ARW flies US flag on D-Day for B-17 ‘Mi Amigo’ memorial

  • Published
  • By Karen Abeyasekere
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

A memorial to the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft in Sheffield, England, was vandalized in March 2021 and again in July. In an effort to help restore it, the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall sent a U.S. flag to be flown at the memorial in their honor.

Tony Foulds, now 85, was 10 when he came close to losing his life during World War II, but the skill and dedication of a B-17 Flying Fortress crew saved him and his friends.

On Feb. 22, 1944, “Mi Amigo” and its crew were returning from a mission near Aalborg, Denmark. The aircraft suffered severe damage from Luftwaffe fighters and lost engine power over Sheffield. The pilot, U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. John G. Kriegshauser, looked for somewhere to land his plane and spotted the large open space of Endcliffe Park to make an emergency landing.

As the plane dropped rapidly, the crew realized that children were playing soccer where they had planned to land. With just moments to spare, Kriegshauser and his crew decided to steer the aircraft to a wooded area past the park. All 10 crew members lost their lives.

Foulds was one of the children playing in the park that day, and he knows his life was saved thanks to the Mi Amigo crew. He has since dedicated his life to preserving a memorial built in their honor and ensuring the Mi Amigo crew are remembered.

When the memorial was vandalized, items including U.S. flags were destroyed.

With help and hard work from Tony’s friends, family and other volunteers, the memorial was restored, and the flag given by RAF Mildenhall contributes to honoring the Mi Amigo crew.

Before being sent to Tony to be placed at the memorial, the flag was flown on board a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft on the anniversary of D-Day, when the tanker refueled four F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath and two F-35 Lightning aircraft from Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Immediately after the air refueling, the KC-135 performed a low-altitude flyover of the American cemetery in Normandy, France.

“It is important that we in the Bloody Hundredth look back and reflect on those who have gone before us, and paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom. The perspective we gain by such reflection is a somber reminder that the price of freedom is not free,” said Lt. Col. John Talafuse, 100th Operations Group deputy commander and aircraft commander of the D-Day anniversary flight.

“The road we travel today is paved with the sacrifices of others such as the crew of Mi Amigo, the good life we live bought and paid for with the blood and tears of a great generation,” Talafuse said. “May we remember their sacrifice as we continue to serve the European Theater, and press forward with firm resolve that we stand ready, no matter the cost.”