Team Mildenhall Upholds Thanksgiving Tradition at Ely Cathedral

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tyler Whiting
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing

On the eve of Thanksgiving, U.S. Airmen stationed at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath came together for a traditional service at Ely Cathedral, Nov. 22, 2023.

This custom, which began in 1986, traces its origins back to World War II when American service members were initially invited by St. Paul's Cathedral to commemorate Thanksgiving with music, sermons, and expressions of gratitude through prayers.

The bond between the East Anglian community and the U.S. Air Force can be attributed to the significant impact American Airmen had in England during World War II. Col. Joseph D. Wall, 100th Air Refueling Wing deputy commander, who attended the event emphasized, "no country can handle challenges alone. Thanksgiving, a time for gratitude and togetherness, exemplifies the power of collaboration and shared goals. Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, in this case, fostering a sense of unity and appreciation among family and friends."

The evening commenced with over 250 service members, their families, and employees from both bases attending a concert by the Ely Cathedral Octagon Choir. A poignant rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" echoed through the cathedral, to show the partnership and unity between two nations.

Canon James Reveley greeted everyone as they entered the cathedral. A canon is a member of the chapter of priests, headed by a dean, which is responsible for the administrative work in a cathedral.

Natalie Murphy, 100th ARW, community relations advisor, emphasized the importance of the event, saying, "Team Mildenhall eagerly looked forward to the visit to Ely Cathedral this year. These interactions serve to strengthen the deep connection between American Airmen and the local community."

The service concluded with a hymn sung by both American and British attendees. The gathering then moved towards the table, as it was time for Thanksgiving dinner.  Additionally, 60 pies were donated from the community to be shared during the event.

The 37th yearly service offered an ideal opportunity for the American and British communities to come together and celebrate the American holiday collectively.