THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath conducted a second annual Ruck to Remember on January 7, 2021. The event commemorated the crew of Jolly-22, a 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk which crashed on the Norfolk coast during an exercise in 2014. The ruck also raised funds for the families of crew members.
Capt. Sean Ruane, Capt. Christopher Stover, Tech. Sgt. Dale Mathews and Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce lost their lives when the incident took place on January 7, 2014.
Recalling the day, Barry Wall, Occupational Safety and former British Army infantryman, said “I was in the safety office when the crash happened. I saw the impact and how the wing came together with one mission to honor those fallen Airmen. They did it with absolute passion and dignity. It’s one of the reasons why I’m proud to be a Liberty Airman.”
Wall and fellow Airman, Tech Sgt. Joshua Rogers, 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 16 production supervisor, rucked for 22 miles carrying 56lbs, in memory of the 56th Rescue Squadron crew.
The duo took part in a commemorative ruck a year ago, and have continued the tradition in spite of the challenges faced by 2021.
Sgt Rogers said that “It’s surreal. Last year it was just us three, but this year the support from Aviano Air Base, Italy, the UK, and the US is amazing.”
The 56th Rescue Squadron relocated to Aviano Air Base, Italy, in May 2018, and the Squadron also took part in its own ruck to mirror the efforts of Wall and Rogers in the UK.
“They were Liberty Airmen”, explained Wall, “They were from our wing and they deserve to be remembered. We do this so their memory lives on and their legacy is secured.”
Capt. James Gray, a Rescue Pilot with the 56th RSQ, commented that “When the squadron moved from England to Italy in 2018, we needed to be sure that all of our traditions and memories carried over with us. Jolly 22 is a big part of that, so this effort is mainly to carry on the memory of those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
For more images and information from the Ruck, to the RAF Lakenheath website: www.lakenheath.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2466065/rucking-for-remembrance