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Ambassador Johnson’s Farewell Speech

US Ambassador to the UK, Robert Wood Johnson, sends a message of farewell after a busy four years

Published on January 19, 2021

US Ambassador Johnson and Tony Foulds The US Ambassador, Woody Johnson, accompanies Tony Foulds as they pay tribute to victims of the Mi Amigo B-17 Bomber crash in Sheffield, 1944, who are buried at Cambridge American Cemetery. Photo courtesy US Embassy in London

With a new administration entering the White House on January 20, the US Ambassador to the UK, Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson has issued a farewell message as he prepares to leave his role, describing it as the “honor of a lifetime”.

Ambassador Johnson began his speech by saying:

“After four incredible years, the time has come for me to say goodbye to the people of Britain. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as America’s Ambassador here. I’ll never forget President Trump calling me into the Oval Office, and he pointed at the bust of Sir Winston Churchill and told me, ‘Woody, this is the Special Relationship.’ And he gave me the mission to enhance this relationship and make it stronger than ever before, because history has always shown that, if the US and the UK stand strong and united, there is nothing we can’t accomplish together.”

As is tradition, Mr Johnson made his first speech as Ambassador to the Pilgrims of Great Britain, an organization which promotes good-will between the US and the UK.

Mr Johnson has been notable as a regular attendant of events across the UK which celebrate the special relationship. As well as participating in Mayflower 400 activities, in his role as Ambassador, Mr Johnson was involved in keystone ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The outgoing Ambassador describes one event though, as particularly special to him. In his speech, Mr Johnson says:

“I also had the honor of meeting Sheffield resident Tony Foulds. He was a child during the war, and he’d been playing in the park when an American B-17, the Mi Amigo, had to make a crash landing. When the pilot saw the children playing in the park, he aimed the plane toward the edge of the park to save the childrens’ lives. None of the 10 crew members survived, but Tony never forgot the sacrifice those men had made to keep him alive. Decade after decade, he quietly tended a memorial to them. And it was one of the highlights of my time here to help make Tony’s lifelong dream come true, as we got the U.S. and UK Air Forces to fly over the city in memory of those men.”

Ending his message, Mr Johnson echoed the words of Winston Churchill, in the speech in which the former British Prime Minister coined the phrase “Special Relationship”, remarking that “Opportunity is here now, clear and shining for both our countries.”

To watch the speech and read the full text of Ambassador Johnson’s speech, go to uk.usembassy.gov/ambassador-johnsons-farewell-statement-as-delivered-january-15-2021

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