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5 AF Airmen killed in 1943 plane crash honored in Australia
Maj. Gen. Jay Raymond, center, Fifth Air Force Vice Commander, poses for a picture, Mackay, Australia, June 3, 2012, along with various Royal Australian Air Force leaders and civilian members of the Bakers Creek Memorial committee. The group is standing in front of a monument in honor of the 40 Fifth Air Force members who died in a plane crash there in 1943 during World War II. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the monument. (Courtesy photo)
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5 AF Airmen killed in 1943 plane crash honored in Australia

Posted 6/5/2012   Updated 6/6/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Capt. Will Powell
5th Air Force Public Affairs


6/5/2012 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Maj. Gen. Jay Raymond, Fifth Air Force Vice Commander, attended a memorial ceremony June 3 in Northeastern Australia honoring 40 Airmen who died in a plane crash there 69 years ago during World War II.

The men who died were members of Fifth Air Force en route to New Guinea from Mackay in a B-17C after a short reprieve from the war. The Flying Fortress bomber had been specially modified to ferry troops back and forth between the two locations. The exact cause of the crash has never been determined, and it remains Australia's deadliest plane crash ever.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the monument in Mackay. Raymond said the monument stands as a reminder of darker days, when "freedom was being extinguished across the globe and young men and women from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, and others answered their countries' call."

The general said the 40 young men who died in the crash were a small sample of the 12 million Americans and more than 990,000 Australians who put on their nation's uniform and took on the responsibility that entails.

"These Airmen answered the call and they made the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "We'll never know what they might have become. They did not live to enjoy the fruits of victory, but they, and millions like them, paved the way for a more peaceful world."

He said their efforts during the war made it possible for former enemies to become friends, partners, and allies. Today Japan, Australia and the United States enjoy one of the strongest relationships in the world, and that partnership continues to strengthen as a result of trilateral exercises and disaster response operations.

"Who would have thought that possible in 1943?" he said. "That's the legacy of the 40 names on the monument and all those who served during the war."



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