How the memory of America’s D-Day heroes is being kept alive

Written by Robert Wood Johnson, United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Earlier this year, thanks to Sheffield resident Tony Foulds, we heard the inspiring story of the B-17 “Mi Amigo” crew.

On February 22, 1944, the American Airmen had come under heavy Nazi fire and were struggling to return to base. Losing altitude over Sheffield, the pilot circled around one of the city parks hoping to land safely, but when he saw a group of children playing in an open field at the park, he aborted landing and instead crashed into a wooded area. The children were spared, but none of the 10 men aboard the “Mi Amigo” survived.

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The Mi Amigo flypast in Sheffield. Pictures courtesy of the US Embassy London

Tony was one of those children playing in the field that day and he never forgot the sacrifice the “Mi Amigo” crew made for him and his friends.

“I can’t see anyone else ever doing what these lads did – giving their own lives for a foreigner,” remarked Tony. For the last 75 years, he has tended the memorial to the Mi Amigo crew and recounted their story as a way of remembering their selfless sacrifice.

For me, Tony’s story showed just how deep a bond was forged between America and Britain during the dark days of war. Almost every town and village in the United Kingdom has a story to tell about the millions of young Americans who were based here as our countries prepared for D-Day. We could not have asked any more of America’s military heroes.

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It is an enormous privilege to hear all the stories of the incredible sacrifices and special friendships they made here in Britain as our countries fought together, shoulder-to-shoulder.

So, to mark this year’s special 75th anniversary of D-Day, I am asking people across the UK to get in touch with the U.S. Embassy – to please share their stories of the troops who were part of this great American “friendly invasion” of the UK in the days leading up to the Normandy assault.

I want to keep their memories alive and inspire a new generation with the stories of our D-Day heroes. Their sense of duty and courage must never be forgotten.