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NEWS | June 2, 2023

305th AMW Can Do Airmen attend Chelveston heritage trip

By Airman 1st Class Simonne Barker Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

The 305th Air Mobility Wing traveled to Chelveston, England for the second consecutive year May 25-29.

Chelveston is home to the 305th Bombardment Group, the forebearer of the wing. The bombardment group dropped 22,363 tons of bombs on enemy territory while conducting over 480 missions in 9,321 sorties during World War II. Over 769 Airmen were killed in action, and an unknown number of Airmen were injured or taken prisoner. Their success and sacrifices were crucial to the nation’s triumph against Nazi Germany.

This heritage trip connected the past and present Airmen by focusing on the legacy of the 305th BG. Ian White, the 305th BG historian, and Peter Hill, an assistant to the 305th BG historian, shared stories of some of the heroic Airmen and led visits to the Royal Air Force Museum, the Duxford Imperial War Museum, and the cemeteries where the Airmen were buried.

“When we dig into the stories of the Can Do Airmen from the past we’re able to connect them with the Airmen of the present,” stated Stu Lockhart, 305th AMW historian. “There is so much to be gained from walking the ground where Can Do Airmen past have walked.”

The trip also included a chapel service and two wreath-laying ceremonies, where one of the youngest members invited on the trip was given the opportunity to lay a wreath on behalf of the 305th BG during the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Cambridge American Cemetery along with U.S. Air Force Col. Elizabeth Hanson, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander.

“Being able to lay one of our wreaths means more than what I can put into words because most of the Airmen who passed away were my age,” stated U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jesse Harrelson, 6th Airlift Squadron Loadmaster. “I will return to the wing and share the stories of the 305th BG Airmen who were not able to return to their families because their stories must be retold.”  

After this trip, the Can Do Airmen return with a newfound sense of pride, heritage and perspective of the phrase “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” The sacrifices of the 305th BG Airmen paved the way for the Can Do Airmen to fight today.

“It’s incredible for each of our Airmen to take a piece of history back with them to the wing,” said Lockhart. “When the Airmen ask questions and make connections to know more that’s how I know this trip was successful in supporting our mission.”

As the Air Force navigates the ever growing threats of adversaries and prepares for the future fight, being able to reflect on the sacrifices of forgoers can provide perspective and motivation to overcome challenges that may lie ahead.

“Connecting with our heritage first-hand is so important.  We heard our predecessor’s stories of courage, determination, and sacrifice as we paid them respect and honored them," said Hanson. "When we hold these Can Do! Airmen stories in our hearts, we gain strength and inspiration that we can translate to future environments and the things that may be asked of us.”