Stansted Airport has marked the 70th anniversary of its runway yesterday (26 July), in a ceremony attended by a US world war two veteran to mark the airport’s history as an army base.
The Essex hub, which was known as George Washington Field during the war, marked the occasion by inviting 88-year old Major Edward W. Horn to be guest of honour. Horn was one of many US personnel to be based in Stansted at the time, with the runway itself completed by US army engineers in 1943.
He appeared with Colonel Travis Willis, Air Attaché from the US Embassy, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Kuehne, the Commander of the 351st Air Refuelling Squadron, and Stansted Airport’s Managing Director Andrew Harrison.
Horn, who spent time as a German prisoner of war after being shot down over France while flying flying his 23rd mission from Stansted, planted a commemorative tree and said:
“70 years ago, I was flying my B-26 Marauder off this runway, and now I stand here today in remembrance of my fellow 344th Bomb Group airmen, and in honour of those who did not return from their missions.”
Stansted managing director Andrew Harrison said:
“I am delighted to welcome so many distinguished guests here today to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Stansted Airport’s runway and its origins as a wartime airfield. Not only is this a tribute to the airport’s illustrious past but it just shows what an integral role Stansted continues to play in our community and the wider region.
“To be able to welcome Major Edward Horn back to the airport for the first time in years is a particular poignant and humbling moment for me. We should be proud that our airport played a pivotal role in the allied victory, and a lot of this success is down to people like Major Horn and his fellow airman – many who tragically didn’t return to our shores. We owe them all an immense debt of gratitude for kindly giving us what is still one of the UK’s longest runways and the heartbeat of today’s world class airport.