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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 05:22 GMT 06:22 UK
Sombre mood at Suffolk's 'little America'
RAF Lakenheath
The base will fly a flag at half-mast on Wednesday
In one corner of Suffolk, the first anniversary of the attacks on America on 11 September had an added poignancy.

RAF Lakenheath is home to some 5,000 US servicemen and women plus their 3,500 family members - making it the largest US airbase in Europe.

As its residents observed a minute's silence at 1346 BST on Wednesday they remembered the moment when the news of the atrocities spread around the base.

One serviceman, Flight Lieutenant Donald Jack, described the mood among his colleagues at the time as being one of "total shock and disbelief that something like that could happen on our soil and to our people".


I have a six-year-old son and I immediately became very protective towards him

Flight Lieutenant Donald Jack

He was among those at the special ceremony at the base chapel led by Chaplain Colonel David Broyles.

Servicemen and women watched a video tribute produced by the base before laying wreaths.

They also brought out the flag they flew after the attacks last year and laid it ceremoniously on the altar.

A year on, Lieutenant Jack, 34, says everyday life on the base - where the currency is dollars and the cars have US registration plates - has scarcely changed.

But he believes the attacks were a psychological jolt to his fellow Americans in the same way that Pearl Harbour was to an earlier generation.

'Came together'

"We had a 'high on a mountain feeling', and now we're feeling a little more vulnerable.

"I have a six-year-old son and I immediately became very protective towards him."

RAF Lakenheath
Lakenheath is the largest US airbase in Europe

But for all the horror of the attacks Lieutenant Jack believes there were positive elements.

"The US came together as a whole.

"At that moment we were all with one goal in mind."

He also believes the attacks have brought the UK and the US closer together.

He recalls how people in Suffolk would hear he was American and offer their condolences about the attacks.

"There was definitely a feeling of, 'we're with you whenever something bad happens'.

"When they played our national anthem at Buckingham Palace, it was unbelievable."


Click here to go to BBC Suffolk


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13 Sep 01 | UK
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