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Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Friday, 10 September 2010 16:12 UK
USAF firefighters remember 9/11 at RAF Mildenhall
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

9/11 memorial, RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, UK
The memorial features a low hedge representing The Pentagon

Firefighters serving at one of Suffolk's US military bases have been commemorating the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

A service took place at the memorial at RAF Mildenhall where two hedges have been cut to resemble the twin towers.

There are 86 military and civilian fire officers at the United States Air Force (USAF) base.

"We will continue to remind everybody to stay alert," said Master Sergeant Michael Liston, who is assistant fire chief at RAF Mildenhall.

"For about 400 emergency responders to die that day brings it all home to us and it all happened within a two hour span.

"Not just New York or the United States, but the whole world changed that day and we want to keep that in our memories."

Around 50 personnel attended the ceremony which began at 9.11am the day before the anniversary on Friday, 10 September, 2010.

A short speech was followed by the placing of a firefighter's helmet and a military cap in front of the memorial.

Lieutenant General Ralph Jodice, USAF
Lieutenant General Ralph Jodice was visiting from Izmir base in Turkey

General from Turkey

Also attending the ceremony was Lieutenant General Ralph Jodice, who is the commander of the allied air command at Izmir airbase in Turkey, which is part of NATO.

He hails from New Jersey, just across the bay from New York, although he wasn't there when the September 11th attacks took place.

"My father was a cop for 39 years in New Jersey so today's ceremony with our police officers and our firefighters touched me very deeply, because I know the sacrifices they make in doing their day-to-day job.

"As a senior leader with the USAF and within NATO, we continue to support the position that NATO has maintained in Afghanistan to go and work it as hard as we can to see the job through."

Lieutenant Colonel Hodges Viccellio, RAF Mildenhall
Lieutenant Colonel Hodges Viccellio is a wing chaplain at RAF Mildenhall

Wing chaplain

On the day of the memorial ceremony, the news headlines were dominated by the furore about the Florida preacher who planned to have a Koran-burning event to commemorate 9/11.

Lieutenant Colonel Hodges Viccellio, who's wing chaplain at RAF Mildenhall, was at the base's ceremony.

He has had tours of duty in Iraq and worked with Muslim clergy.

"We had the opportunity of working with imams in the area that were sympathetic towards US military actions and we develop relationships where we can.

"As a chaplain, I'm all about peacemaking. Any way that we can contribute to the peacemaking effort around the world - that's what we're about.

"We do not have any Islamic services on base, so we refer them over to our contacts in Cambridge.

"In America, religious freedom is a First Amendment right, so we take that very seriously."

The 9/11 ceremony precedes Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Remembrance Week at RAF Mildenhall.

Events include a speech by a World War II POW, a motorcycle ride from RAF Mildenhall to the neighbouring USAF base of RAF Lakenheath, a 5km run and a 24-hour vigil on 16 September when the names of those on the Mildenhall POW/MIA Memorial are read out.




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