352nd SOW Heritage and Unity Dinner at Prestigious Ely Cathedral
RAF Mildenhall’s 352nd Special Operations Wing Heritage and Unity Dinner at Prestigious Ely Cathedral
By Brice Harmon, 352 SOW Dining Out Committee Member
Ely, United Kingdom – The 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall orchestrated a dining event last August 2023, honoring their heritage and lineage at the esteemed Ely Cathedral. The gathering, organized by a dedicated 22-member in-house committee, brought together over 250 personnel, dignitaries, and special guests to honor the Wing’s legacy.
Among the distinguished attendees were representatives from the revered Chindit Society (Alice Wingate, granddaughter of Maj Gen Orde Wingate, the founder of the Chindits; Sid Machin, a 99-year-old Chindit veteran; and Lt Col Paul Corden from today’s 77th Brigade, named after the first Chindit Brigade), the Honorary Commanders from each Squadron, and the Special Operations Command Europe Commander, Maj Gen Edwards and his family (pictured right). Their participation underscored the event’s significance in acknowledging the shared values, experiences, and the enduring spirit of service.
The 2nd Chapter of the Air Commando Association significantly enhanced the event, both through their fundraising efforts and a generous donation. They raised over $4,000, which greatly contributed to the event’s scale and success. Furthermore, their donation of 900 sterling pounds, earmarked for the Chindits and other crucial support functions, demonstrated their deep commitment to honoring the Wing’s heritage. This support played a key role in fostering the spirit of camaraderie and mutual aid that is central to the Air Commando community.
The presence of Maj Gen Edwards stressed the worth of the occasion in his speech, highlighting the Wing’s critical role within the broader spectrum of special operations and international partnerships. He emphasized the 352 SOW’s abilities for “innovating to meet the needs of our nation is nothing new and have helped lead AFSOC’s transition by standing up the first Theater-Air Operations squadron.”
The event at the Ely Cathedral showcased the Wing’s steadfast ambassadorship with the United Kingdom and its people. Its strategic location amidst the cathedral’s historic grandeur served as a symbolic gathering to the enduring partnership and collaboration that stands beyond time. Amidst the ambiance of companionship and mutual respect, attendees lauded the event’s ability to reinforce the bonds between the Wing and its allies, highlighting the shared commitment to peace, remembrance, and cooperation.
The dining event stood as a testament to the 352 SOW’s unwavering dedication, reflecting its commitment to honoring traditions, fostering international alliances, and commemorating the indelible contributions made by all those serving within its distinguished ranks.
The evening was not just a celebration of heritage but also a platform to express gratitude. The Dining Out Committee extends a special ‘thank you’ to the Air Commandos Association for their support throughout the event. Truly honoring their mission to preserve, protect and document the heritage of the Air Commando’s past, present, and future. Events of this caliber are the backbone of our historical fortitude and guides us to maintain the culture of camaraderie and continue to elevate the bonds of the Air Commandos across the world.
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