A World War Two bomber veteran has been reunited with the dog-tags he lost more than 70 years ago at RAF Knettishall.
Raymond Odom, 93, was presented with his tags, framed with pictures of himself as a young USAF 8th Air Force airman, his fellow B-17 Flying Fortress crew members and his former base, by the current 8th commander Major General Thomas Bussiere.
It marked the end of a trans-Atlantic effort to reunite the old airman with part of his past – the identification tags he wore in combat over Germany.
The single tag was found in May last year by Andy Fuller, a groundsman at RAF Honington, who had permission to go metal detecting on the ex-USAF base at Knettishall.
Because the tag also had Raymond’s service number, Andy was able to find out he joined what was then the United States Army Air Force in 1943 and was with the 388th Bomb Group at Knettishall.
Andy then discovered the veteran was still alive and living in Louisiana, so he contacted Raymond’s daughter, Debbie Ball, through social media.
She said: “When I first found out [one of] his tags had been found, I was excited because that was a part of my dad I knew very little about. I didn’t even know his tags were lost.
“Dad never really talked about his experience in the war until recently, so I thought this would be a nice time to get the tags back to him.”
Andy then got in touch with the 100th Air Refuelling Wing at RAF Mildenhall and they shipped the tag to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, where the 8th Air Force is now based near the assisted living home where Raymond and his wife Maryann live,
Maj Gen Bussiere said: “I can’t tell you how proud we are that we are here today to present Raymond’s dog tags. I can’t tell you how much our young Airmen today appreciate what you did for our nation.”
Mrs Ball said her family were overwhelmed by support from the local community who attended the presentation at Farmerville, Louisiana.
Raymond said: “It’s a real honour to have you people here to recognize me. I feel very humbled and honoured that you’re here to do this.”
RAF Knettishall was between the villages of Knettishall and Coney Weston and the 388th BG started flying from there in July 1943. They stayed until 1945.