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Eagle Scout Project Honors USAF 48th FW Heritage
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte
March 14, 2021

The Liberty Wing has a rich history dating back to before World War II. Decades of service members have walked the grounds and played their role in shaping the 48th Fighter Wing as it stands today.

Cole Heard, son of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Heard, 48th Fighter Wing Chief of Plans and Programs, had the vision to honor that history by building a heritage arch.

Construction on the arch began at RAF Lakenheath on February 27, 2021 and it was assembled at its final location standing between the Strike Eagle Complex and the flightline on March 6, 2021.

Scout Troop 215, Lakenheath High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps and over 50 volunteers worked to construct a heritage arch on the path to the flightline at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2021. The arch was built as an Eagle Scout project, an opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership abilities while completing a project for the benefit of their community. (Courtesy Photo)
Scout Troop 215, Lakenheath High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps and over 50 volunteers worked to construct a heritage arch on the path to the flightline at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2021. The arch was built as an Eagle Scout project, an opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership abilities while completing a project for the benefit of their community. (Courtesy Photo)

After construction was complete, Col. Jason Camiletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander, and Cole officially presented the arch to the wing through a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The arch was built as Cole’s Eagle Scout project, an opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership abilities while completing a project for the benefit of their community. It was the combined effort of Troop 215, the Lakenheath High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and over 50 additional volunteers.

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander, and Cole Heard, son of Lt. Colonel Jason Heard, 48th Fighter Wing Chief of Plans and Programs, cut the ribbon to signify the official opening of the heritage arch outside the Strike Eagle Complex at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2021. The arch was built as an Eagle Scout project, an opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership abilities while completing a project for the benefit of their community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)
U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing commander, and Cole Heard, son of Lt. Colonel Jason Heard, 48th Fighter Wing Chief of Plans and Programs, cut the ribbon to signify the official opening of the heritage arch outside the Strike Eagle Complex at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 6, 2021. The arch was built as an Eagle Scout project, an opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership abilities while completing a project for the benefit of their community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)

The arch is constructed from solid oak beams and weighs over 2,500 pounds. The support beams are adorned with museum panels showcasing the Liberty Wing history. They are also painted with the classic “invasion stripes” like the ones painted on the 48th FW aircraft that flew in WWII during D-Day on June 6, 1944.

The cross beam at the top of the arch reminds Airmen and Aircrew that the “Fight’s On” as they walk toward the flightline, and to “Stand Tall” as they return.

“It serves as a call to action for Airmen to be ready for any fight, anywhere, anytime,” said Cole. “The fight for readiness and eventual victory begins through this arch.”

Left - Aircrew assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron step through the NEW heritage arch on their way to their aircraft at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2021. Right - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justin Sanchez, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, walks under the heritage arch toward the flightline at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2021. Liberty Wing aircrew and Airmen will walk under this arch on their way to carry out the 48th Fighter Wing mission for years to come. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)
Left - Aircrew assigned to the 494th Fighter Squadron step through the NEW heritage arch on their way to their aircraft at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2021. Right - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justin Sanchez, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, walks under the heritage arch toward the flightline at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2021. Liberty Wing aircrew and Airmen will walk under this arch on their way to carry out the 48th Fighter Wing mission for years to come. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte)

The cross beam will also contain a time capsule filled with photos and mementos from members of the Liberty Wing community.

Born on RAF Lakenheath and stationed here for four of his dad’s assignments as a fighter pilot, Cole said he came up with the idea because he wanted to give something back to the base he loves.

“It will be a lasting tribute dedicated to all Liberty Airmen past, present, and future,” said Cole. “I hope it will inspire them as they go to carry out the 48th FW mission every day.”

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