Service members from across the United Kingdom will make their way to the Madingley American Cemetery Memorial Service in Cambridge, England, May 28 to remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who fell during World War II in defense of the United Kingdom.
U.S. Air Force airmen will participate in the event with speeches, displays from the Royal Air Force Mildenhall Honor Guard and a flyover.
There are 3,812 American heroes laid to rest at Madingley American Cemetery and another 5,127 names inscribed on the Wall of Missing. Nearly 10,000 service members are buried or honored there, and each has their own unique tale.
The following stories take a look at five airmen laid to rest here:
2nd Lt. Gustav D. Kjosness, 572nd Bomb Squadron, U.S. Army Air Forces
At Plot F, Row 4, Grave 6, visitors will find the headstone of 2nd Lt. Gustav D. Kjosness, a B-26 Marauder bombardier, who died while paving the success for the Normandy, France, landings.
Kjosness participated in the June 6, 1944, bombing missions against enemy ground targets. Two days later, he was killed during his 32nd combat mission and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. This is the second highest award in the U.S. Army, equal to the Air Force Cross.
TSgt. Anthony Fidares, 303rd Bomb Group, U.S. Army Air Forces; and Sgt. Nicholas Fidares, 44th Bomb Group, U.S. Army Air Forces
At the Wall of Missing, visitors will find the name TSgt. Anthony Fidares. His brother, Sgt. Nicholas Fidares, is buried in Plot D, Row 6, Grave 23.
According to information provided by Cambridge American Cemetery’s Arthur Brookes, while Anthony Fidares was attempting to bomb an airfield at Esbjaerg, Denmark, on Aug. 27, 1944, his B-17 Flying Fortress received a direct hit to the fuselage, breaking the plane in half. Anthony Fidares and the other crew members were never recovered.
His brother, also an aviator, was on a mission to bomb a rail junction at Kaiserslautern, Germany, on Dec. 28, 1944. Just prior to reaching the enemy coast, the B-24 Liberator he was traveling in encountered engine trouble. On the return to England, the plane lost another engine, crashing and detonating a bomb on board. Nicholas Fidares and the rest of the crew were killed.
SSgt. Merl W. Skinner, 301st Squadron, U.S. Army Air Forces
SSgt. Merl W. Skinner, a C-47 Skytrain crewchief, can be found buried at Plot F, Row 4, Grave 6.
Skinner, seven crewmates and 13 medical patients crashed into cliffs while on an air evacuation to Prestwick, Scotland. Everyone on board, except Skinner, was killed instantly. He was rescued but passed away before he could receive medical treatment.
1st Lt. Sidney Dunagan, 50th Squadron, U.S. Army Air Forces
In Plot E, Row 1, Grave 34, visitors will find the grave of 1st Lt. Sidney Dunagan, a pilot who perished June 6, 1944, while leading his element in the initial invasion of France.
After locating his drop zone, many of the paratroopers Dunagan was ferrying jumped into France. After clearing the drop zone, Dunagan’s crew chief notified him that not all of the paratroopers had jumped. Disregarding his own safety, Dunagan turned his plane around and returned toward violent enemy ground fire as a single ship to deliver the remaining Soldiers. Defenseless in an unarmored plane, Dunagan was directly hit by enemy ground fire, killing him instantly. Dunagan was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.