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334th FS honors history

Jim Rowley (far left), Felicia Hutto (center left), and Howard Rowley (center right), family members of William Dunn, British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 member and first American ace of World War II, along with Lt. Col. Nathan Mead (right), 334th Fighter Squadron commander, unveil a memorial dedicated to the British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 members, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The 334th FS traces its roots to the RAF Squadron 71 during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

Jim Rowley (far left), Felicia Hutto (center left), and Howard Rowley (center right), family members of William Dunn, British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 member and first American ace of World War II, along with Lt. Col. Nathan Mead (right), 334th Fighter Squadron commander, unveil a memorial dedicated to the British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 members, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The 334th FS traces its roots to the RAF Squadron 71 during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

F-15E Strike Eagles perform a missing-man formation flyover during the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 members, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Team Seymour members and invited guests from all over the country attended the ceremony to honor the No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

F-15E Strike Eagles perform a missing-man formation flyover during the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 members, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Team Seymour members and invited guests from all over the country attended the ceremony to honor the No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

Lt. Col. Nathan Mead, 334th Fighter Squadron commander, presents a plaque to Felicia Hutto, granddaughter of William Dunn, British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 member and first American ace of World War II, during the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the RAF members, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Family members of the No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron service members came from all over the country to attend the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

Lt. Col. Nathan Mead, 334th Fighter Squadron commander, presents a plaque to Felicia Hutto, granddaughter of William Dunn, British Royal Air Force Squadron 71 member and first American ace of World War II, during the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the RAF members, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Family members of the No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron service members came from all over the country to attend the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Williamson)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

The 334th Fighter Squadron unveiled a memorial dedicated to their founding squadron, the British Royal Air Force Squadron 71, July 8, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Team Seymour members and invited guests from all over the country, honored those who served the squadron during the Battle of Britain and World War II.

“No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron was comprised of young Americans who volunteered to fight, even though their country was not at war,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Mead, 334th FS commander. “Those young men were keenly aware that there was something larger than themselves, something more at stake going on in the world, something worth fighting for.”

A few American pilots from all over the country who felt the need to defend Europe’s freedom joined the No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron and fought in the Battle of Britain. Once America officially joined WWII, those first American pilots (“The Few”) transitioned to America’s Army Air Corps and created the 334th FS.

During the ceremony, Roy Heidicker, 4th Fighter Wing historian, recited the stories of the few No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain to convey the impact the Airmen of the squadron left on the squadron’s history.

“Each and every one of them were volunteers, fighting against evil before their own country was at war,” said Heidicker. “They were all patriots, traveling great distances and risking their lives to defend freedom.”

After the narratives, Mead, Felicia Hutto, granddaughter of William Dunn, a No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron pilot and the first American ace of WWII, and Jim and Howard Rowley, sons of Dunn, revealed the memorial dedicated to their ancestor and his comrades of the No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron.

Mead wanted to follow the squadron tradition and honor the foundation of the squadron. With the help of other squadron members, Mead first studied the history of Dunn. During his research, he found numerous stories about other members of the original squadron and decided to honor all the members of the RAF Squadron 71 while highlighting Dunn specifically.

Dunn fought during the Battle of Britain and throughout WWII, confirming six destroyed enemy aircraft. After Dunn’s service in the war, he continued to serve the military in many different roles, until his retirement on Feb. 1, 1973.

Capt. Timothy Anderson, 334th FS director of staff, said it’s important to know the origins of their squadron’s history.

“From this event we were able to bridge the gaps and build the relationships between the current and past members of the squadron,” said Anderson.

Airmen from the 334th FS are also collaborating with past squadron members to organize future events in order to share each other’s stories.

“We have a duty to honor the legacy that we inherit, serve with excellence and professionalism to continue that legacy, and preserve it for the future generations that will follow in our footsteps to fight the next enemy,” Mead said. “Each student and instructor that walks down this sidewalk will have the opportunity to visibly see how they fit into the legacy of the 334th FS, which began with those brave volunteers of No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron.”