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Is This English Village The Real 51st American State?

Posted by Julian Perreira on
Is This English Village The Real 51st American State?
RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath located in Suffolk are home to the United States Air Force (USAF) and other American special forces units.

The surrounding market town of Mildenhall and the village of Beck Row are in close proximity to both USAF bases - home to around 12 thousand American military and many of their dependants since the 1950s.

RAF Mildenhall RAF Lakenheath

The many military personnel have really made this little corner of England a home from home.

You’ll regularly see stunning American muscle cars, SUVs and other oversized vehicles driving around - barely able to squeeze through the narrow country roads and streets.

It is not uncommon to see signs being displayed reminding the airmen and women to navigate roundabouts the correct way, as it has been known for some visitors to drive around them the wrong way.

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The local area has a great American community feel, as lots former U.S. military now live in the surrounding villages after retiring from the USAF.

You'll regularly see the stars and stripes of the American flag proudly hung from homes or flagpoles erected in their front gardens - as many personnel choose to live off base in the adjacent villages. 

Every evening at 17:00 hrs at the lowering of flags on base, you can hear the national anthem of both the United Kingdom and United States play out over speakers, and can be heard as far as the village of Beck Row and town of Mildenhall.

It is a very popular location for aircraft photographers and Av Geeks too, as you can often hear and see lots of U.S. jets practising formation drills in the skies over Suffolk.

You can even pay for services such as haircuts and takeaway food, in the local shops outside of base using U.S. Dollars!

This is because many Americans transiting through to mainland Europe, making an aircraft fuel/administration stop and have no opportunity to get currency exchange to pound sterling, so the shopkeepers willingly accept dollars as payment.

On base it is a different story, personnel have all the amenities you could wish for – including, American fast food restaurants, bowling alleys, grocery stores selling the best American produce and more.

Security at these bases is paramount and are guarded 24/7 by highly trained and heavily armed military police.

Even President Donald Trump made a secret flying visit to RAF Mildenhall in 2019, en route to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam.

Suffolk and the East Coast of England is home to many pre/post World War Two UK and American air bases, mainly due to its geography and flat landscape, perfect for runways.

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