Mi Amigo Memorial (Picture: PA).

Mi Amigo Flypast: US Governor Praises Pensioner's 'Profound Devotion'

Tony Foulds has spent decades tending a monument to honour 10 US airmen who died in Sheffield in 1944.

Mi Amigo Memorial (Picture: PA).

The Mi Amigo Memorial in Sheffield's Endcliffe Park (Picture: PA).

A US Governor has officially commended a pensioner for his dedication to honouring the lives of 10 US airmen who crashed in Sheffield in 1944.

A flypast took place over the city last week to commemorate the American aircrew.

Tony Foulds was just eight years old when he saw a B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed 'Mi Amigo', crash on 22 February 1944 as it apparently veered away from him and his friends in Sheffield's Endcliffe Park while returning from a bombing raid.

"The pilot obviously saw the kids," says Pat Davey, Chairman of Freshfield Royal British Legion. 

"The pilot had to decide whether to kill his own crew or the kids."

The pilot steered the falling plane into a nearby forest. His decision killed everyone on board, but saved the lives of those on the ground.

Since then, Mr Foulds, now 82, has dedicated himself to looking after the park's memorial to the men, tending it six days a week for decades.

Mr Foulds' appearance on national television last month sparked a huge social media campaign. He wanted a flyby in memory of the 10 US airmen who died.

The hashtag '#GetTonyAFlypast' quickly went viral on social media and soon after, leading to the US Air Force and RAF announcing a flypast would take place over Sheffield.

The captain of the B-17 flight, Lieutenant John G. Kriegshauser was from St. Louis, Missouri and Tony's efforts have since been recognised by the State Governor, Michael Parson. He wrote in a letter:

"I, Michael L. Parson, Governor of the State of Missouri, do hereby recognise Tony Foulds for his profound devotion to remembering and commemorating the Mi Amigo crew.

"Today the people of Missouri say "thank you" for so many decades of honouring noble service and fostering a spirit of cooperation among peoples and nations."

Thousands of people gathered at dawn for the flypast (Picture: US Dept of Defense).
Large numbers of people gathered at dawn in Sheffield for the flypast last week (Picture: US Dept of Defense).

Mr Foulds says that when people ask him about his family, he does not simply mention his sons, daughters and grandchildren, but he adds the crew of the plane. 

"[I say I have] ten close friends – they’ll always be my friends."

Huge crowds gathered to watch him see his lifelong dream fulfilled when a special flypast marked the 75th anniversary of a crash which claimed the lives of 10 US airmen.