Melvin Rector was a gunner on the famous Memphis Belle. He returned to England for a visit, the first time since he left in 1945, where he passed away aged 94 on his first day of the trip. According to Mail Online, Melvin Rector arrived in the UK on May 6 to visit the base where he served during World War II in the 71 years since the war's end. He died before getting to revisit RAF Snetterton Heath, where he was stationed during the war
The report tell us that the American veteran from Florida State, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1943 until 1951. It tells that during his time in the military, he flew on the famed Memphis Belle, a B-17 Flying Fortress that completed 25 combat missions with its crew intact.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Melvin Rector, who helped defend Great Britain during World War II, The Washington Post reports, served there with the 96th Bomb Group in 1945 as a radio operator and gunner on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, flying eight combat missions over Germany during the spring of the war’s final year. On four of these missions, his plane came under heavy fire. One almost proved catastrophic, and the plane returned to base with holes dotting its wings.
Surprisingly the funeral turned into a larger occasion when members of both the British and American armed forces turned up to honor Rector's service. He would have slipped quietly away but people turned out to honour and remember him at his funeral.