Date published: 16 August 2019
A Sunset Ceremony at RAF Scampton was the perfect tribute to a former Hampden pilot, who died serving his country.
Jason Launders (49) never met his grandfather, Pilot Officer, Harry Launders who died during the Second World War, 79 years ago.
West Lindsey District Councils’ Chairman, Cllr Steve England invited Jason, who is his son-in-law, to join him at the RAF Scampton Annual Reception and Sunset Ceremony.
Jason, who grew up in Lincolnshire, travelled over from Pennsylvania, where he currently lives, for the special occasion.
He said he always felt that he ‘missed out’ getting to know his grandfather and welcomed the opportunity to attend the event on July 11.
Jason said: “I had the great honour to accompany my father-in-law and Chairman of West Lindsey Council, to a reception and sunset service at RAF Scampton.
“The hangar, in which we met, holds a very special place for my family as, back in 1940, the very same hangar was home to 83 Squadron in which my grandfather, Pilot Officer O.H. Launders (Harry) served as a Hampden pilot.
“Sadly, like so many of his generation, he was killed on his return from a mission to Frankfurt on 8th July 1940 and is buried in Scampton village.
“My own father grew up without knowing his father and I was always felt I missed out a little in not having any grandfathers.
“Standing in a place where he must have once stood and trying to imagine what it was like is really the only connection I have with him. Despite the 79 years (almost to the day) the sunset service was a fitting tribute to those who served so selflessly in those desperate days.”
The event is held each year and was hosted by the Wing Commander James Parker who is the station commander at RAF Scampton.
Cllr England who became Chairman of the Council in May this year, said: “I was honoured to receive the invite and once I knew my daughter Tracy and her husband were visiting, I thought of Jason instantly to join me.
“It was a very moving ceremony and it was lovely to watch the Red Arrows display on the evening.”