‘They’re my family’ – Sheffield pensioner Tony Foulds speaks about the Mi Amigo plane crash ahead of anniversary
“I think that when I die, they will be waiting for me and we will go out on the Mi Amigo” – The emotional words of Tony Foulds as he remembers the crew members that saved his life in the Mi Amigo plane crash.
On February 22, 77 years ago, a US B-17 flying fortress aircraft named ‘Mi Amigo’ was returning from a mission when its engines started to fail.
The pilot was tasked with the decision to land in Endcliffe Park, where children were playing, or crash in the woodland area next to the park.
Lt John Kriegshauser chose the latter option sacrificing the life of himself and all nine of his crew members.
His quick thinking heroically saved the lives of the children – one of them Tony Foulds, who was playing on the field at the time.
The 75th anniversary of the crash was marked with a special flypast by US and British air forces, thanks to the help of Dan Walker from BBC breakfast.
The 84-year-old said that it was ‘unbelievable’ to have so many people involved all over the city and across the country.
Speaking about the flyover, he said: “I didn’t know until recently that it had to go through the president of the united states before I got it. There was a hell of a lot more planning than I thought.”
Since then, Tony has been given a ride in a plane over the crash site and a star on the Sheffield Hall of Fame and has met with four of the plane crew's surviving family members.
More than seven decades on, Tony remembers the events that changed his life forever and blames himself for the deaths of the crew members.
He said: “These men got back safe and died because of me.
“If it hadn’t been for us, I’m certain that they would have lived to a good age because there is no doubt they would have been able to land in this park.”
The Mi Amigo anniversary commemoration in Endcliffe Park has been cancelled for 2021 amid COVID fears and social distancing requirements.
Instead, wreaths will be laid on the memorial in the park by the groups involved in organising the event.
However, Tony has plans of his own; on the day of the anniversary he will visit the memorial to do the Lord’s prayer, and then a bugle will play the last post as well as 'Taps' which is the American ceremonial call.
In three years time, for the 80th anniversary of the crash, Tony is hoping to organise another fly over to commemorate the nine crew members who sadly passed away.
The pensioner from Lowedges told The Star that when he passes away, his ashes will be put behind the memorial in Endcliffe Park.
He said: “I’ve talked it out with my family, and when I die, I will be going behind the memorial.
“A lot of people think I’m crackers, but I think that when I die, they will be waiting for me, and we will go out on the Mi Amigo.
“They’re my family, they’re as much my family as what my family is.”