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Memorial ceremony held to salute fallen WWII pilots who collided over Norwich

PRESTON  — A memorial was being organized to honor two World War II Navy pilots who were killed when their fighter planes collided midair and crashed in Connecticut.

The Norwich Area Veterans Council organized a 75th anniversary memorial ceremony on Saturday for the fallen aviators, Ensigns George Kraus and Merle Longnecker.

The ceremony included a flyover of four Navy F-18 fighter jets from Virginia, which conducted "a missing-man formation" above the Preston Library to salute the two men. Organizer Tom Callinan told FOX61 "I've been trying to get the Navy, since May, to do the flyover. I just found out two days ago it was going to happen. It's just outstanding."

Both men were 22 years old and taking part in a combat training flight in October 1944 above Norwich State Hospital when they crashed into each other.

The council has helped protect the crash sites for more than a decade and put wreaths at the site ever year.

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