A fighter jet navigator who achieved his boyhood dreams of a life in the skies before dying during a training exercise will be honoured for the first time through a unique commemorative campaign.
Flight Lieutenant Charles ‘Rusty’ Ruston became a Flying Officer in 1974 before being killed aged 29 in an advanced combat exercise near Las Vegas, six years later.
Flt Lt Ruston died after failing to eject before the aircraft hit the ground. A violent manoeuvre caused the right outer wing to separate from the airframe leaving the plane uncontrollable.
No physical memorial has been established for Rusty – until now.
Rusty, who was survived by his then-pregnant wife and daughter, will have his name placed on a special commemorative wall to be unveiled on Armistice Day in November.
The remembrance project offers members of the public the opportunity to have their name, or the name of a loved one, engraved onto a plaque for £100 – all of which will go to helping veterans through charity Royal British Legion Industries services.
Rusty’s sister, Lindy Henry, who has lived in Carterton for 33 years, said it is a ‘privilege’ to honour his bravery.
The 64-year-old said: “He was always willing to give his life if necessary – we are all enormously proud of him.
“To be able to leave a legacy behind in honour of Charlie’s life is something we are all just simply proud to be able to do.”
The Wall of Honour will be unveiled in the RBLI’s memorial garden in Aylesford, Kent on November 11 – precisely 100 years on from the end of the First World War.
Lindy said: “Just thinking about how I might feel brings me to tears. I know he will be just one name in a wall of many others, but it will be enough to know that it will long outlast us.
“And who knows, maybe some future generation – yet unborn – will visit and remember him.
“We keep him alive as much as we can now and hopefully that will continue.”
RBLI’s chief executive Brigadier Steve Sherry said: “It is right that we pay homage to those like Rusty who gave their lives in preparation for a conflict not yet realised.
“We are immensely proud to be able to offer the Wall of Honour as a place of permanent remembrance to the family of Flight Lieutenant Charles ‘Rusty’ Ruston.”