10 May 2018

Middlesex fighter jet hero to be commemorated through RBLI's Wall of Honour

A Middlesex fighter jet navigator who achieved his boyhood dreams of a life in the skies before dying during a training exercise will be memorialised for the first time in the UK as part of RBLI's unique commemoration campaign.

Flight Lieutenant Charles ‘Rusty’ Ruston, who watched the planes fly above nearby RAF Northolt as a child, became a Flying Officer in 1974 before tragically dying at 29-years-old in the renowned Red Flag advanced combat exercise near Las Vegas, USA, six years later.

No physical memorial has been established for Rusty, who was survived by his then pregnant wife and daughter. However, his name will now be placed on Royal British Legion Industries' Wall of Honour in the our historic memorial garden in Aylesford, Kent.

The commemorative project offers members of the public the opportunity to have their name, or the name of a loved one, engraved into a plaque for £100 – all of which will go to helping veterans through the RBLI’s range of services.

Rusty’s sister, Lindy Henry, said it is privilege to honour his bravery which was so unwavering that he knew that, should he ever see combat, he would not be able to escape the effect of the nuclear bombs his plane would be equipped with, due to its low-flying design.

She added: “I am sure that anyone who has ever been to the funeral of a serviceman will understand that the hearing of The Last Post is something that always brings tears.

“And the folding up on the Union Flag that covered the coffin, carried by his fellow servicemen, is an image that stays behind the eyes forever.

“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.

“He was always willing to give his life if necessary – we are all enormously proud of him.”

All donors to the project will be personally invited to attend the unveiling of the wall at a special event in RBLI’s memorial garden, Aylesford, Kent on Armistice Day this November – precisely 100 years on from the end of the First World War.

While all the money raised through the project will go directly to supporting current ex-forces personnel through RBLI’s services such as the national employment support programme LifeWorks, or their social enterprise which employs veterans and people with disabilities, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company. 

Lindy added: “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 Sherry Sherry CMG OBE said: “We quite rightfully honour those who fall in combat through conflicts all around the world.

“It is also 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.

“We welcome anyone, with any story or reasoning to join us in this commemorative campaign.”

To leave a lasting legacy and join the Wall of Honour, visit www.rbli.co.uk/wallofhonour or contact fundraising@rbli.co.uk or call 01622 795966.