Jani Summala was well known and loved by the axis players, so his death about January 18, 2009 shocked us all. Everyone wanted to do a memorial for him, and Keldar held an impromptu one for him soon after the word was out. Everyone had ideas but no one person put forth a plan for all to know about, and so that is what I did. Summala’s squad "Osasto Lagus” communicated to me a time that would work for them and others (being an international game, making sure people know when something happens in their time zone becomes critical!).
The big challenge was how to handle the expected hundreds who wanted to attend his memorial. Osasto Lagus wanted to have 2 events, a squad oriented memorial to hold it in their “home town” of Virton (but was forced to do it in Metz on live server), and naturally the attendees exceeded the 64 limit. The bigger one was planned for the Training Server with big fly formation, but some issues on the Training Server canceled it that week.
The logistical issues (the 64 viz limit) and how to express our loss made me think over the days, and I came upon some ideas for the event. Osasto Lagus CO Darkkis mentioned to me wanting to do a gun salute with 88’s, but could not do it for the OL ceremony. Summala was a flier and wingman, always part of a team, and even joined the Axis HC in the Luftwaffe branch.
When I led RDP raids he often joined as either a 109 escort or He-111 (and he was great at staying in formation!). He was a great pilot no matter what he flew. The tradition for remembering lost pilots is the “Missing Man” formation, a flight of 4 same aircraft in a “V”, where one of the flight will pull away from the formation, and an obvious choice, but I modified it to have 3 He-111's protected by a 109G, the 109G representing Summala from a photo of him in front of a real 109G in Finland. Having the 109G flying away from the He-111’s left a feeling of vulnerability and loneliness for a missing friend.
The solution for the memorial was to use Area51 on the Training Server, making use of the close proximity of spawn points for the audience to spawn allied troops so they could see formation (because the game gives precedence to enemy units first) and we would not waste time setting up. I put the word out and several members of LW, HC and others joined me in TS. Myself, Rote3, and Messtin spawned He-111’s with Darkkis the 109G and began to circle the island and gather late comers. Bersi and Spyr0x led the others who joined to make a tight group well behind the Missing Man formation as part of the memorial procession, and on the ground Woodbine created a mission on the allied side for the audience (large attendance), with KJ sending out word on the Live server.
Everything came together and the formation passed over the audience about 300m just north of spawn points in Area51, and it went very well. As soon as we passed, I then told everyone in flying mission to join me as an 88mm to do a gun salute (with some camera men). 7 of us spawned 88mm (correct for 21 gun salute, I think it just happened), we lined up on the road, and fired of 3 vollies as best as we could despite the game lag. All of this was filmed and SShot by several people.
Unrehearsed and unpracticed, it went very well, and I thank all who helped and participated. Pictures here.
S! Summala, we will always be looking up for you.
Luftwaffe Field Marshal (CO)