The body of 35-year-old Capt. Jennifer Casey returned to her hometown of Halifax on Sunday aboard a military plane that had left Abbotsford earlier in the day.
She was met by grieving family members and dignitaries who were there to pay their last respects.
“Accidents happen and no matter how we train we know there are risky parts within this job and that’s why I’m so proud of them,” said Governor-General of Canada Julie Payette.
Capt. Casey joined the military in 2014 after leaving a career in journalism. She quickly rose through the ranks and was serving as public affairs officer for the world-renowned Snowbirds demonstration team when the lead plane she was in crashed after takeoff in Kamloops last weekend.
She was en route to Comox with pilot, Capt. Richard McDougall, who survived the crash. The Snowbirds were close to wrapping up a coast to coast mission to inspire Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The fact that this happened during Operation Inspiration cheering us Canadians is even more touching,” added Payette.
People in the Comox Valley have a special relationship with the Snowbirds because the team trains there for two weeks every spring.
They attract fans from across Vancouver Island and there’s even a retired Tutor jet that was used by the Snowbirds mounted at the Comox Valley’s visitor centre.
“You know I think they really resonate with a lot of people in the Comox Valley,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells. “A lot of people who live here were military so they decided this is where they want to retire so there is that really strong connection and over the years we’ve had airshows and those airshows are really well-attended and of course the snowbirds are always the star of it.”
Several bouquets of flowers were left at the entrance to 19 Wing Comox since the crash to remember Capt. Casey.