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'Will never be forgotten': Procession honours Capt. Jennifer Casey
VANCOUVER -- A Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team member who was killed in a plane crash returned to her hometown to her final resting place.
A homecoming ceremony was held at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport to honour Capt. Jennifer Casey.
Casey's family was joined by military and invited guests for the ceremony on the tarmac before they were led on a motorcade procession through the streets of Halifax to honour her memory.
The 35-year-old public affairs officer was in a plane that went down in a Kamloops, B.C. residential neighbourhood last Sunday.
Casey and the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, were both ejected from the plane. MacDougall landed on the roof of a home where he sustained serious injuries but is expected to recover.
Casey had been flying with the Snowbirds as part of Operation Inspiration, a cross-country tour with the purpose of lifting people's spirits during the pandemic.
"Bringing Operation Inspiration to us in that time, I think was profoundly meaningful for her. We owe her a great debt of gratitude for what she gave and what she gave to us as Canadians," said Honourary Lt.-col Corinne MacLellan, a friend and colleague.
Her family called it a mission that was "designed for her."
"Her beautiful smile and positively infectious personality could brighten anyone’s day and she proudly served the mission as she flew across our great nation with a team that she adored, the Snowbirds," her family said in a statement last week.
Before joining the military, Casey studied journalism at the University of King's College.
Her professor, Stephen Kimber, remembers her cheerful disposition and determination to accomplish her goals.
"It was clear to me that she was going to achieve what she wanted to achieve, which at that time, was a job in broadcasting," Kimber said.
Casey worked at a Halifax radio news talk show before becoming a public affairs officer with the military in 2014.
The family asked spectators of the procession were asked to wear red and white, the official colours of the Snowbirds.
Vehicles were pulled over on the side of the highway and people stood outside of them carrying Canadian flags and wearing red and white.
"The community should also feel comfortable wearing Habs jerseys, Tragically Hip apparel, and Star Wars clothing as well since Jenn was a fan of all of them," said Capt. Jamie Tobin with the Canadian Armed Forces in an email.
Kimber said the clothing suggestions offer a glimpse into the fun-loving person that Casey was.
"She was that kind of person. So, I think this be in many ways will be a celebration of a life that was cut too short, but nonetheless, a life that was well-lived."
More than 10,000 people watched the homecoming ceremony on Facebook.
The procession ended at the Atlantic Funeral Home.
"We ask those that knew and loved Jenn to cherish the memories that you have of her and continue to bask in the light that she shone on everyone’s life," the family said in the statement. "She is gone but will never be forgotten."