Emotional doesn’t begin to describe the feeling as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds team landed in Moose Jaw, Sask., their official home, on Monday for the first time since the death of Capt. Jennifer Casey.
Casey was involved in a fatal plane crash in Kamloops, B.C. on May 17 during the Snowbirds’ cross-Canada tour.
The team, who are stationed at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, returned home in a C-130 Hercules aircraft.
“After the week’s events, we really wanted showcase that Moose Jaw is supporting them and thinking of them,” 15 Wing Hon. Col. Lisa Franks said.
“We arranged the city to get on board with making huge displays that the team can see from the sky.”
Community members drew chalk hearts and messages in the streets to welcome the team home.
With the encouragement of Franks and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a large Canadian flag was also displayed on the sports field at Central Collegiate during the Snowbirds’ return.
“We just want them to know that we’re here for them and this is one way of showing that,” said Lyle Johnson, one of many who helped lay the flag across the field.
None of the Snowbirds’ team were available for comment, as they asked for privacy while continuing to mourn the loss of Casey.
“It was really important we respect the team as they are grieving. We didn’t want to intrude on the time and the process that they have,” Franks said.
“We felt this was a good way. We knew where they would be and at what time so it was good to come together and say ‘we are supporting you and are in our hearts.’”
She can’t speak for them, but believes they wold appreciate the gesture.
“I hope it lifts their spirits a little bit. They go around Canada and entertain us putting on a show,” Franks said.
“It unites Canadians with hope and now we can flip the script on them and give them a display to show we are thinking of them.”
15 Wing Chaplain is also requesting that any photos taken of the hearts across Moose Jaw are emailed to Sjamj@hotmail.com so it can put together a digital memory book for Casey’s family.
Casey, 35, was from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her body was returned home on Sunday. She was a public affairs officer with the Canadian Armed forces.
— With files from Mickey Djuric.