A mission meant to lift spirits took a tragic turn on Sunday when news broke that one of the Royal Canadian Airforce Snowbirds had crashed in Kamloops, BC.
It wasn’t long before everyone’s worst fears were confirmed-a team member had perished in the crash. Capt. Jenn Casey, just 35-years-old, was later identified as the victim. A little over a week earlier, she and the Snowbirds team had flown over Greater Napanee as part of Operation Inspiration, a cross-country tour meant to salute Canadians working on the frontlines to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Casey and the rest of the Snowbirds were featured on last week’s cover of the Napanee Beaver. Suffice to say the jets’ short visit through the skies of Napanee had its intended effect as photos of the planes flooded social media just minutes after they had soared out of sight. Residents across the town stopped what they were doing that Friday to look up to the sky hopeful of catching just a glimpse of the famed Snowbirds. Their time in our air space was limited-after all they made it from Gatineau to Trenton in just over an hour. That didn’t mean their ‘visit’ wasn’t memorable.
This community and hundreds of others across Canada were still basking in the excitement of their flyover when the devastating news of the crash broke on Sunday afternoon. Just as the country was starting to show signs of returning to a sense of normalcy, more heartbreak. That the accident happened while on a mission to boost the morale of the country makes it hurt just that much more-she and the team were simply trying to make us all smile again.
I didn’t know Capt. Jenn Casey personally. Her role within the Snowbirds was public affairs officer. As such we did correspond ever so briefly through email ahead of their visit to Greater Napanee. It’s also entirely possible we may have covered the same events during her time as a broadcaster in Belleville. Reading comments from friends and family however, it’s clear she had all the makings of a great news personality. An individual who cared for the community and was proud to serve it. Those that did know her described her as a dedicated journalist who considered working for the Snowbirds as her dream job. Her journalistic career included a stop in the Quinte region before she took her first military job at CFB Trenton.
There’s no doubt Casey’s final mission was an important one, striving to provide a much needed morale boost for the country. And there’s no more noble a cause than that.
Rest in peace, Capt. Casey.