The Highway of Heroes was once again lined with emergency services and a number of people to pay their respects to six fallen Canadian Armed Forces members who were killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece on April 29.
There were six Canadian Forces members on board, but only Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough remains have been recovered.
It was the only casket coming off the Globemaster aircraft at CFB Trenton on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.
Also killed in the crash of the Cyclone helicopter were Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, and Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin.
It was Cowbrough’s first deployment.
A video Cowbrough posted on Facebook shows her playing the bagpipes in tribute to the 22 people killed in Canada’s deadliest shooting in April in Nova Scotia.
Members of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regimental Pipe Band from Peterborough gathered on the on-ramp of Highway 401 at County Road 28 to pay tribute to Cowbrough who was a member of the Pipe Band.
Drum Major Adam Vizza knew Cowbrough and said, when Hasty P’s heard the news of the crash and death of Cowbroough it was, shock followed by disbelief.
“It’s been hard for everybody.”
“Everyone had their own dealings with Abby and loved her in their own way.”
Vizza said knowing the 23-year-old, there was no stopping Cowbrough in her goals.
“She was a firecracker. She was a good kid. She went for what she wanted, she practised hard even when she was a Cadet, even when she was a piper. She had the talent and the desire to do both.”
Vizza said he has stood along the Highway of Heroes before knowing other friends that have been killed in Afghanistan.
“It’s not my first time through it. But it does show the support of Canadians across the country.”
Joining the pipe band were Port Hope Police Chief Bryant Wood, Deputy Chief Darren Strongman and a member of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
“We’re trying to make sure people stay as far away from each other as the can,” said Wood.
“Just like any other time you’re taken by the sacrifice of these individuals. In this particular case it was not in the act of war but it doesn’t really diminish the sacrifice all of our armed services people commit to every day. You feel a sense of pride and loss and we are here to support the families.”
Northumberland OPP Constable Rob Simpson was one of the officers blocked all on-ramps for the procession to pass by.
“Social distancing is important, but repatriations are important and we’re going to do our best to keep our distance and ast the same time honour our fallen soldiers.”
Gay Bannister who is 81-years-old from Cobourg said she always comes to the Highway of Heroes whenever a fallen soldier comes home.
Her son served in Afghanistan and on Wednesday Bannister and her friend, 84-year-old Edna Ledger who is legally blind were the first to arrive at the Hamilton Road bridge just east of Port Hope wearing red and carrying Canadian flags.
The pair weren’t going to let COVID-19 stop them from honouring the fallen. They brought masks along and kept a social distance from others along the Hamilton Road bridge.
Veteran Maggie Van Tassell came from north of Barrie to the Highway of Heroes on Toronto Road in Port Hope.
“I am here in respect of the fallen soldiers. As a veteran, what our men and women give everyday is priceless.
Driving over two hours to Port Hope to watch approximately 15 seconds of the procession pass by, Van Tassell said it’s well worth it.
“There is people that can’t be here. There is family and friends back in Nova Scotia and all over Canada that can’t be here. So you have to be here for them.”
Sheila Clayton is a veteran of 41 years in the Canadian military and also came from north of Barrie.
“I had to come. It’s not only important to honour those who fought and died in Afghanistan, but for those that are on other peacekeeping or NATO duties and have fallen.”