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Nova Scotians pay respects as four Cyclone crew members come home

The Canadian flag is draped out as the hearse containing the late Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, who was taken to a Truro funeral home, passes by near the on-ramp to Highway 102 near Aerotech Park on Thursday evening.
The Canadian flag is draped out as the hearse containing the late Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, who was taken to a Truro funeral home, passes by near the on-ramp to Highway 102 near Aerotech Park on Thursday evening. Pyke was among six crew members of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter killed in a crash off Greece on April 29. - Tim Krochak

Roxanne Oake knows well the risks and sacrifice that come with being a member of the military. 

Her husband is on a seven-month deployment with the Royal Canadian Navy and her daughter is a newly minted army private. 

“It hits home,” the Enfield resident said, the emotions of the day coming across clearly in her voice as she waited along with many others along Highway 102 to pay their respects to the fallen crew of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed into the Ionian Sea. 

Two motorcades bore the remains of four crew members, who arrived on a sultry Thursday evening at Halifax International Airport. 

One procession brought Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and his family to a funeral home in his hometown of Truro. Another carried Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morinand and MCpl. Matthew Cousins to a funeral home in Dartmouth. 

The hearses carrying Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin and MCpl. Matthew Cousins head toward Dartmouth near the on-ramp to Highway 102 near Aerotech Park on Thursday. They were among six crew members of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter killed in a crash off Greece on April 29. - Tim Krochak
The hearses carrying Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin and MCpl. Matthew Cousins head toward Dartmouth near the on-ramp to Highway 102 near Aerotech Park on Thursday. They were among six crew members of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter killed in a crash off Greece on April 29. - Tim Krochak

Also killed in the crash were Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, whose remains came home to Halifax on May 11, and Capt. Kevin Hagen, who will be repatriated in Victoria, B.C, on Saturday. 

Looking around at the cars lining the road and people gathered in small groups on an overpass near the airport where the motorcades passed by, Oake said she believes Canadians respect the military members who put their lives on the line for their country. 

The Cyclone members died when the aircraft crashed off Greece on April 29 when it was returning to its home frigate HMCS Fredericton. The investigation continues into the incident as military investigators concentrate on aircraft systems and human factors. 

“When I come out with my daughter and my husband, we get the waves and, you know, ‘Thank you for your service, and we appreciate all you do,’ ” she said. “And it’s not just for the military members, it’s the wives as well, the children.”

Oake said she is a good friend of a family member off Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, and others who attended the motorcade passing also spoke of connections to the crew members. 

Naval personnel salute as hearses pass by during a repatriation procession for four crew members killed in the crash of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter in Greece on April 29. Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, and MCpl. Matthew Cousins were taken to Nova Scotia funeral homes on Thursday evening. They and two other crew members were killed in the crash. - Tim Krochak
Naval personnel salute as hearses pass by during a repatriation procession for four crew members killed in the crash of a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter in Greece on April 29. Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, and MCpl. Matthew Cousins were taken to Nova Scotia funeral homes on Thursday evening. They and two other crew members were killed in the crash. - Tim Krochak

Brian MacLeod of Fall River said he knows Capt. Brendan MacDonald’s family.

“My older daughters were taught by his father in school,” said MacLeod, who brought a big Canadian flag along to his spot on the overpass. “Unfortunately (the risk) is a given, I did lose a cousin in Afghanistan as well. We paid our respects when he came home and we feel it’s just the right thing to do." 

MacLeod was accompanied by his daughter Haileigh who has been a member of the 865 Air Cadet Squadron for three years and before that she was with a squadron in Trenton, the same one that MacDonald attended. 

“Not everyone is able to come out with work and commitments,” she said. “If you’re able to come out, it really is worth it because some family members can’t be here so just to be able to pay your respects, it’s really nice to see everyone come together.”

A group of Halifax firefighters, many of whom serve in the military or have connections to the military, stood near a big water tanker adorned with a Canadian flag on the overpass. 

‘It’s a somber day,” said Lt. Robert Andrews. “We pay homage to our guys who serve our country in the military and as volunteer firefighters here today, it’s an honour to be here.”

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