The Airway Heights community gathered along Highway 2 Thursday afternoon – American flags in hand – to welcome home two fallen airmen.
The bodies of Captain Victoria Pinckney and Tech Sergeant Herman "Tre" Mackey were returned to the base Thursday. The third airmen killed on May 3 in a KC-135 crash in Kyrgyzstan, Captain Mark Voss, went home to Texas.
At 11 a.m. the first American flag was raised along Highway 2 atop an Airway Heights Fire Department ladder truck. Soon after, more Stars and Stripes dotted the road. People were there even if they had to work, some just because and others because they know what it's like to lose someone you love.
"I've lost friends and, I don't know, that are very close to my heart," Amber Pope said.
Pope's husband is in the Navy Reserves. She wanted to be there for the airmen because, she says, they gave her that right.
"Everything they've lost, friends we'll never see again, they gave it all for us," Pope said.
She was joined by other military wives, family members, community members, police, firefighters and Airway Heights city employees.
"We're just here to show our respect for the airmen and to show our support for Fairchild Air Force Base," Daneka Keith said.
They wanted an hour for just a few seconds with the airmen – to salute them.
"Spokane stands behind them, we recognize their sacrifice, we'll never forget them, for the rest of our lives we'll be able to think about them," Pope said.
A public memorial for all three airmen is schedules for May 28 at the INB Performing Arts Center. It will start at 1 p.m.