SALT LAKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – A somber return for the Utah pilot killed in a plane crash off the coast of England. He’s back home and his family is preparing for his funeral on the fourth of July.
Kenneth “Kage” Allen was an assistant chief of weapons at tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron. He was deployed to England to assist the Royal Air Force in February but died when his plane went down during a training exercise this month. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
On Friday, Allen was finally brought home, arriving at Salt Lake International shortly before 2 p.m. His casket was draped with the American flag inside the hearse taking him to Russon Mortuary in Farmington.
Over 100 people, including police officers, active-duty military and motorcycle riders lined up along 3700 West to pay their respects.
One of them, Ken Farris, served with the Army 82nd Airborne. He says it’s important for him and his friends to pay tribute when a fallen soldier comes home.
“He’s a brother. It doesn’t matter which branch of service. It’s kind of like [being] siblings. We can pick on each other, but we always take care of our own,” Farris says.
That’s a sentiment shared by veteran Bob Dellamar.
He says, “Army, Navy, Coast Guard… it doesn’t matter. He’s a veteran, active duty. He’s one of our own.”
Dellamar says it’s heartbreaking to see soldiers become vilified because of current political tensions within the country. He says things will get better, as they always do, but it’s still important to him to honor people who serve.
“I was, from ‘73 to ‘79, in the Air Force, at the end of the Vietnam War. I saw a lot of things, and it really hurts. Any time we bring one of ours home this way, it’s painful,” he says.
Many of the well-wishers who greeted Allen followed the procession all the way to Farmington. Department of Veterans and Military Affairs Executive Director Gary Harter says Utah is an extremely patriotic state that wants to honor military members.
“What you’re going to see up through his funeral on the Fourth of July is an outpouring of love and affection,” Harter says.
Allen’s family is working with casualty assistance officers from Hill Air Force Base to ensure their immediate needs are met. The Utah National Guard also has a survivor assistance program to help the families of fallen soldiers.
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