Tim Jones' final flight

After taking in one teary tribute after another, the large crowd gathered in the Centennial Theatre parking lot to remember late North Shore Rescue leader Tim Jones had grown weary — but vowed to stay until the final send-off.

They came from all walks of life. Some brought their children; others had a faithful companion at their side.

One older man whose leg was in a walking cast rested on a small, metal stepladder. Hiking poles protruded from the backpack of the person standing next to him.

Elsewhere in the crowd, a woman, one hand in her pocket, unwaveringly held a cardboard “Thank You” sign over her head.

Every single one of them watched intently as Jones was memorialized by his life-long friends, colleagues — and, lastly, his beloved daughter.

At times, some of those gathered wiped their eyes, while the mid-afternoon sun beamed down and warmed their faces.

When the formal portion of the service was over, they made their way to the northern corner of the parking lot. There would be a final recognition — one fit for a hero.

Uniformed emergency personnel evenly encircled the grass field behind the theatre, where two large, yellow Talon helicopters were waiting.

Remaining NSR members, cloaked in their red jackets, formed two lines that created a direct path to the larger helicopter where Jones’ family was waiting.

A procession slowly led by a black ribbon-draped Advanced Life Support ambulance carrying Jones’ remains arrived at the edge of the field.

After the last goodbyes on the ground, Jones' remains were loaded onto the helicopter. Moments later, there was a military salute as the Talon, which Jones would often ride in during life-saving missions, slowly lifted off and flew towards the gleaming sun.

Then the crowd watched, waved and clapped in appreciation as the Talon returned for the flyover on its way to Jones' final trip home to the mountains.

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