The body of a fallen airman is coming home.
Capt. William Dubois grew up in New Castle, Colo., about an hour from Grand Junction. He was killed Dec. 1 in a jet crash in the Middle East while flying a mission to fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria. For security reasons, the Air Force often will not divulge where its jets are flying in the Middle East.
Thursday, the casket containing his body will land in Grand Junction and be met by his parents. Escorted by a law enforcement officer, local paper Post Independent reports that Dubois' parents will then take the casket to the Grand Valley Funeral Home, also in Grand Junction. People have been asked to line the route from the airport to the funeral home.
The loss of a young life hit the small, close-knit community of New Castle hard. Though Dubois, 30, left more than a decade ago to attend college at the University of Colorado in Boulder, he is still remembered fondly.
“Will was in a special group of kids that remained close years afterwards...the distances didn’t stop them from staying together, and I was fortunate to be a part of that," Dubois's high school principal, Todd Ellis, told sister station KCNC.
Ellis said Dubois was a man with "multiple talents" who shined at his small school.
"I think at a large school he would have been involved in everything," Ellis told KCNC.
After graduating college, Dubois joined the Air Force. He was assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron out of Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. He and his wife Ashley made their home in South Carolina.
Classmates who stayed close to Dubois over the years plan to honor their fallen friend by continuing a tradition they started with him, Ellis told KCNC.
"I’ve been on the phone with his buddies and we’ve talked about…we had a tradition that when we could get together over the years we’d make Christmas cookies—some pretty nasty looking gingerbread cookies that we would decorate. And we are going to do that again this year and toast that to Will."
The 20th Fighter Wing issued a statement the day after Dubois was killed.
“Losing Capt. Dubois is sad and tragic. Our most sincere condolences are with his family, his friends, and squadron members during this difficult time. Capt. Dubois was a patriot: was willing to put his life on the line every day in service to his nation. He was a valued airman, pilot, and friend of those he touched here at Shaw Air Force Base. He will be greatly missed."
Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered flags at half-staff Thursday through Saturday to honor Dubois.