Time seemed to stand still for a little while Friday afternoon at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport as a Navy sailor made his final flight home.
As Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Reif's casket came off the plane, everyone from the officers on the tarmac to the people inside the GSP terminal were paying their respects.
For Chief Petty Officer Zach Misner, this is his first time dealing with the loss of an Upstate sailor.
"You always wonder what the military does out there when you're on the other side of it," Misner said. "From a personal side, all I could think about was when I had to inform the family. All I could think about was that guy telling my dad that your son has passed, and it was extremely difficult to tell him."
Reif died early Sunday morning along a stretch of road in Jacksonville, FL, where he was based as a sailor. According to authorities there, he was helping a woman cross the street when he was hit by an alleged drunk driver.
Police also tell us the alleged driver, Francisco Mendez, drove off, only to come back moments later to see Reif's body on the ground, before driving off again.
By now, many have heard of Reif's story and in their eyes, he's a hero.
"As we were getting everybody organized out on the tarmac, we looked up and saw everyone staring in the window. And they obviously know what's going on," Misner said. "And it was quite a scene to see people actually showing their respect."
As Reif's family grieves, the Navy will be there to help them.
"He was out there doing what he loved to do, from what the family tells me. He loved being in the Navy," Misner said.
The funeral for Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Reif is set for Wednesday, April 25 at 3 p.m. at First Baptist North Spartanburg in Boiling Springs.
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