The remains of 17 service members were recovered by the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command and Joint Task Force team from a 1952 aircraft crash site.
Among the casualties was Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin, of Elwood, Ind., whose remains returned home to rest July 10.
Waiting at the Indianapolis International Airport for him were his family and friends who gathered on the tarmac to receive his body along with members of the Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Honor Guard who performed the dignified transfer. The Honor Guard also served as pallbearers for the funeral ceremony, which was held July 12.
“I can hardly describe the anticipation,” said Paul Martin, the eldest surviving brother. “Mom and dad (who are both deceased) both kept thinking that one of these days they’ll find him and bring him home so they bought three cemetery plots rather than two.”
His long awaited homecoming came after Department of Defense scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory identified the remains from the 11 crewmembers and 41 passengers who were aboard the a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed on Nov. 22, 1952, about 50 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska. All aboard were presumed dead and search parties were unable to locate or recover those on board at the time due to adverse weather conditions.
Paul said he was overwhelmed with emotions when he learned that the site had been uncovered earlier this year. He and his six siblings received his brother’s wallet which contained Howard’s driver’s license and Social Security card.
“A melting glacier allowed them to find my brother,” Paul Martin said. “He came down 8,000 feet and 12 miles to be discovered 60 years later.”
An Alaskan National Guard helicopter crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris in a melting glacier during a training mission near the original crash site on June 9, 2012. The discovery launched a search and recovery attempt by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Joint Task Force team where they discovered and identified the remains through DNA on April 18.
Paul and his sister, Kay, had given DNA samples earlier, hoping that one day they would be able to bring their brother home. Sixty-two years later, their brother’s remains were finally here.
Hundreds of people including veterans and people as far away as Michigan lined the streets of Elwood waving American flags to pay their respects to the fallen airman. As a testament to Howard’s service and sacrifice to the country, the mayor of Elwood named July 12 as Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin Remembrance Day.