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Airman killed in 1952 crash in Alaska returns home

Paul Martin, oldest brother of Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin, wipes a tear from his eye during his brother's funeral July 12, 2014 in Elwood, Indiana. Howard Martin died November 22, 1952 during a C-124 crash in Alaska. His remains were not recovered or identified until earlier in 2014 and were returned home July 10, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sarah Hall-Kirchner)

Paul Martin,  brother of Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin, during his brother’s funeral July 12 in Elwood, Indiana.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sarah Hall-Kirchner)

The remains of an airman recovered in 2012 from a six-decade-old crash site in the Alaska mountains are now home.

Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin, of Elwood, Indiana, was one of 52 service members who perished in the Nov. 22, 1952 crash — and one of only 17 whose remains have been identified since an Army National Guard crew discovered the unearthed wreckage during a training mission two years ago.

The C-124 Globemaster came to rest on a glacier and disappeared under an avalanche of rock and snow after flying into a mountain during a winter storm. The melting glacier had traveled 12 miles from the place of impact when the wreckage was spotted.

An eight-person team from  Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command flew to the glacier to collect human remains in 2012. It took many more months of testing to identify the 17.

Martin’s family and friends gathered on the tarmac of Indianapolis International Airport July 10 to receive his remains in a dignified transfer ceremony, according to a news release from Air Mobility Command. Also returned to the Martin family: the airman’s driver’s license and Social Security card.

“I can hardly describe the anticipation,” the airman’s brother, Paul Martin, said in the release. “Mom and dad 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.”

Martin’s parents died before that happened.

Members of the Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Honor Guard transport the remains of Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin during a dignified arrival at the Indianapolis International Airport July 10, 2014. Martin died during a C-124 crash in 1952 and his remains were recovered earlier in 2014.

Members of the Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Honor Guard transport the remains of Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin.

The airman was buried July 12. The Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Honor Guard served as pallbearers at the airman’s funeral.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Elwood waving American flags to celebrate Martin’s return, the news release said, and the mayor of Elwood declared July 12 Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin Remembrance Day.

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