Elwood airman’s remains returned 61 years later

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s the final leg of a journey that began six decades ago. The family of Hoosier airman Howard Martin, who was killed in a plane crash 61 years ago, was at the airport on Thursday as his remains arrived back home again in Indiana.

It’s a moment of agony.

“My mother, she died with the hope that she would see it. Even bringing his body back,” said Paul Martin, Howard’s younger brother.

It’s also a moment of joy.

“Praise God. I’m here. It’s moments like this, that you get flooded with emotions,”  Martin said, standing on the tarmac at Indianapolis International Airport, waiting for the plane carrying the casket with the remains of his brother to arrive.

Airman 3rd Class Howard Martin was one of 52 people killed when the C-124 Globemaster in which he was riding flew into an Alaskan glacier. The plane was going from an Air Force base in Seattle to one in Anchorage. Martin was 21 at the time of the crash.

“You can’t hardly describe the anticipation. So, I find myself, still waiting for that casket to come down out of that plane,” Paul Martin said.

In 2012, the wreckage of the C-124 was spotted by an Alaskan Army National Guard unit plane flying over the area.  A year later, officials sent the family Howard’s wallet, which was found on the glacier. His drivers license and social security card were in the wallet. In April, DNA confirmed they had found Howard’s remains.

“For 60 years we waited for this,” Paul said.

On Thursday, those remains are back home and returned with full military honors. It is closure Paul says.

“God can heal all the hurts that we’ve ever experienced. And so, I praise God for the one who really brought this together,” he said.

There were seven Martin children.  All six of the surviving Martin brothers and sisters were at the airport when the remains arrived.

Howard will be laid to rest in Elwood on Saturday.

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