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Finally home: Remains of Tampa airman missing since 1952 returned

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - The remains of a local hero finally came home Thursday after he died in a plane crash in 1952. 

Family members of Airman Isaac Anderson Sr., tell News Channel 8 he disappeared after a military plane crash in Alaska.  In 2012, his remains were found on a mountainside.

"I'm just glad it's happening. I'm glad it's over," his son, Isaac Anderson Jr., said.

Family members joined Air Force members and watched as American Airlines flight 809 arrived in Tampa to a fire truck water salute. It pulled up to the gate around 1 p.m.

Anderson was born in Brewster but later moved to Tampa where he eventually met his wife, Dorothy Anderson, who has since passed away. The two had one son together. 

Anderson's granddaughter, Tonja Anderson-Dell, said her grandfather joined the U.S. Air Force because he wanted to provide for his family.

On Nov. 22, 1952, Anderson and 51 other American soldiers were headed for Anchorage on a C-124 Globemaster II. But the plane slammed into Mount Gannett in Alaska, killing all 52 people aboard.

According to the Associated Press, the wreckage from the crash was found soon after but later became buried in snow and forgotten as it became part of the glacier.

In June 2012, the wreckage was rediscovered by an Army National Guard crew during a routine training mission. A team has traveled to the glacier every year since to try and recover remains. 

"I started in 1999, thinking I would never get this day.  And we're standing here together, interviewing with you and I'm getting my day," Anderson-Dell said just before the plane arrived.

So far, 40 soldiers were identified and returned home to their families.

Airman Anderson's return sunk in after a flag-draped casket rolled off the airplane and onto Florida soil.

"It became real at that moment. At that moment. That he was actually home," an emotional Anderson-Dell said.

A memorial service was held Saturday at noon, followed by a burial. 


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