By Adam Pinkser
Channel 2 News
4:58 PM AKDT, September 28, 2012
Tonja Anderson finally got as close as she could to her grandfather's final resting place after more than a decade of searching.
Isaac Anderson was among 52 people who died when a Korean War era plane crashed into Mount Gannett nearly 60 years ago. Experts say only two percent of the aircraft was found, some of that was on display for Anderson Friday.
"It makes me have a different kind of respect for those people,” Anderson said about the aircraft recovery team. “When you're a family member and you're reading it, you truly don't understand that it's inaccessible, now that I’m here and I can see it, I understand it."
We first told you about the wreckage in June after an air National Guard helicopter accidentally discovered some debris near the bottom of the Colony Glacier.
Historian Douglas Beckstead says the massive C-124 Globemaster was blinded by bad weather en route to Anchorage from Seattle on November 24th 1952, when it crashed into Mount Gannett, the wreckage tumbled into the Colony Glacier.
It finally revealed itself 60 years later, after the glacier retreated an estimated 14 miles.
"If they had been 200 feet higher or to the left, they would have gone right past it," Beckstead said of the ill-fated flight through the mountains.
Military officials recovered maps, navigational tools, and a raft, even a cooking stove still full of fuel.
Anderson and Beckstead say the real story is the people who were on that flight.
"There was one man on board who had just proposed to his girlfriend before he left, said Beckstead. “In the case of two other crewmen, they had written letters within two hours before getting on that plane to come up here."
Both Beckstead and Anderson have become close to some of the other families who lost loved ones on the plane.
“I’ve spoken with a gentleman who remembered his father telling him goodbye, see you in a couple days, added Anderson. “I spoke with another family that's still having a hard time dealing with this and it's been almost 60 years."
The military is still determining whether any human remains will be identified, but for Tonja Anderson this is the kind of closure she was looking for.
Anderson had been asking the military for more than a decade to flyover the glacier and give her grandfather proper military honors.
"If I don't get anything, my mission was the flag, this is icing on the cake."
Anderson’s grandmother passed away 10 years ago, not ever knowing if her husband was accounted for, Tonja says she fulfilled her grandmother's dream by putting this mystery to rest.
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