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Remains of U.S. Airman from Tampa returned home after over 60 years missing

Airman Isaac Anderson, Sr.'s remains arrived at TIA
Posted at 5:17 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 17:25:59-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The remains of U.S. Airman Issac Anderson Sr. are finally home after over 60 years missing.

Isaac Anderson Jr. grew up never knowing his "senior."

"When I was growing up, I expected to see him any day, just show up,” he said. "I would have had a better life with him."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa woman's relentless drive to find grandfather's missing remains pays off

Isaac Anderson Sr. was just 21-years old when he died. Now, decades later the father and son are finally together.

"It's real. It's real for us,” said Tonja Anderson-Dell.

Anderson and 51 other soldiers died in 1952 when their military cargo plane crashed into an Alaskan glacier during the Korean War.

The wreckage was shrouded in ice and mystery for decades but was finally discovered in 2012.

"All we were ever told is that my grandfather went missing in Alaska, hit a mountain, that was it. He was never found and he never returned home,” said Anderson-Dell.

Anderson-Dell fought relentlessly for years to bring her grandfather's remains home.

Deemed an "operational loss,” the U.S. military didn't.

"My grandfather and these 51 soldiers are what our government calls, 'Operational Loss,' meaning they were not going to war. So there's no agency in our government that looks for these type soldiers so it's become a mission for me,” she explained.

Remains of other soldiers in the wreckage were identified through the years, but not her grandfather.

"I was hoping he was going to be part of that first 17 but he was not. Then the next year came, we're now in 2013, not him. 2014, not him,” she said.

Then, in December of 2018 his remains were finally identified.

"It's been a long journey for me from when I wrote my first letter, to me finding out the plane was actually found in 2012, taking that trip to actually see where they found him,” said Anderson-Dell.

This family's journey ended on a hot tarmac at Tampa International Airport with military honors that were due decades ago.

"Thank you to all those families who are out there going through the same thing we're going through. Do not lose faith,” said Anderson-Dell.

Welcome home, Airman Isaac Anderson.

"It's closure and I guess I needed that,” said his son.

Your family finally has you back.