Donald Jurewicz, Joint Task Force-Alaska deputy director for operations, explains details of the C-124 crash site to Tonja Anderson-Dell during her September 2012 visit to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. (Master Sgt. Mikal Canfield / Air Force)
Almost 50 years after her husband’s death in a military transport plane crash in the mountains of Alaska, Dorothy Anderson was finally ready to accept his flag.
The C-124 Globemaster disappeared under an avalanche of rock and snow after flying into a mountain during a winter storm on Nov. 22, 1952. During the numb months that followed, Anderson never gave up hope that her 22-year-old husband survived the accident — even though there was no tangible evidence otherwise. None of the bodies of the 52 service members on board were recovered.
For decades, the plane and the men it carried seemed all but forgotten by everyone except by those whose lives, like Airman Basic Isaac Anderson’s widow, had been irrevocably changed by the tragedy in the midst of the Korean War.
When Dorothy Anderson’s grown granddaughter asked in late 1999 if she might try to obtain her grandfather’s ceremonial burial flag, the aging widow, who never remarried, said yes.
Tonja Anderson-Dell had grown up hearing only fragments of her grandfather’s story. For years, her grandmother had shut down when Tonja asked about him. Tonja’s own father, Isaac Jr., was just 1½ years old when he lost his airman dad.
To read more: Uncovering the losses in a 1952 C-124 crash