Airman laid to rest after 62 years MIA

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dustin Mullen
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Never leave an Airman behind. These words are a staple in the Air Force and echoed by men and women everyday through the Air Force Creed. Following this code, whether over the skies of Normandy, the Iraqi Desert or even a lost plane from more than 60 years ago, is a way of life.

On Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124 Globemaster, traveling from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, went down en route. There were 11 crewmen and 41 passengers on board. Among them was Capt. Robert Turnbull Sr., who was finally laid to rest July 19 with the help of members of team Tyndall.

"I was shocked when they notified me about finding him," said Sharon Sellers, Turnbull's granddaughter and next of kin. "We thought we would never see him. I am very thankful to the Air Force for all the effort they put in to get him home."

Search parties were unable to locate and recover any of the service members, due to adverse weather conditions at the time of the crash.

On June 9, 2012, an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew, while conducting a training mission, spotted the aircraft's wreckage emerging from the side of the Colony Glacier, which is about 50 miles east of Anchorage. Turnbull's remains, and those of 16 other service members, were recovered and brought home to their families.

"The Air Force values never leaving a man behind," said Chaplain Capt. Matthew Dussia, a chaplain with the 325th Fighter Wing. "We value honoring those who have passed and given their life for their country. The family was grateful for all those who helped bring him home."

Turnbull was laid to rest in Barnetts Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, Thomas County, Ga., next to his wife. Dussia was the presiding Chaplain who performed the funeral services.

Sellers hoped the rest of the families, who also lost loved ones that day, get to see their loved ones come home as well so they can feel the same relief.

"It was a relief to know has finally been laid to rest. It's been so many years." She said. "It was wonderful to see him honored."

Per Air Force Instruction 34-242, providing military funeral honors is the primary mission of the base honor guard program. The Air Force will ensure that, upon request, a funeral honors detail is provided for all eligible members.

Along with Dussia, many helping hands came from Tyndall, including the base Honor Guard, who performed full military honors.

"I felt truly honored and blessed to know myself and 20 others from the Tyndall Honor Guard were representing the Air Force for Capt. Turnbull's family," said Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn West.