POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – A plane carrying more than 50 members of the military crashed in Alaska in 1952. But it wasn’t until two years ago that the wreckage was found.
Donald Ray of Poland is the brother of one of the victims and next weekend he’ll finally get the chance to say a proper goodbye. His brother had been presumed dead for more than 60 years.
Staff Sergeant James Ray was aboard a C-124 transport plane heading to the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska when it hit a glacier in bad weather in November 1952. Donald Ray was 14 at the time his family received a telegraph from the military telling them his brother was on that plane when it crashed.
“His wife was pregnant so he was going live off base and he was traveling up there to find an apartment or some place to live when it crashed,” said Ray.
It wasn’t until two years ago that the Army National Guard found what appeared to be aircraft wreckage while flying a training mission over the site.
“At the time, I didn’t think they would find anything, at least not my brother anyway. You know, maybe pieces of the plane, something like that, but I didn’t think they would ever find any remains of him,” said Ray.
Ray was contacted by the Army asking for a DNA sample to see if they could identify his brother and he complied. To his surprise, it was a match.
“It is mixed emotions. It was a surprise that they found remains of him, you know?” Ray said. “I am thankful they are bringing him back right.”
James’ remains are set to arrive in Pittsburgh Thursday. A funeral will be conducted in his hometown of Worthington, Pennsylvania.