ARLINGTON, Minnesota — Air Force Airman Verne Budahn died in a cargo plane crash while transferring between Air Force bases in 1952 at the age of 19.

For decades, his family in Arlington, Minnesota didn't think they'd ever find him.

Budahn was among 52 people killed when the plane veered off course and crashed into Alaska's Mt Gannett.

At the time, harsh weather delayed the search and the plane became stuck in the ice of a glacier, making rescue efforts impossible.

A breakthrough didn’t come until 2012, when a National Guard Helicopter spotted parts of the plane peeking out from a melting glacier. 

Every year since, mountaineering teams have returned to the site in June and painstakingly worked to identify remains during the narrow, one month window of warm weather. 

This year, Budahn was identified as the 42nd of 52 people on board.

On Friday, the Budahn family was there to see him finally land safely back home in Minnesota, 66 years late.

"It's awesome, it's emotional,” said Joan Budahn, Vurne Budahn’s Sister-In-Law. “One more step and he'll be home. There's no words to describe it."

The Budahn family accompanied Verne’s remains back to Arlington, MN on Thursday afternoon. He'll be buried at a special funeral service scheduled for 2pm on Saturday at Arlington Public Cemetery.