Body Of Kansas Soldier Who Died In 1952 Gets Proper Burial - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

News

Body Of Kansas Soldier Who Died In 1952 Gets Proper Burial

Posted: Updated:
The body of a man lost in a military flight that crashed more than six decades ago is finally home. The body of a man lost in a military flight that crashed more than six decades ago is finally home.
It was full military honors for a soldier missing in action. It was full military honors for a soldier missing in action.
It took years to give them peace and provide Kittle a dignified burial, but to family, it's never too late. It took years to give them peace and provide Kittle a dignified burial, but to family, it's never too late.
CANEY, Kansas -

The body of a man lost in a military flight that crashed more than six decades ago is finally home.

His funeral, held on Saturday, brought closure to his Kansas family.

U.S. Army Private Leonard Kittle was one of 53 military personnel on board a C-124 Globemaster aircraft which crashed in a remote area of Alaska on November 22, 1952. The plane was en route from the state of Washington to Elmendorf Air Force base in Anchorage, Alaska.

The military says adverse weather conditions halted immediate recovery efforts. When the weather eventually cleared, rescue crews were unable to locate the plane or the crash site.

On June 9, 2012, the crew of an Alaska National Guard helicopter on routine training spotted the wreckage on a glacier near Mount Gannett east of Anchorage. Kittle's remains were recovered shortly thereafter.

His body was flown to Tulsa International Airport on Friday and then continued the trip to Caney, Kansas.

6/19/2014 Related Story: Military Funeral Set For SE Kansas Soldier Killed In 1952 Crash

Saturday's homecoming in Caney drew hundreds who wanted to pay final respects.

It was full military honors for a soldier missing in action.

"It's just been wonderful... I really can't put it in words," daughter Linda Erickson said.

Erickson didn't think she would ever see her father again.

She only was a month old when Kittle was drafted into the Army.

He died with 51 others on that transport flight over Alaska when their plane crashed into a mountain.

Kittle's loved ones almost gave up hope for finding him until now.

"We just never thought this would happen," widow Sandra Kozak said. "We were told there was nothing, 'go on.' And now to think that they found some personal items and some remains like Linda said you can't say, 'Oh, not he's here,' because you'd be let down again. So we just went on …when the call came in that he was identified.... his remains, it was shock."

"I never got my hopes up because 17 out of 52 isn't good enough odds for me to...but when they called us and said my dad was one of them I think my words were, 'Oh my God," Erickson said.

For more than 60 years, Kittle's grave site remained empty at Sunny Side Cemetery.

Now, the soldier has a final resting place and a proper burial.

"Just never give up," Kittle's sister Beatrice Crawford said. "Always feel positive that you will be able to bring him home and put him to peace... right now I feel more peaceful than I've been since we first heard about it."

Kittle's former bride was overwhelmed by the day.

"Today has been wonderful," Kozak said. "I couldn't imagine it would be this... to bring him home. I'm glad it is. It's wonderful."

It took years to give them peace and provide Kittle a dignified burial, but to family, it's never too late.

"But it's not something that has been forgotten," Erickson said. "Even all those years, I thought I kind of would, and now he's home next to my grandma."

Special Features

Community Calendar

Find out what's going on around town and submit events!

Share

See it! Shoot it! Send it! Share your weather pics and videos with NewsOn6.com!

iPhone App

Get breaking news, weather, sports & video directly on your iPhone.

Mobile Alerts

Get breaking news, headlines, weather alerts & more on your cell phone.

TV Schedule

Need to know what's on TV? Check out our television schedule.

Live Radar

WARN Interactive

Special Coverage

  • Bridge Tracker

    How safe are Oklahoma's bridges? Use Bridge Tracker to find out now.

  • Cold Case

    Join Lori and local homicide detectives as they search for Cold Case clues.

  • Crime Tracker

    Find out what crimes are committed in your area with Crime Tracker.

  • Fallen Heroes

    News On 6 honors our fallen Oklahoma heroes. View our interactive timeline.

  • Murrah Bombing Timeline

    Learn more about the events leading up to and following the bombing.

  • Storm Zone

    Watch tornadoes tear across Oklahoma and learn how to stay safe!

  • Turnpike Timelines

    View a historical road map of Oklahoma's turnpike system.

Powered by WorldNow
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
TULSA'S OWN TM
GREEN COUNTRY'S OWN TM
Oklahoma's Own Newson6.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state including Tulsa's Own and Green Country's Own.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014, WorldNow and KOTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.