EVANSVILLE (WKOW) -- Airman Second Class Edward Miller died in 1952 when the plane he was on crashed into Mt. Gannett in Alaska. Sixty-nine years later, the Evansville native finally returned home.
Miller's body was flown to Milwaukee, and a procession moved him through southeast Wisconsin into his hometown. On Main Street, crowds gathered under a large American flag suspended between two ladder trucks.
Katrina Maldonado was in that crowd, and the U.S. Army veteran said watching the homecoming was an emotional experience.
"There's always that bond between veterans. Always," she said. "Even though I don't know what his experience was, and it was a long time ago, there are a lot of things that are similar, regardless of when we served or how we served or what branch we served in. So, I guess I do feel some connection."
She said she was glad to see a lot of people show up to welcome Miller back.
"Having him be escorted with a lot of fanfare is just incredible," she said. "I think it would mean a lot to the family."
Eric McDaniel was also lining the route.
He said he didn't originally know about the procession. However, when he saw the flags going up, he said he knew he needed to stay.
"[I wanted to] give a little respect to an airman that is coming home tonight after 70 years," he said. "It's the least respect we can give to them, the family, and the community as a whole."
Maldonado said while every service member sacrifices something, seeing Miller's return after so long reminded her of just how big the sacrifice is for some.
"You look at that flag, and I just think freedom isn't free," she said. "This is where it really hits home for me."
Miller will be buried with full military honors at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Maple Hill Cemetery in a public service.
Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the U.S. and Wisconsin flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Saturday in honor of Miller.