Military officials said the wreckage of a military plane discovered on an Alaska glacier is that of an Air Force plane that crashed in 1952, killing all 52 people on board. It has finally put an end to a decades-long mystery.

Army Capt. Jamie Dobson stated that evidence collected at the crash site is consistent with the missing C-124A Globemaster, but the military is not ruling out alternative possibilities because more investigation is needed.

“We’re still at the very beginning of this investigation,” she said. “This is very close to the starting line, not the finish line.”

Dobson estimates that processing DNA samples from relatives of those on board the plane might take up to six years.

The wreckage and possible bones were discovered on Colony Glacier, roughly 40 miles east of Anchorage, by the Alaska National Guard on June 10. The wreckage was discovered soon after the heavy transport plane with 41 passengers and 11 crew members vanished on Nov. 22, 1952. But it was buried in snow and possibly churned beneath the surface of the glacier for decades, according to Dobson.

Indeed, it was known that the aircraft’s fuel reserve had caught fire, resulting in a potentially fatal explosion. An avalanche buried the wreckage under many yards of snow as a result of the explosion. According to the Associated Press, Terris Moore, the president of the University of Alaska, is a civil air patrol member. He told reporters that the plane “obviously was flying at full speed” when it crashed into Mount Gannett, tumbling down the snow-covered cliffs and exploding with debris strewn over two or three acres.

A secret mission involving 52 military members was derailed in the sky. It happened when the C-124 Globemaster II, piloted by 19-year-old William Edmond Mize, Jr, crashed into the mountainside.

Tonja Anderson, whose grandfather Isaac Anderson was among those onboard the tragic flight, claimed a 12-member military team tried three times to go to the accident site but was prevented by bad weather each time.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Anderson expressed her surprise at the positive identification, “If they can bring me one bone of my grandfather or his dog tag, that would be closure for me.” It’s something she’s been trying to get from the military for a long time but was told that collecting the remains from the plane’s grave is impossible and too costly.

A member of the Fairbanks Civil Air Patrol and a 10th Air Rescue Squadron member, landed on a glacier in the area days after the Globemaster went down and conclusively recognized the wreckage as the Globemaster.

The team found materials from the debris, including a life-support system and possible bones from the glacier. The evidence was being transported to the command’s Hawaii lab for examination.