VICTORIA, Minn. (KMSP) - It was an historic find when a World War II airplane was discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea.
Saturday, families from all over the country met in Minnesota, all because of that plane.
"It’s hard to explain,” said Jim Emmer. “I'm exhausted. I'm excited."
Emmer was born three years after his uncle went missing in World War II, but now he is learning more about what happened to John Emmer that fateful day.
"To see these people face to face and thank them for what they are doing and what they've done, it’s beyond words,” Emmer said.
Emmer’s uncle was a 26-year-old from Minneapolis who was one of 11 crew members on the “Heaven Can Wait,” which was shot down on a bombing mission in Papua New Guinea March 11, 1944.
Back in May, a team with Project Recover found the plane's wreckage in Hansa Bay.
Now they are in Minnesota sharing their findings with the families of the missing crew members from across the country.
"This is fuel for me to keep the mission going,” said Dr. Mark Moline, co-founder of Project Recover. “When I see the faces of the families it sort of reassures me I’m doing a good thing and gives me energy to work on the next case."
For Walt Graves, who was named after his uncle, a waist gunner on the B-24 bomber, it's a chance to share stories about a relative he never met with other families who've gone through a similar experience.
"I've thought about him all my of my life,” Walt Graves said. “After 70 years for me and 74 years for that plane to have it discovered at the bottom of the ocean is incredible. It’s very emotional for me."
Finally, after more than seven decades, the families of "Heaven Can Wait" won't have to wait any longer.
"There's some closure to it,” said Emmer. “A sense of togetherness and family through this. It’s a fun experience. I wish everyone could go through something like this to become spiritually attached to someone you never met. That's what happened with me."