Sixty six years after his death, a World War II army staff sergeant is finally returning home.

SSGT Zoltan Dobovich died on board a B-17G Flying Fortress when it crashed into the French Alps on November 1, 1946, NBC News reports. Dobovich, an Allentown, Pa., native, was 21 years old at the time.

In total, eight men were killed during the bomber’s journey from Naples, Italy, to Bovingdon, England. After the accident, several unsuccessful efforts tried, and failed, to confirm their identities.

In 1947, a small number of recovered remains were buried in a single grave at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to NBC Philadelphia. Three decades later, Italian military authorities combed the difficult-to-access site on Estellette Glacier a few more times, uncovering more remains.

They still went unidentified, however, until advances in DNA testing allowed for a match, the Burlington County Times reports. One of the men in the crash was found to be Dobovich, a radio operator who enlisted in the Army two years after Pearl Harbor.

With an honor escort, Dobovich’s remains will be flown from a Hawaii Air Force base to the Philadelphia area, where the community anticipates a Christmas Eve arrival, the Times reported. A funeral service, which will be handled by Perinchief Chapels, will be held Thursday.

Matt Gaskill, a funeral director at Perinchief Chapels, told Phillyburbs.com that the Italian and U.S. governments worked together to identify the remains.

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  • In an attempt to make a memorable entrance, a sailor -- who's been away from home for more than eight months -- decided to sneak into a family picture at his grandma's 76th birthday celebration, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/sailor-surprises-grandmother-birthday-celebration-video_n_1383183.html" target="_hplink">The Huffington Post reports. </a> Wrapping her arms around him, the sailor's grandmother yelled in excitement at the sight of her grandson.

  • Last October, Staff Sergeant Chris Reed -- armed with a trays full of fast food -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/28/soldier-surprises-wife-chick-fil-a_n_1064431.html" target="_hplink">surprised his wife,</a> Amy, at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Eustis, Fla. "It started off with her just screaming and her shedding tears. Then everyone started shedding tears. There wasn't a dry eye in the place," Chick-fil-A's Kevin O'Leary<a href="http://www.wesh.com/r/29594797/detail.html#ixzz1c6woi2k8" target="_hplink"> told WESH.com.</a>

  • After being deployed in Kuwait and Iraq for a year, Specialist Matthew Peters from Owensville, Mo., popped into the cafeteria of Washington West Elementary School to give his son, Blake, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/22/military-surprise-homecom_n_974780.html" target="_hplink">a long overdue hug. </a> Peters had told Blake, who dissolved into tears at the sight of his father, that he'd be home 10 days later than when he actually showed up.

  • On an episode of <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEDV8nu3tf8" target="_hplink">TLC's "Surprise Homecoming",</a> Sgt. Lawrence Lee sings his way back into the hearts of his two children.

  • In March, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/military-father-surprises-daughter-on-stage_n_1389434.html" target="_hplink">The Huffington Post</a> reported that father-of-three MSG Joseph Devine (U.S. Army) returned from Afghanistan after spending a year in Afghanistan. Devine decided to surprise his 18-year-old daughter on stage at her high school after she delivered a speech as captain of her speech team. "She is daddy's only little girl, always will be, and boy did it show," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/military-father-surprises-daughter-on-stage_n_1389434.html" target="_hplink">said Devine's wife, Kathryn.</a>

  • Last December, Capt. Dawn McCracken-Bruce reunited with her young sons just in time for Christmas, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/iraq-war-mom-surprises-sons-mall-15225161" target="_hplink">ABC News reports.</a> The soldier mom surprised her two children at the mall.

  • A soldier home from Kuwait <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/a-soldier-home-from-kuwai_n_1498126.html" target="_hplink">paid an unexpected visit to</a> his father-in-law. The soldier's wife, Cari S., captured the tender moment on camera "My big, tough Daddy turns into a big ole' softy when it comes to his kids, and he is so proud of his son-in-law. As you can see, he is on a business call and walks right by my husband when he comes in. I love his reaction," she wrote <a href="http://welcomehomeblog.com/2012/05/02/u-s-soldier-home-from-kuwait-surprises-father-in-law/#disqus_thread" target="_hplink">in the video's description</a> on the Welcome Home Blog.

  • A U.S. Army couple serving in a parachute-jumping unit in Afghanistan returned home to the delight and tears of their two young children, <a href="http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/news/local/fox_cities/Army-couple-surprises-children-at-Outagamie-County-Regional-Airport?hpt=us_bn9" target="_hplink">Fox 11 News reports. </a> When asked what she wants to do with her parents, Travis and Isela Ulman, during their two weeks at home, 11-year-old Tashia said that she has big plans. "Hug them over and over and then I want to show them my room and I want to bring them to school," she said.

  • In this viral video, watch as a soldier is reunited with his beloved pooch, Emmit. The huge Great Dane, aptly nicknamed "Thunderpaws", is seen giving Trevor Chowder, who had just returned from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, a long and loving hug, <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/upshot/soldier-dog-reunion-video-hit-210952704.html" target="_hplink">Yahoo! News reports.</a>

  • There are many videos of servicemen and women surprising their families, but it's a special treat when we see the tables turned. Here is a heartwarming new video from the <a href="http://welcomehomeblog.com/2012/05/14/u-s-marine-gets-surprised-by-his-8-year-old-little-sister/" target="_hplink">Welcome Home Blog</a> which shows a Marine getting a big surprise from his little sister. "My son-in-law took my 8-year-old daughter with him to deliver my son's motorcycle to him in AZ. Our Marine did not know that his little sister was coming. This video is of when he found out," wrote the Marine's mom, Barbara W., <a href="http://welcomehomeblog.com/2012/05/14/u-s-marine-gets-surprised-by-his-8-year-old-little-sister/" target="_hplink">in the video description.</a>

  • A 6-year-old boy with cerebral palsy gave his soldier dad a very special homecoming when he walked into his father's open arms, <a href="http://www.rightthisminute.com/video/Marine-RTM-son-walks-first-time-Jeremy-Michael-Cooney" target="_hplink">RightThisMinute.com reports.</a> Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Cooney, 31, had been told that his son would never be able to walk. However, during the seven months that Cooney was away, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/jeremy-cooney-us-marine-son-cerebral-palsy_n_1507423.html" target="_hplink">his son learned to walk on his own.</a> Cooney's wife Melissa kept her son's progress a secret for the duration of her husband's deployment so that when he finally returned home, he would be welcomed with the gift of a lifetime.