Missing airman’s body found in C&D Canal

DELAWARE CITY — A body found among rocks in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal early Thursday afternoon was positively identified as the remains of missing Senior Airman Keifer Huhman, police said.

The 21-year-old was reported missing after last being seen leaving his Dover home in a truck between 6 and 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 7. The unoccupied truck was located at approximately 10 p.m. that night on the shoulder of the William V. Roth Jr. Bridge that spans the C&D Canal.

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Senior Airman Keifer Huhman

On Friday, Senior Airman Huhman’s mother Darlene Norman described the discovery as “an absolute blessing.

“The first thing that came to my mind was ‘Thank you, Jesus Christ, for locating my boy so I can properly mourn, properly grieve and start healing.’ ”

On a Facebook page dedicated to Senior Airman Huhman’s disappearance, his father Kenneth said Keifer will be taken to Pensacola, Florida, to be buried at Barrancas National Cemetery.

“Thank you everyone for your support,” the post read. “I will be offline for a little while. Thank you everyone in (Delaware) who kept looking. Thank you for bringing my son home.”

Ms. Norman, who works at an elementary school in North Carolina, said she will travel to Pensacola and await her son’s arrival via airplane.

“When that airplane lands they’re not going to be able to stop me on the tarmac,” she said. “I will have my son back. I want that box, I want to be near my son again. I can’t wait for that moment.”

Before the discovery, Ms. Norman was planning on making as many trips to Delaware as needed to continue the search for her son and she “would not stop looking for Keifer until (he) was found.”

Ms. Norman said the outpouring of support since her son was reported missing has been “wonderful” with “people coming out of the woodworks.” She reported contacts from military and civilian sources, and from “England, Japan, Guam, Hawaii” to name a few.

“There’s been an outpouring of support, prayers, love,” she said. “People are wonderful human beings that in this crazy world we live in they will take time to express (concern, sympathy and interest) in what our family is going through.”

Also on Friday, Kenneth Huhman, who is stationed in Japan as an Air Force chief master sergeant, described his son’s location as a two-part response.

“There’s a little comfort that we found him and a sense of closure can begin,” he said.

“Obviously when you haven’t found him, though, there’s just a little hope that you’ll find him in a different condition.”

Describing the public support as “phenomenal” Chief Master Sgt. Huhman said the attention and care shown “gave the family strength” during the most difficult of times.

A search commenced

A search for Senior Airman Huhman commenced after he was determined missing last month, and Dover Air Force Base Col. Michael W. Grismer, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing, pronounced the missing airman to be considered dead in a statement on March 9. A memorial service was held two days later at the base.

According to the Dover Police Department, a fisherman located a body, later identified as Senior Airman Huhman’s, among rocks in the C&D Canal at low tide between noon and 12:30 p.m.

The body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner where it was positively identified, police said.

In a statement, Dover Air Force Base confirmed Senior Airman Huhman’s remains were recovered by the Delaware State Police and Delaware City Fire Department from the C&D Canal, three miles east of the William V. Roth Bridge.

Senior Airman Huhman was assigned to the 436th Communications Squadron at DAFB.

“The facts surrounding this incident remain under investigation and no additional information will be released at this time,” according to the DAFB news release.

Police said officials were notified of a body that was found by a fisherman in the canal along Dutch Neck Road. The body was turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (Medical Examiner), police said in a news release, who later identified the body as Senior Airman Huhman’s.

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