Son battles for father, buried at top secret Area 51

US military plans to buy land on which cemetery stands

A Battle for Area 51, But Not the Kind You'd Expect

For decades the public has tried to find out what's buried at Area 51, the military facility that housed America's top Cold War secrets.

For Joe Sheahan, his father is buried there. On a plot of land three miles from where the U-2 spy plane was perfected, according to CIA documents declassified in 2013.

This week, Sheahan visited his father's grave site for what he thinks will be the last time, now that the US Air Force wants to buy the land.

The Sheahan family, which has owned the land in southern Nevada since the 1880s, doesn't like the government's price: $5.2 million (£3.4m) for 400 acres of land and mining rights.

A September 10 deadline to accept the offer has passed with no agreement, and Joe Sheahan is digging in for a legal fight.

"If I come out with nothing, so be it," he told CNN. "I'm not going to lay down and say it's OK."

'We're tired of running'

The Air Force wants the land because, after decades of escorting family members into the highly restricted space, it can no longer ensure the family's safety during the 'near-24/7 operation' at the base, officially known as 'The Nevada Test and Training Range.'

That's ironic, say the Sheahans, who claim the most danger they've faced was from the military itself, intimidating the family since the Air Force began taking over land here in the 1940s - today it controls 2.9 million acres.

"I didn't create this mess, they did," Sheahan said. "They surrounded us. We're tired of running, tired of hiding."

Area 51 Location Revealed In Government Document