FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — For nearly 60 years, the names of a pilot and three crewmembers who died when their plane crashed into an icy peak have been etched on a military gravestone.
During that time, however, most of their actual remains have rested on a lonely mountain.
On Friday, a coroner was examining fresh clues revealed earlier this week by a receding glacier in the Sierra Nevada. She hopes to identify the frozen body of the fair-haired World War II airman that climbers found intact and still wearing his parachute.
From the Los Angeles Times:
In Pittsburgh, 80-year-old Lois Shriver wakes up in the middle of the night asking herself a question she hasn't dared to broach in decades: "Oh my goodness! What if it's him? What if it's my brother? Could this really be happening?"
In Brainerd, Minn., 82-year-old Marjorie Freeman's night is pierced by much the same thought: What if the frozen remains they found on that mountainside out in California are those of the neighbor boy I knew so long ago, the boy whose mother would come over for coffee and even years later cry over her lost soldier?
In tiny Fayette, Ohio, folks are planning a funeral for the missing son of one of the town's first families — a ceremony that they know might never get held. "It would be quite a nice service of some kind," said lifelong resident Pauline Jones. "It would be a really big thing for our town."
It's impossible to tell how many people around the country are both disturbed and excited by the thought that the body discovered Oct. 16 in a Sierra Nevada mountain glacier near the site of a 63-year-old plane wreck might be that of someone close to them.
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The forensic work is being done by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. JPAC has world-class personnel and uses the best available science to perform its sensitive mission. Its facility in Hawaii is the largest forensic anthropology laboratory in the world.
You Can Help
There are over 35,000 Americans still missing but deemed recoverable from World War II. The Government is committed to bringing closure to their families as well as the families of missing servicemembers from other conflicts. DNA samples contributed by family members will aid in the identification process. If your family stories include the lore of a loved one who never returned from war, it may not be too late to help write the end of the story. See the JPAC website for information on how to contribute a DNA sample.