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Pentagon solves six-decade mystery of Alaska plane crash that killed over 50

The victims families received the first official confirmation of their loved one's deaths since the 1952 tragedy.
By Matt Bradwell   |   June 18, 2014 at 7:14 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- The Pentagon confirmed today it has recovered the remains of 17 service members who were among the 52 killed in a 1952 aircraft accident in Alaska.

On Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124 Globemaster headed for Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska crashed, killing the plane's 11 crew members and 41 passengers. Harsh weather conditions prevented officials from conducting an immediate search and subsequent efforts turned up no results. The crash remained a mystery until recruits on 2012 National Guard training mission accidentally found the wreckage.

Nearly 60 years later in June 2012, "an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris during a training mission over the Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett," the Pentagon said in a statement today. "Three days later, another Alaska Guard team landed at the site to photograph the area and found artifacts at the site that related to the wreckage of the C-124 Globemaster."

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Joint Task Force team conducted a recovery operation at the site and recommended that it continue to be monitored for possible future recovery operations. In 2013, additional artifacts were visible, and JPAC conducted further recovery operations. Defense Department scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic tools and circumstantial evidence in the identification of 17 service members. The remaining personnel have yet to be recovered...and the crash site will continued to be monitored for possible future recovery.

In addition to lack of remains, family members never received confirmation of their relatives deaths. For many, the recovery represents long-overdue closer.

"That's the way we're looking at it," Brian Gorman of Wilmington, De. told the Wilmington News Journal. Gorman's uncle Col. Gene Smith was one of the people killed in the 1952 crash.

"Gene's coming home"
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