Identified! CA - Body Found in Glacier Thought to Be WWII Airman - Leo Mustonen

Discussion in 'Identified!' started by Richard, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Body Found in Glacier Thought to Be WWII Airman
    By JULIANA BARBASSA, AP

    FRESNO, Calif. (Oct. 19) - Two climbers on a Sierra Nevada glacier discovered an ice-encased body believed to be that of an airman whose plane crashed in 1942.The man was wearing a World War II-era Army-issued parachute when his frozen head, shoulder and arm were spotted Sunday on 13,710-foot Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park, park spokeswoman Alex Picavet said.Park rangers and specialists camped on the remote mountainside in freezing weather for an excavation expected to take several days.

    The body was 80 percent encased in ice, Picavet said Wednesday."We're not going to go fast," she said. "We want to preserve him as much as possible. He's pretty intact."The excavation crew included an expert from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a military unit that identifies and recovers personnel who have been missing for decades.

    Park officials believe the serviceman may have been part of the crew of an AT-7 navigational training plane that crashed on Nov. 18, 1942. The wreckage and four bodies were found in 1947 by a climber.

    Some 88,000 Americans are missing in action from past wars, military officers said. Most of them - 78,000 - are from World War II.The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command works on hundreds of cases a year, averaging two identifications a week, said spokeswoman Rumi Nielson-Green.

    Finding bodies preserved in a glacier is unusual but not unheard of, command officials said. Two years ago, the unit recovered the body of a Cold War-era officer who died in Greenland. 10-19-05

    Link:
    http://articles.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20051019162609990001&ncid=NWS00010000000001
     
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  3. Buzz Mills

    Buzz Mills New Member

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    I saw that on the news. Great that his family will now know exactly what happened to him, and even be able to give him a proper burial. I wonder if he was married with children??
     
  4. Casshew

    Casshew Former Member

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    That is a lot of people, so very sad. everyone deserves a proper burial and each family deserves answers.
     
  5. upallnite

    upallnite Former Member

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    On CNN headline news just now, they said an 80 year old Pitsburgh woman is claiming that this must be her brother, Ernest Munn (Munde, Mund). Sorry about the mis-spelling but they didn't show how it was spelled on CNN.
     
  6. Pandora

    Pandora New Member

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    http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/13742186p-14584033c.html

    Snip:
    "Dr. Robert Johnson, chief of the archives branch at the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, housed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, said a 1942 accident report said the Army Air Force AT-7 took off from Mather Field at 8:30 a.m. Nov., 18, 1942. Pilot William A. Gamber, 23, of Payette, Ohio, and three training cadets were aboard, Johnson said. The plane, with five hours worth of fuel, was supposed to fly north to Corning and return, Johnson said.

    "Cadets were John Mortenson, 25, from Moscow, Idaho, Ernest Munn, 23, from St. Clairesville, Ohio, and Leo Mustonen, 22, from Brainerd, Minn."
     
  7. Floh

    Floh Former Member

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    I'm glad he is able to come home at long last. :(
     
  8. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be a slight discrepancy in these stories. One states that four persons were on board the AT-7, another states that four bodies were previously recovered, yet here is a body which they think came from the same plane? I suspect that besides the pilot and three cadets, there may have been a Navigator instructor on board, as would have been normal practice. Or that only three bodies were previously recovered?
     
  9. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    May just be a discrepancy in the reporting in the intervening years, or could be that someone jumped aboard this training flight just to get their flight hours for the month. If you are familiar with Flight 19, the famous 1945 flight which went missing in the area referred to as the Bermuda Triangle, a similar situation caused discussion for several years. Fliers would add themselves to training flights or, conversely, delete themselves from training flights, depending upon how much of their mandatory flight time they had conducted for the month. The record keeping from these training flights is not what one might expect from the military.
     
  10. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    It is likely that this man's body has been sent to Hawaii for identification by the Army's Joint Casualty Resolution team (or whatever their current title is). The fact that there seems to be a suspected link to the missing Navigation Training flight - both from California authorities, and from a woman claiming to be his sister will help immensely in the identification process.

    Does anyone have any news articles or information regarding the earlier recovery efforts which took place to gather and identify the remains of the other crewmembers?
     
  11. audrey77

    audrey77 CJ Analyst

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    This article has some background.

     
  12. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    This case will be featured on Anderson Cooper 360, tonight at 10:00pm (east coast time), CNN.
     
  13. Floh

    Floh Former Member

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    Notsomething i'll be able to access and i would be grateful to anyone who watches who could give a summary of what was said. :)
     
  14. Buzz Mills

    Buzz Mills New Member

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    On the news, they didn't name the airman, but they did show one of his dog tags, being X-rayed to try and pick up the characters on the dog tag. The three letters I picked up were BUZ. I looked at the names of the missing airmen, Leo M. Mustonen, was the only one I saw with a somewhat odd first name; when your first name is unusual, you usually end up with a nickname. Wondering if BUZZ could have been on his dog tags. If so, the mssing airman is him.

    Four men were aboard: 2nd Lt. William A. Gamber, 23, of Fayette, Ohio; Cadet John M. Mortenson, 25, of Moscow, Idaho; Cadet Ernest G. Munn, 23, of Pleasant Grove, Ohio; and Cadet Leo M. Mustonen, 22, of Brainerd, Minn. The lab has requested the dental records of all four men but has yet to receive them. Those records should be key evidence because the teeth with the remains, which were found encased in ice, had a lot of dental work done
     
  15. Buzz Mills

    Buzz Mills New Member

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    By using a special light source, Paul Emanovsky, a forensic anthropologist at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command's identification lab at Hickam Air Force Base, was able to read enough letters on a corroded name tag found with the remains last month, said Army Maj. Rumi Nielson-Green.

    "He was successful in recovering several letters of a name, and it corresponds with the name of one of the four individuals on the aircraft," she said.
     
  16. Buzz Mills

    Buzz Mills New Member

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    Families hope 63-year mystery finally solved
    Frozen body of WWII airman -- which of 4 missing fliers is he?
    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    As World War II loomed, William Gamber was growing up in Fayette, Ohio, the tall, dark, athletic son of the town barber. On the other end of the state, blond, blue-eyed Ernest Munn was living on a small farm with hay fields, pigs and a horse, the big brother of three sisters.

    Meanwhile, slender, fastidious Leo Mustonen was being raised by Finnish immigrant parents in Brainerd, Minn., and John Mortenson was a young man in Moscow, Idaho.

    The fate of the four men merged on Nov. 18, 1942. At 8:30 a.m., Gamber, a pilot, and the three others, aspiring Army Air Corps fliers, boarded an AT-7 plane at Mather Field in Sacramento and headed north to Corning on a routine training mission. They were never heard from again.

    Barbara Adams of San Carlos has high hopes that the remains are those of William A. Gamber, her first cousin. She was heartened by reports that the serviceman who was recovered had had extensive dental work done, which would be consistent with her cousin.

    http://tinyurl.com/dytth
     
  17. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    The military has a set of procedures for identifying remains which has evolved over the years, but which is quite thorough. Although the TV special may have made much of the ID tag, it is actually NOT the defining piece of evidence in identifying remains.

    Comparing teeth with dental records is still one of the main ways of identifying service men and women, especially those who died long before the discovery of DNA. Other forensics such as blood typing, determining general physical characteristics, previously broken bones, etc are also used.

    It is standard procedure for the military to NOT release the name of a person before positive identification has been made and next of kin are located and notified. Locating next of kin of a WW II airman can be difficult after 60 plus years.
     
  18. PrayersForMaura

    PrayersForMaura Help Find Maura Murray

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    Lab Works to Unravel Puzzle of Soldier's ID

    The remains of a WWII airman found in the Sierra Nevada last month are being painstakingly examined at base in Hawaii.

    HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii — Last month, yet another flag-draped metal box was ceremoniously borne through the back doors of the Central Identification Laboratory by four solemn soldiers.

    Since then, scientists have given the new arrival their customary attention — a kind of intense scrutiny seldom given to the living.

    They have weighed and measured and X-rayed the mummified remains of the man who was found Oct. 16 in a glacier in the Sierra Nevada.

    If he was one of four young airmen whose World War II training plane crashed nearby, he would have been encased in ice for nearly 63 years.

    At the lab, near Pearl Harbor, investigators have combed through every fiber of his tattered green pants, green underwear and green cable-knit sweater, looking for a name, for laundry marks, for sizes that would indicate height and weight.

    They have puzzled over high-tech ways to make out a severely corroded metal name tag that was still pinned over his heart, figuring it might have belonged to one of the men on the ill-fated 1942 flight.

    They have conferred with a rare-manuscript expert at the University of Hawaii, who plans to freeze-dry the man's tiny red address book and tease open congealed pages that may be blank — or may yield a wealth of clues to the man's identity.

    "We go through thousands of items," said Robert Mann, deputy director of the lab, who is charged with identifying the remains of all American troops missing in action. "We take buttons and boots and grommets and lighters, and watches that stopped at the moment of impact. It all matters."

    The well-preserved remains from California's Mt. Mendel are just another entry on the lab's long list of active cases.

    The oldest is a soldier from the War of 1812. There also are two Civil War sailors found three years ago in the wreckage of the naval warship Monitor; one of them, scientists theorize, was a pipe smoker in his 40s who was accustomed to heavy labor.

    They are brought here from around the world, sometimes bone by bone.

    The pilot who couldn't make it over the Himalayas in World War II is flown from Tibet. The GI who disappeared in a blood-soaked German forest, the fighter jock who plunged into a Vietnamese rice paddy, the prisoners excavated from a mass grave in Korea — America's lost who now are found wind up here.

    Some are discovered by local residents tilling a field or clearing a forest. Others are found by teams from the lab and its parent agency, the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command.

    Each year, at least five expeditions are mounted to old battlegrounds and suspected crash sites, from Poland to Palau. Anthropologists, linguists and explosives experts travel to remote areas, interviewing locals and scouring the countryside for traces of missing American troops.

    The fragments they find end up back at the lab.

    In a large white room, scientists pore over 21 tables neatly arrayed with browning bones, patches of skull, shards of jaw -- all laid out head to toe, known only by the numbers they have been assigned.

    When they are carried in, all are unknown soldiers. If they leave — and some 1,100 unknowns are still shelved in boxes within the lab's vault — they are returned to their families and, often, buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Most other countries do not have similar operations, according to command officials. The agency operates on a budget of about $46 million annually. And about 100 service members are identified each year.

    "It's a promise made to every person in uniform: We leave no comrades behind," said Maj. Rumi Nielson-Green, a spokeswoman for the lab. "I don't know why it's uniquely American. Maybe it's because we're a relatively new country and don't have many centuries of foreign battles behind us. But, to me, it makes absolute sense."

    The U.S. effort has not always enjoyed either success or support. At a congressional hearing in 1986, top forensic anthropologists blasted the lab for slipshod methods, contending that there was no scientific basis for identifying 13 airmen missing in Laos from bone chips no bigger than a quarter.



    more ... 2 page story: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-iceman14nov14,1,287444.story?page=2&coll=la-headlines-california
     
  19. Buzz Mills

    Buzz Mills New Member

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    They are really stretching this out. They already identified the remains by reading what they could of the dog tags, which matched up with one of the airmen. Then they said they wanted to match up dental records. They should have had the DNA completed eons ago. I think they are attempting to get as much publicity mileage out of this, as they can. They have so little opportunity at positive PR, that they are all trying to build careers from this. Enough already--release the identity.
     
  20. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Actually, they are just very slow and methodical in their procedures and methods. They also have a lot of other cases to work on. If a set of remains comes in from a more recent war, they may take precedence over older wars for identification.

    The story does not say that they read the name off the man's dog tags, but rather from a corroded name tag which had been pinned to his shirt. Those name tags were usually rectangular in shape and somewhat like a campaign button or "school spirit" badge. Dog tags were made of stainless steel and if he had been wearing his, they would likely have appeared almost like new. A name taken from a dog tag, badge, or clothing is not the ultimate source of a positive identification, however. It is only one piece of evidence leading toward that final determination.

    Once a final determination by these experts has been arrived at, the next of kin has to be identified, located, and properly contacted. A representative of the dead man's branch of service will then present the findings and determinations to the next of kin for further directions as to how and where to bury the remains. Only after all that takes place will his identity be released to the public.
     
  21. audrey77

    audrey77 CJ Analyst

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