WASHINGTON - The serendipitous observation by an Alaska National Guard helicopter crew in 2012 led to the recovery of remains of 17 service members lost in a 1952 plane crash, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
On Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124 Globemaster crashed while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, with 11 crew members and 41 passengers on board. Adverse weather precluded immediate recovery attempts, officials said. In late November and early December 1952, they added, search parties were unable to locate and recover any of the service members.
On June 9, 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. 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.
Later that month, 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, officials said, and the crash site will continued to be monitored for possible future recovery.
The remains of the following service members have been recovered and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors:
Army Lt. Col. Lawrence S. Singleton; Army Pvts. James Green Jr. and Leonard A. Kittle; Marine Corps Maj. Earl J. Stearns; Navy Cmdr. Albert J. Seeboth; Air Force Cols. Noel E. Hoblit and Eugene Smith; Air Force Capt. Robert W. Turnbull; Air Force 1st Lts. Donald Sheda and William L. Turner; Air Force Tech. Sgt. Engolf W. Hagen; Air Force Staff Sgt. James H. Ray; Air Force Airman 1st Class Marion E. Hooton; Air Force Airmen 2nd Class Carroll R. Dyer, Thomas S. Lyons and Thomas C. Thigpen; and Air Force Airman 3rd Class Howard E. Martin.