More remains of military men killed in a 1952 plane crash in Alaska have been identified since as early as March, but those identifications have not been released due to changes in which agency was responsible for the effort. That’s according to a story in the Alaska Dispatch News.
The Dispatch News received an e-mail from a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), saying that identifications made of remains recovered from the crash site in June of 2014 were ready, but had not been released because it was now up to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner to handle the identifications.
Two of the men killed in that crash were from Missouri. To date, no remains whose identities have been made public belonged to those men.
In 2014 the remains of 17 men from that plane that had been recovered in 2013 and identified were returned to families for burial.
In the e-mail, Lt. Col. Holly Slaughter told the Dispatch News, “The remains recovered in 2014 were sampled for DNA in July, 2014, immediately after their arrival in our lab in Hawaii.” The e-mail continues, “DNA results began to arrive back to our lab during the fall of 2014. By March 2015, final reports of new identifications were available, but due to the jurisdictional change, the identifications of the remains were deferred for the Armed Forces medical examiner to make.”
The Medical Examiner told the Dispatch News it is, “in the process of cataloging, matching remains to DNA reports, and determining if further testing is required.”
Delays in getting information from the military have been frustrating the families of those who were killed in that crash. Tonja Anderson-Dell’s grandfather, Airman Isaac W. Anderson Sr., was one of those men.
Anderson-Dell, who has led the effort to see those men found and laid to rest, told Missourinet earlier this month some family members have died not knowing if their loved one had been found.
“Since the plane has been found in 2012 we have lost six family members who know that this plane had been found. Two of them died never knowing if their loved one had been identified,” said Anderson-Dell. “My father is 65-years-old. I’ve spoken with a wife who’s still alive. We’re on a time-sensitive matter. We can’t wait for them to drag their feet because some of these people may never know if their loved one has been identified.”
Army Technical Sergeant Leonard George Unger of Gerald, in east-central Missouri, and Air Force Airman 3rd Class Wayne Dean Jackson of Downing, in northeast Missouri, were on the C-124 Globemaster that on November 22, 1952, crashed into a mountain due to poor visibility in a storm.
The wreckage of that plane has been carried by the Colony Glacier some 15 miles from Mount Gannett where the crash occurred. Due to the terrain and weather, the site is only accessible two weeks out of the year. The glacier is pushing into Lake George, and any wreckage or remains carried into the lake could be lost.