Remains from two Missouri military men unaccounted for since the 1952 crash of an Air Force plane in Alaska have been identified and are coming home for burial.
Air Force Airman 3rd Class Wayne Dean Jackson of Downing and Army Technical Sergeant Leonard George Unger of Gerald were among 52 men who died November 22, 1952, when the C-124 Globemaster crashed into Mount Gannett in Alaska. Not long after the crash the wreckage was lost.
It was rediscovered in 2012 some 16 kilometers from the crash site where it had been carried by the Colony Glacier. Since then military teams have gone to the site to recover any remains and wreckage they could before they are carried into nearby Lake George.
Friday morning the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System contacted members of Unger’s and Jackson’s families and told them remains had been identified has belonging to those men. Those family members talked to Missourinet.
Unger’s son Raymond told Missourinet he was surprised.
“It almost looks like you couldn’t find anything there,” said Unger of the wreckage site. “It feels like I’m going to get a little closure.”
Unger’s sister, Theresa Bowland, emotionally told Missourinet the identification means a great deal to her.
“More than you could ever know, because he was my godfather,” said Bowland.
Vicki Kelso Dodson claims Jackson as a brother and has never forgotten his mother wanting him to be brought home.
“She said to me every day, ‘If I could get his body off of that mountain. He hates snow, he hates cold. If I could bring him home,'” said Dodson just hours after getting the call from the AFMES. “She’s been gone now for 16-years but she said that every day to me, and I’m going to bring him home.”
Unger’s family must still determine where his remains will be laid to rest. Dodson said that’s already been decided by Jackson’s mother, who had a stone placed for Jackson in the Downing City Cemetery.
“It has a picture of a C-124 Globemaster on it,” said Dodson. “There’s a spot between his mom and dad. She saved a spot to bring him back and that’s where I’m bringing him.”
The remains are still in AFMES’ custody in Dover, Delaware, until arrangements can be made to transport them.
With the identifications of Jackson and Unger, remains have now been connected to 30 of the 52 men killed in that crash.