Experts in the ‘race against time’ to recover remains of service members killed in Alaska 66 years ago

Some items, such as a child’s doll, restored this summer at the crash site.

( Bushatz)

Service members have to try to discover the latest sets of remains belonging to 52 American soldiers who died in a remote Alaska plane crash almost seven decades ago that they are in a “race against time”, because the dirt is closer to the edge of a glacier.

Volunteers from two bases in the area and mortuary affairs crew are back on the Colony glacier to search for artifacts and remains from the 1952 crash, and so far this summer found a number of items, including wedding rings, dog tags, and uniform pieces.

“It shows that it is a race against time. The ice will expose what it reveals, and it is up to us to get it at the right time,” Air Force Capt. Victoria Martinez, who is leading this year of the mission, said

The officials say that they are probably five years of work to do, but according to the website, the wreck is located less than a kilometer from the glacier’s edge in Lake George and the entire site can be quickly swallowed up in the ice.

Recovery crews come to the site since 2012 to look for remains and items belonging to the 52 killed in the crash.

( Bushatz)

The Air Force C-124, which was transporting dozens of officers, eight soldiers, a Marine and a sailor, slammed into Mount Gannett outside of Anchorage when the fly to what is now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

For decades, there is no debris or remains were found, until an Army of the National Guard of the crew on a training flight spotted the wreckage in 2012.

Recovery operations have now been taking place every year, but teams have a short window of time to do their work because the shifting temperatures open up dangerous crevasses in the ice. The internship usually lasts from June to early July, and so far 38 of the 52 sets of remains are identified and sent back to the families.

“Two of the rings that I saw them, and it was on the side, wedged in the ice on the side of the gorge, and it was only a matter of hours before it would be melted and lost,” Martinez said about the discovery this summer of the items that belong to about 10 different people.

“When you get on your hands and knees and searches through the millions of stones on a glacier and you get a ring it’s really exciting,” she added. “It is the smallest thing that we can perhaps associate with someone.”

A specialized recovery team in 2012 to search for a plane wreck in the vicinity of the Colony Glacier.


Air Force Capt. Brian spring onion, which is set to lead the mission next year, told the recovery, to help bring closure to the families of the victims.

“We have a huge impact on the families of 66 years ago, that finally something,” he said.

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