ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Air Force said Wednesday it has identified the remains of more service members who died when a military transport plane slammed into an Alaska mountain near a glacier more than six decades ago, killing all 52 people aboard.
Thirty-one of the victims aboard the C-124 Globemaster have been recovered and identified since wreckage from the 1952 crash was rediscovered four years ago by an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter crew flying 50 miles northeast of Anchorage.
The wreckage had been found soon after the crash but later became buried in snow and forgotten as it became part of the glacier.
Recovery efforts have been undertaken at Colony Glacier, near Mount Gannett, during the warmer weather of the past four summers. The work has involved searchers wearing safety gear and ice cleats as they painstakingly scour the frozen dirt and ice to see if the melting glacier has given up any more of its dead.
Of the people identified, 25 were members of the Air Force. Another four were in the Army and one each in the Navy and the Marines, said Christin Michaud, a spokeswoman with the Air Force mortuary affairs operations.
The latest victims identified were Airmen 2nd Class Thomas Condon and Conrad Sprague, according to a March 7 Air Force announcement.
Recovery efforts will continue — indefinitely if need be, according to officials. The goal is to recover as many remains as possible before the relatively fast-moving glacier, advancing a couple hundred meters a year, deposits the aircraft wreckage in nearby Inner Lake George.
"There will be a search until this glacier disappears into the lake, until nothing is left there," Air Force Capt. Anastasia Wasem said. "We never give up on our fallen service members until we physically can't anymore."
The Globemaster was heading from McChord Air Force Base in Washington state to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage when it disappeared Nov. 22, 1952, with 41 passengers and 11 crew members.
An Associated Press report dated Nov. 24, 1952, said the aircraft was the third big Air Force transport plane to crash or vanish in Alaska that month and the sixth around the Pacific Rim.
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