Sierra Wave Media

Eastern Sierra News for June 22, 2024





Military Scientists with JPAC, the Joint POW/MIA Command report that they expect to have the remains of the second WWII era airman found in Sierra glacier at their lab in Hawaii to start the identification process this weekend.

On the Mendel glacier, just over the Sierra Crest from Bishop, last week a hiker found the remains of what appears to be a second WWII era airman about 100 feet from where the frozen remains of Cadet Leo Mustonen were located in October of 2005.

After several months of research and DNA work, Military Scientists identified the remains as Leo Mustonen from Brainerd Minnesota. Mustonen was one of four Army Air Corp servicemen killed on training flight on November 18, 1942.

JPAC officials report that they have sent a military forensic anthropologist to Fresno, where the new remains currently reside, to bring the airman to their labs in Hawaii.

Yesterday the plan was to remove the clothing from the body. The JPAC official reports the clothing was similar to what was found on the remains of cadet Mustonen, who was found still attached to his un-opened parachute.

While it took months to positively identify the first remains and the military scientists make no promises as to when these new remains will be identified, the process could be faster than before.

There were four people on the ill-fated flight that crashed in the Mt. Mendel area in 1942, the pilot Lt. William Gamber, John Mortenson, Ernest G. Munn, and the Leo Mustonen. Mustonen has already been identified, leaving three other likely identities.

This second body from the ice, like the first, has hair and soft tissue so the scientists can get DNA. The JPAC official that we spoke to reports that, because of the leg work done when the first airman was found, DNA from the other three airmens families is already on file.

Adding to the possibility of a quick identification process is that the investigators found a wallet associated with the second remains. The wallet is badly decomposed and wont be opened until it gets to the lab in Hawaii.

As for searching for the remaining two airmen, lost so many years ago, Park Rangers and Park Archeologists have already searched the glacier and found nothing else. Whether the other Servicemen will be emerge from the ice in Future years, is yet to be seen.