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17 service members recovered from Air Force plane lost in 1952

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The Department of Defense announced this afternoon that the bodies of 17 United States service members who were killed when their C-124 Globemaster crashed nearly 62 years ago, have been recovered west of Mount Gannett, Alaska.

For unknown reasons, the Globemaster went down Nov. 22, 1952, after leaving McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Wash., (now Joint Base Lewis McChord) heading north to Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, Alaska.

There were 11 crew and 41 passengers onboard the heavy-lift aircraft at the time it went missing.

The official release today named the following 17 personnel as officially identified and recovered:

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lawrence S. Singleton, Pvt. James Green, Jr., and Pvt. Leonard A. Kittle; U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Earl J. Stearns; U.S. Navy Cmdr. Albert J. Seeboth; U.S. Air Force Col. Noel E. Hoblit, Col. Eugene Smith, Capt. Robert W. Turnbull, 1st Lt. Donald Sheda, 1st Lt. William L. Turner, Tech. Sgt. Engolf W. Hagen, Staff Sgt. James H. Ray, Airman 1st Class Marion E. Hooton, Airman 2nd Class Carroll R. Dyer, Airman 2nd Class Thomas S. Lyons, Airman 2nd Class Thomas C. Thigpen, and Airman 3rd Class Howard E. Martin have been recovered and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

The hometowns of record were not released with the names of the deceased.

Recovery attempts in 1952 were halted due to adverse weather conditions; the crash site unidentified.

It wasn’t until June of 2012, that an Alaska National Guard Blackhawk spotted the old wreckage site while on a routine training mission. The Blackhawk crew documented the location and three days later another Blackhawk landed to photograph the site and verify artifacts at the scene.

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in conjunction with Joint Task Force painstakingly performed recovery and identification protocol and procedures. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic tools as well as circumstantial evidence to identify the crash victims.

While this recovery was hampered by the rugged terrain of Alaska and inclement weather in the Great North, there were no political complications that typically face JPAC teams as they perform investigative and recovery missions in foreign countries.

  • Correction from the Department of Defense 19 June, 2014: The correct rank for the Air Force service members is Airman 1st Class Marion E. Hooton, Airman 2nd Class Carroll R. Dyer, Airman 2nd Class Thomas S. Lyons, Airman 2nd Class Thomas C. Thigpen, and Airman 3rd Class Howard E. Martin. Additionally 703-614-1742 is the correct number for the Army public affairs office and 703-697-5342 is the correct number for the Navy public affairs office.
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