Saturday, March 25, 2006

Science Saturday V: A Flyboy Finally Goes Home

Army anthropologists have identified the mummified remains of a World War II airman found by hikers on the Darwin Glacier in California.

He is Leo M. Mustonen of Brainerd, Minn., whose plane disappeared on Nov. 18, 1942 on a navigational training flight from Mather Field, near Sacramento.

Searchers found no trace of the plane, but almost five years later parts of it were discovered by two college students, along with a nametag belonging to one of Mustonen's three crewmates and a small piece of frozen flesh. The remains were intered in a group burial that bore the names of all four men.

A military team cut out the mummified remains, ice and all, after their discovery by the hikers. They were transported to laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu, where anthropologists thawed the mummy by spraying it with water and through careful analysis identified Mustonen.

He was laid to rest yesterday in private ceremonies in his old hometown.

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