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Airman frozen in mountains was on missing WWII plane

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Remains found in a California mountain range last fall are those of an airman from Minnesota whose plane went missing during World War II, a friend of the man’s family said Saturday. The U.S. Department of Defense determined the remains are those of Leo Mustonen, who was 22 when the plane he was in crashed 64 years ago in the Sierra Nevada mountains, family friend Marjorie Freeman told The Associated Press. Freeman, of Baxter, said a niece of Mustonen’s called her after being notified by defense officials. CNN also reported the identification, citing Mustonen’s nieces, Leane Mustonen Ross and Ona Lea Mustonen, both of Florida. “I felt in my heart all along that it was him,” Ross told CNN. “I’ve even made funeral arrangements and everything.” Ross didn’t return calls from The Associated Press on Saturday. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Last October, authorities recovered a body encased in ice in Kings Canyon National Park. Military anthropologists narrowed their options to four men who flew out of Sacramento’s Mather Field the night the plane disappeared: Mustonen; pilot William Gamber, 23, of Fayette, Ohio; and aviation Cadets Ernest Munn, 23, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, and John Mortenson, 25, of Moscow, Idaho. The deep cold preserved the airman’s remains well over the intervening decades, providing researchers with a number of clues. Standing between 5-9 and 6-2, the man was in his early 20s and had light brown or sandy blond hair. He wore a brown U.S. Army Air Forces uniform predating the founding of the Air Force as a separate service in 1947. Investigators were able to read a name on a faded badge on the serviceman’s clothing, but declined to reveal it until the identity was confirmed through DNA. last_img read more