Back to Top Skip to main content

Colony Glacier: Joint team unearths lost service members

Recovery team members traverse Colony Glacier, Alaska, June 2019. The recovery team was searching for remains from a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed into Gannett Mountain, Alaska, on Nov. 22, 1952, while flying from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska resulting in the loss of 52 service members. (Courtesy photo) Recovery team members traverse Colony Glacier, Alaska, June 2019. The recovery team was searching for remains from a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed into Gannett Mountain, Alaska, on Nov. 22, 1952, while flying from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska resulting in the loss of 52 service members. (Courtesy photo)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and contractors came together in June to search for additional remains from a crash that happened nearly 70 years earlier.

On November 22, 1952, a C-124 Globemaster II, which had 52 passengers and crewmembers aboard, crashed into Mount Gannett while flying from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. At the time, weather conditions prevented an immediate recovery with later search attempts unable to locate the crash site.

In 2012, an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crew spotted the aircraft wreckage on Colony Glacier while conducting a training mission in the area. Recovery operations were conducted in late June and confirmed it was the missing C-124 crash site.

Every summer the Alaskan Command, AKNG personnel, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations and Armed Forces Medical Examiner System personnel have supported Operation Colony Glacier. Ongoing efforts have helped to identify 40 of the 52 service members.

“Based off the weather and the glacier itself, June has been the optimal time frame,” said Air Force Capt. Brian Scallion, AFMAO operations support division chief. “Prior to June, it’s still covered in snow and you’re not going to be able to see remains. After the end of June, with the way the glacier melts and shifts, there are huge crevasses that make it unsafe and a lot of melting, so June has been that sweet spot.”

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment provided a mountaineer team to help safely move the recovery team up and down the glacier.

“We helped aid in moving up and down the glacier, traversing crevasses and the overall safety of personnel on the ice,” Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Ward, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, Blackfoot Company weapons squad leader and senior level mountaineer. “Once we deemed a path safe, we would move that direction to recover as much as we possibly could.”

Airmen from the 3rd Maintenance Squadron Aero Repair Crash, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Team were also part of the recovery team. 

“It’s part of our responsibility, but, it’s more meaningful then that,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Johnson, 3rd Maintenance Squadron Aero Repair flight chief. “It gives us a perspective for who we are and what we stand for and the team feels the same. Knowing there’s someone else they’re helping is what motivates them.” 

Once the recovery team had finished up for the year, the remains were brought back to the 673rd Medical Group at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson where Armed Forces Medical Examiner System personnel conducted an inventory of the remains. A dignified carry and dignified departure for the remains was then conducted by the JBER Honor Guard and 673rd MDG personnel before being escorted to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where AFMES could begin the process of identifying the remains.

Scallion has seen this mission from many different roles. From being on the recovery team, to being part of an escort for one of the fallen to even being the officer in charge of a funeral detail for one of the members on the C-124.

“It has been an honor to be a part of this mission,” said Scallion. “I have been able to see every side of it. It’s an honor to see families and cities are still remembering this individual and they are not forgotten and it’s something to give back to the families after such a long time.”

This is part one of a two-part series on the Colony Glacier recovery efforts.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity. Read original post.    

You also may be interested in...

USS Oklahoma Display Board

Photo
12/2/2016
Todd Weiler, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Ronald Keohane, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; listen to Deborah Skillman, Director, Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, explain the display board of confirmed USS Oklahoma remains identified by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory Nov. 4, 2016, at Armed Forces Medical Examiner System on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Weiler and Keohane received briefings and met with personnel at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, AFMES and the Joint Personal Effects Depot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Todd Weiler, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Ronald Keohane, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; listen to Deborah Skillman, Director, Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, explain the display board of confirmed USS Oklahoma remains identified by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory Nov. 4, 2016, at Armed Forces Medical Examiner System on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Weiler and Keohane received briefings and met with personnel at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, AFMES and the Joint Personal Effects Depot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations

Sean Patterson with the USS Oklahoma Identification Board

Photo
12/2/2016
Sean Patterson, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry DNA analyst, stands in front of the USS Oklahoma Identification Board Nov. 29, 2016, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The board provides a picture for all 393 unaccounted service members from the ship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

Sean Patterson, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry DNA analyst, stands in front of the USS Oklahoma Identification Board Nov. 29, 2016, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The board provides a picture for all 393 unaccounted service members from the ship. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations

Todd Weiler

Photo
12/2/2016
Todd Weiler, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, listens to Dr. Timothy McMahon, Chief of Forensic Services for the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, explain the different types of identification procedures used to identify remains recovered from the USS Oklahoma and processed by the AFDIL Nov. 4, 2016, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Del. The AFDIL, a subdivision of AFMES, is the sole Department of Defense DNA laboratory tasked with identifying human remains from current and past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Todd Weiler, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, listens to Dr. Timothy McMahon, Chief of Forensic Services for the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, explain the different types of identification procedures used to identify remains recovered from the USS Oklahoma and processed by the AFDIL Nov. 4, 2016, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Del. The AFDIL, a subdivision of AFMES, is the sole Department of Defense DNA laboratory tasked with identifying human remains from current and past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations

Sean Patterson with the USS Oklahoma History Board

Photo
12/2/2016
Sean Patterson, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry DNA analyst, stands in front of the USS Oklahoma History Board Nov. 29, 2016, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The board tells what happened to the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the difficulty of identifying the 429 service members who were lost. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

Sean Patterson, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Department of Defense DNA Registry DNA analyst, stands in front of the USS Oklahoma History Board Nov. 29, 2016, at AFMES on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The board tells what happened to the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the difficulty of identifying the 429 service members who were lost. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashlin Federick)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System | DoD DNA Operations

Skeletal Remains from the Mexican-American War

Photo
9/30/2016
The skeletal remains of the possible U.S. soldiers were solemnly carried to an awaiting vehicle by the U.S. Army Old Guard ceremonial team, under the watchful gaze of senior military, university and government leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The skeletal remains of the possible U.S. soldiers were solemnly carried to an awaiting vehicle by the U.S. Army Old Guard ceremonial team, under the watchful gaze of senior military, university and government leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System

Skeletal Remains Returned to U.S. Soil

Photo
9/30/2016
On Sept. 28, 2016, approximately 170 years after the war, as many as 13 skeletal remains were returned to U.S. soil and honored during a solemn movement at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Sept. 28, 2016, approximately 170 years after the war, as many as 13 skeletal remains were returned to U.S. soil and honored during a solemn movement at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Medical Examiner System
<< < 1 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 6 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.