Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson   Right Corner Banner

News > JBER Airmen provide dignified-transfer support
JBER Airmen provide dignifi ed-transfer support
Senior Airman Brittney Flores prepares to unload a transfer case at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, June 28, 2012. The case contained material evidence and possible human remains from a C-124 Globemaster II crash which occurred Nov. 22, 1952, killing all 52 personnel on board. The wreckage partially surfaced on Colony Glacier and was spotted June 10. The transfer case was fl own to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, so the contents could be analyzed. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
Download HiRes
JBER Airmen provide dignified-transfer support

Posted 7/5/2012   Updated 7/5/2012 Email story   Print story


by PAO staff report
JBER Public Affairs

7/5/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson provided a dignified transfer Thursday of a transfer case containing personal effects and possible human remains from an aircraft wreckage site on Colony Glacier.

The wreckage partially surfaced from the glacier and was spotted June 10 by an Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on a training mission. The crew, realizing it was a downed aircraft, returned to JBER and alerted authorities.

The wreckage is believed to be that of a a C-124 Globemaster II. On Nov. 22, 1952, the aircraft and its 41 passengers and 11 crew members were conducting an operational mission from McChord Air Force Base in Washington to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.

The aircraft went missing and a crash site was found on the glacier not long afterward - but bad weather and heavy snow made recovery impossible. Two weeks later, when a team returned to the site, they could not find evidence of the crash.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command sent a team to the glacier June 18 to analyze the site and conduct recovery operations. They collected evidence consistent with the C-124.

"We found material evidence and possible human remains," said Greg Berg, a forensic anthropologist with JPAC. "It's being shipped to our lab for analysis." Using dental and DNA evidence, the remains may be identifiable so families can have some closure, he said.

The total force response led by Joint Task Force-Alaska provided that critical support which was pivotal in the process, Berg said.

"We received unprecedented support from the command and the medical examiner's staff," he said. "They totally took care of us, and it went without a hitch."

Since the wreckage was on a glacier - unusual territory - Soldiers from U.S. Army Alaska's Northern Warfare Training Center assisted the team while on the glacier.
The Alaska Army National Guard provided all the transportation, said Derek Congram, another forensic anthropologist at the Central Identification Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. "They were johnny-on-the-spot; they got us in when we needed to get in," Congram said. "They were really, really good - the same unit that found the wreckage."

Air Force Capt. Tony Pickett, a mortuary officer with the 673d Force Support Squadron, helped lead JBER's contributions to the recovery effort.

"Initially, when it was discovered, we were prepared to do a search-and-recovery operation," he said. "Then JPAC called, and JBER took a support role from that point.
"We arranged for the transfer case and the honor guard for the dignified transfer," he said.

The honor guard escorted the transfer case from a hearse at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage onto an Alaska Airlines flight to Honolulu, where it would be met by another honor guard. Honor guard member Senior Airman Kalvin Gilhousen, of the 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron, said it was his first dignified transfer ceremony.

"It's a great experience, and I'm happy to be a part of it," Gilhousen said. "It's the greatest feeling on earth - helping send fellow troops home."

Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Griste, mortuary affairs supervisor, said while they frequently deal with deceased service members, this situation was different, partly because the incident happened so long ago.

"It's a unique experience," he said. "It's not every day you get a call in which someone says they believe they found a downed airplane. It's the first time in my career I've done this ... seeing at least some families get closure. It's a big deal, and we're getting to do our part."

No comments yet.  
Add a comment

 Inside JBER

ima cornerSearch

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act