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Wreckage found in Alaska glacier ID'd as 1952 military plane crash that killed 52

Dod-Cpt. Jamie D. Dobson / U.S. Army via Reuters

A specialized eight-person recovery team, with team members from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Northern Warfare Training Center, searches for aircraft wreckage, remains, or other personal effects while conducting recovery operations on Knik Glacier on June 20.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The wreckage of a military plane found near Knik Glacier earlier this month has been identified as a Korean War-era Air Force cargo plane that crashed in the 1950s, killing all 52 people on board, NBC station KTUU of Anchorage reported Wednesday.

The identification brings closure to victims' families after nearly 60 years, KTUU said.

Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command spokesperson Capt. Jamie Dobson said the wreckage, discovered June 10 on Colony Glacier, about 45 miles east of Anchorage, by a UH-60 Blackhawk crew with the Alaska Army National Guard-- is that of a Douglas C-124A Globemaster II that crashed on Nov. 22, 1952.

See the original story at NBC station KTUU

While evidence collected by the eight-man team is en route to JPAC’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii for further analysis, Dobson told KTUU the plane was identifiable by materials found at the scene.

"Some of the evidence has already been positively correlated with this crash," Dobson told KTUU.

Harsh weather prevented a recovery at the time and later searchers could not locate it.

U.S. Air Force via AP, file

An undated photo of a C-124A Globemaster cargo aircraft similar to the plane that went down on the Colony Glacier in Alaska in 1952, killing all 52 people on board.

The Globemaster II entered Air Force service in 1950 as the world’s largest transport plane. Its forward loading ramp and aft cargo elevator, as well as its ability to carry 68,500 pounds of cargo or 200 passengers on two decks of seating, made it the Air Force's primary heavy-lift transport into the early 1960s, KTUU reported.

The four-propeller transport was eventually replaced by the C-141 Starlifter jet, but its name lives on in Alaska skies with the C-17 Globemaster III, operated by the 517th Airlift Squadron at Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Crash researcher Tonja Anderson, whose grandfather Airman Isaac Anderson died in the crash, told KTUU the cargo plane was on a flight from McChord Air Force Base in Washington to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage when it crashed near the 8,000-foot level of Mount Gannett.

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