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Kings Canyon, known for a wild and wooly backcountry that can swallow even its own rangers whole, doesn’t divulge secrets easily. That makes last August’s discovery of a missing World War II Army flier by hikers in the park even more incredible. Army scientists at the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii confirmed the 65-year-old body belonged to Aviation Cadet Ernest “Glenn” Munn, who in 1942 vanished along with three others during a routine training flight. At the time, Munn was a 23-year-old farm boy from Ohio, excited by the prospect of becoming a flyer in the military. In a letter to his family, he wrote:
“But after more study and practical flying experience, it seems to present itself little by little…I have been beginning to like it a lot better.”
Kings Canyon hikers have played a part in finding all of the victims of the botched Army training flight. In 1947, hikers found the plane and some unidentifiable human remains on Darwin Glacier. Then, decades later in 2005, hikers found a frozen body later identified as fellow cadet Leo Mustonen. Other hikers discovered another body almost two years later near where Mustonen’s body was found, and DNA evidence confirmed the remains were Munn’s. Munn was found with an old wallet, which contained fading photographs and a 1923 Buffalo nickel.
“It’s sort of a closure,” said Munn’s sister, 88-year-old Jeanne Pyle of Saint Clairsville, Ohio, not far from where Munn and his three sisters grew up. “I can still see my mother. She would just set and cry and cry and cry.”
Munn’s remains will be buried on May 17 in Pleasant Grove, OH, where he will receive a full military funeral. Army flier lost 65 years found and IDd (San Francisco Chronicle)