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Kings Canyon CA MIA

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 12:14 pm
by u23b
A while ago I posted the discovery of an MIA in Kings Canyon CA.

The ID was completed and I wanted to post an update. ... index.html

eric s

Re: Kings Canyon CA MIA

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:00 pm
by u23b

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:15 pm
by Daniel Leahy
Thanks for the updates. I believe Mustonen was buried last Friday:
Frozen WWII Airman Gets Proper Burial

BRAINERD, Minn. -- For years, Leo Mustonen's relatives knew only that he died in a military plane crash -- and that his remains, along with those of his three comrades, were never brought home. That all changed last year, when his frozen body was chipped out of a California glacier. Friday, more than six decades after his training flight disappeared, the World War II airman was laid to rest in his hometown.

"He's no longer out there on a mountain alone," said his niece, Leane Ross.
Leo Mustonen's closest surviving relatives grew up knowing little about their uncle. In the months since the discovery, they have learned he was an ace student who excelled in science, played in the school band and sports, and dreamed of working in aviation even as a boy.

"It's been pretty incredible," Ross said. "He's become really a person. He really feels like he is ours now, and we've grown to love him."

Mustonen's nieces were among about 100 people who gathered in their uncle's hometown to bury him. A full military funeral followed at a cemetery overlooking the Mississippi River. His cremated remains were laid to rest next to his long-dead parents, Anna and Arvid Mustonen. The military paid for the funeral, as it would for any soldier who died on active duty.

"This is one of the most unique and special days that any of us will ever be a part of," Pastor Andy Smith said. "Today we are burying a small-town boy from Brainerd, Minnesota, who dreamed of flying."

Mustonen was 22 when his AT-7 navigational plane disappeared after takeoff from a Sacramento, Calif., airfield on Nov. 18, 1942. An engine, scattered remains and clothing were found over the following years, far from the plane's intended course. All four men aboard were killed in the crash.

But Mustonen's remains were not found until last year, when two mountain climbers in California spotted an arm jutting out of the ice. Forensic scientists at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii analyzed bones, DNA samples and the airman's teeth before declaring in February that the body was Mustonen's.

Mustonen's nieces, his closest surviving relatives, have no memory of their uncle. Mary Ruth Mustonen was 11 months old when he died. A picture at the funeral showed Leo, a handsome young blond man, holding her on his lap. Mary Ruth's sister, Ross, wasn't yet born.

One thing the sisters learned is the pain that Anna Mustonen went through after her son's disappearance. They've spent time with Marjorie Freeman, whose mother-in-law was Anna Mustonen's best friend. Freeman told the sisters that the two women would meet for coffee every day, Anna Mustonen often in tears within minutes.

"She would say, 'Oh my Leo, my Leo! If only he could come home,'" Smith said during the funeral.

The sisters, who both live in Jacksonville, Fla., said they had not been close in the past, but that changed last fall after the Army contacted them.

"I think this has been one of the gifts Uncle Leo's discovery has given his family," Ross said. "A chance to come together again -- to be a family."