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November 15, 2005

Family Believes Frozen Airman is Their Uncle

- Another family believes they could be linked to a decades old mystery found in the Sierra. They believe the frozen remains of a World War II airman could be those of their uncle.

He was with three other airman when their plane went down in 1942 and their bodies were never found.

They were on a training mission that took off from Sacramento and was never heard from again.

Memories of Airman John Mortensen lie on Carol Benson's table. Her uncle and three other airmen died in the plane crash November 18, 1942.

"It was 200 miles off course. We assume there was a big storm in the Sierras and the plane was lost," said Benson.

In 1947, human remains were found, but never identified. A letter addressed to Benson's aunt explains, "It is with regret that an identification will be hard to make. Therefore a group burial will be made."

Airman Mortensen and the three airman were buried in a California military cemetery.

We thought they found the plane, no one survived, and that was closure for that time," said Benson. But an amazing discovery in the Sierra Mountains is giving Benson new hope. Last month, hikers found a perfectly preserved body of a World War II airman near where Mortensen's plane went down.

"i just got an eerie feeling that it just might be the wreckage my uncle was in," said Benson. The body of the airman is at a special forensic identification laboratory. Scientists say the body is in very good condition and an I.D. will soon be made.

"He is an adult, white male about six feet tall," said forensic specialist Robert Mann. And there are other clues, like a corroded name badge, a uniform and coins.

The military believes they know who it is, but want a DNA test to confirm the identify.

Back in Ogden, Carol Benson is willing to wait it out. "I'm getting more anxious to know that hopefully soon, they'll know," she said.




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