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Archive for Saturday, March 25, 2006

Family buries remains of WWII airman

March 25, 2006

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— A World War II airman whose frozen body was chipped out of a California glacier last fall was laid to rest Friday in his hometown of Brainerd, more than six decades after the young man disappeared during a training flight.

Leo Mustonen's two nieces were among about 100 people who gathered at First Lutheran Church to say goodbye. A full military funeral followed at a cemetery overlooking the Mississippi River.

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.

South Dakota

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