Crew remains found from 1952 military plane crash; Rowan man was aboard

U.S. government officials say they have discovered the remains of some of the 52 service members aboard a military plane that crashed in Alaska more than 60 years ago.

One of the crew members was from Rowan County.

The plane, a C-124 Globemaster, crashed Nov. 22, 1952, while headed to Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage. It had left from McChord Air Force Base in Washington state, with 11 crew members and 41 passengers aboard.

The plane crashed into a glacier east of Anchorage. The wreckage remained hidden until two years ago, but it was not until this month that authorities confirmed they had found parts of the C-124.

Among those in the crew was the navigator, 1st Lt. William Turner of China Grove. It is unclear if any of Turner’s relatives still live in the Charlotte region.

The Defense Department said forensic specialists are working to identify the remains that were found.

The plane crashed in bad weather, and search parties were unable to find the wreckage in late November and December 1952. Heavy snow buried the wreckage during that winter, and it remained lost until earlier this month.

Defense Department officials said an Alaska National Guard Blackhawk helicopter spotted aircraft wreckage and debris on June 9, 2012, while on a training mission over a glacier just west of Mount Gannett. A team from the National Guard landed at the site three days later and reported finding artifacts that matched those from the missing plane.

More items were discovered in 2013, and Defense Department officials said they are monitoring the site for possible discovery of other remains.

The C-124 crashed during the Korean War. News coverage from the time said the crew was flying in bad weather, and the plane suffered some type of malfunction that caused it to lose altitude.

According to the website Korean War Educator, a Northwest Airlines pilot reported hearing a message from the plane that said, “As long as we have to land, we might as well land here.”