Park rangers were working with military officials Wednesday in a remote Sierra Nevada glacier to excavate a body believed to be that of an airman who crashed in 1942.
Two unidentified climbers spotted the frozen head, shoulder and arm of body that is 80 percent encased in ice while climbing the glacier on the 13,710-foot (4,178-meter) Mount Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park, California, said park spokeswoman Alex Picavet.
A crew of park rangers and specialists will camp on the mountain side, in below-freezing temperatures, for what promises to be long, difficult excavation, Picavet said. The crew includes an expert from the Joint Prisoner of War Accounting Command, which recovers and identifies military personnel who have been missing for decades.
"We're not going to go fast," Picavet said. "We want to preserve him as much as possible. He's pretty intact."
Park officials believe the serviceman, who is wearing a US Army Corps parachute, may be part of the crew of an AT-7 navigational training plane that crashed on Nov. 18, 1942. The wreckage and four bodies were found in 1947 by a climber. This man may have been connected to that expedition, although it's hard to tell until the body's been recovered, Picavet said.
The body was found at the base of the glacier, in a remote, icy area that can be reached only after days of hiking, Picavet said.