Services for Arlington vet who died in 1952 crash Saturday

Airman Verne Budahn died in Alaska plane crash

Airman Verne C. Budan

ARLINGTON — A funeral service for a U.S. Air Force veteran who died in a Nov. 22, 1952 plane crash in Alaska will be held at 2 p.m., June 29 at Arlington Public Cemetery.

The remains of Airman 2nd Class Verne C. Budahn were positively identified by medical examiners from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, according to Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations. He was returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Budahn was on a C-124 Globemaster aircraft that crashed enroute from McChord Air Force Base, Washington to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. There were 11 crewmen and 41 passengers on board.

Weather near Elmendorf at the time was very bad with heavy clouds. The C-124 was flying without visual references, using just altitude, a radio beacon and a stopwatch, according to a story in the June 27, 2012 Anchorage Daily News.

Adverse weather conditions precluded immediate recovery attempts. Thirty-two military aircraft searched the surrounding mountains and four Coast Guard vessels searched Prince William Sound.

The aircraft’s wreckage was found on Nov. 28, 1952 by Terris Moore of the Fairbanks, Ak Civil Air Patrol and Lt. Thomas Sullivan of the 10th Air Rescue Squadron, according to the newspaper story.

Moore said he spotted the airplane tail sticking out of the snow at 8,100 feet, and that it appeared the aircraft slid down the cliffs of Mount Gannett and exploded. Wreckage was spread over several acres of the glacier, according to the July 7, 2013 Anchorage Daily News.

Moore reported that it seemed clear there were no survivors and that there was eight feet of snow covering the glacier. Near the aircraft remains, drifted snow piled up hundreds of feet. The crash triggered avalanches that further buried the remains, according to the story.

Debris was then covered by snow and ice, and the wreckage was lost for 60 years.

On June 9, 2012, an Alaska National Guard (AKNG) UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris while conducting a training mission over the Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett.

Three days later, another AKNG team landed at the site to photograph the area. They found artifacts at the site related to the wreckage of the C-124.

In 2013, more artifacts were visible. Every summer since then, during a small window of opportunity, Alaskan Command, AKNG personnel and Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations supported a joint effort of Operation Colony Glacier.

The crash site continues to be monitored for possible future discovery.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).