ANCHORAGE -- It's said that dead men tell no tales. But a severed arm and hand that emerged from a Wrangell Mountain glacier nine years ago just might -- with the help of two pilots, several forensic and genetic scientists and a raft of state and federal officials.
Their combined efforts, detailed at an Anchorage press conference Friday, have determined that the human remains belong to one of the passengers on board a DC-4 airliner that slammed into the side of Mount Sanford 60 years ago last spring.
More specifically, they belong to Francis Joseph Van Zandt, a 36-year-old merchant marine from Roanoke, Va., who perished in the crash with 23 other sailors and all six crew members on a flight from China to New York via Anchorage on March 12, 1948.
Newspapers at the time called the loss of Northwest Airlines Flight 4422 one of the worst commercial airline crashes in Alaska history. But it quickly became one of the most mysterious as well.
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