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Photos: 1952 military plane crash salvage on Colony Glacier

Members of a specialized investigative team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command wait as a UH-60 Blackhawk from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson comes in for a landing to transport them back after a day of assessing a historic aircraft crash site. The mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is to conduct global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense's personnel accounting efforts.
Clifford Bailey / US Navy
Greg Berg and Ms. Kelley Esh, anthropologists leading a specialized recovery team with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, verify a location point as they assess a historic aircraft wreckage site. The mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is to conduct global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense's personnel accounting efforts.
Clifford Bailey / US Navy
Army Staff Sgt. Alfonso Gacusan, member of a specialized recovery team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, searches among the stones and rocks for possible evidence from a historic aircraft wreck site. The Mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is to conduct global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense's personnel accounting efforts.
Clifford Bailey / US Navy
Army Sergeant First Class Travis Foley and Staff Sgt. Alfonso Gacusan, members of a specialized recovery team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, anchor themselves to the glacier wall before attempting to search for possible evidence in a crevasse. The team is working to recover possible evidence from a historic aircraft wreck site. The mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is to conduct global search, recovery and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense's personnel accounting efforts.
Clifford Bailey / US Navy
C-124 Globemaster crash debris recovered from the Colony glacier.
Courtesy Tonja Anderson-Dell
C-124 Globemaster crash debris recovered from the Colony glacier.
Courtesy Tonja Anderson-Dell
C-124 Globemaster crash debris recovered from the Colony glacier.
Courtesy Tonja Anderson-Dell
C-124 Globemaster crash debris recovered from the Colony glacier.
Courtesy Tonja Anderson-Dell
Colony Glacier, emptying into Lake George, is the site of a salvage operation underway by the Air Force. They are recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Colony Glacier is the site of a salvage operation underway by the Air Force. They are recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
The crevasses of Colony Glacier complicate a salvage operation underway by the Air Force. They are recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Military personnel recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed on Colony glacier in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Military personnel recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed on Colony glacier in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Debris from an airplane crash on Colony glacier. Colony glacier is the site of a salvage operation underway by the Air Force. They are recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Salvage crews negotiate crevasses on Colony glacier. The military is recovering pieces of a C-124 that crashed in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Military personnel recovering the remains of a C-124 airplane that crashed on Colony glacier in 1952. July 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Alaska Dispatch

It's easy to see how somebody could get lost in the craggy crevasses of Alaska's Knik and Colony glaciers, located about 50 miles east of Anchorage, the state's largest city. It's even surprisingly easy to see how the shifting plates of ice and earth could slowly, over the course of 61 years, digest a huge military plane.

That's exactly what happened in 1952, when an Air Force C-124 cargo plane crashed into Mount Gannett, rising up out of the glacial plain. All 52 souls aboard perished in the accident. Searchers located the crash site some days after the event, but it wasn't long before the wreckage was swallowed up by the movement of the glacier, grinding and grumbling against itself, shifting and shape changing.

The terrain of Knik Glacier and surrounds is full of those crevasses, some only a few feet deep, others so deep you can't see the bottom. Some are just wide enough for a human body to squeeze in; some you could drop a dump truck into. There are some areas that look flatter than others, but then the trenches begin again, like giant claw marks scratched into earth.

It's within this terrain that crews from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright have been working to recover debris from that 1952 crash. After seven decades, the glacier saw fit to spit out some of the wreckage from that historic wreck, and in June, it was spotted by an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter on a routine training mission.

READ MORE: On Alaska's Colony Glacier, crews unearth military history