Beech 18 AT-7 Navigator Copyright Museum of Flight - all rights reserved

June 2008


a blog by Peter Stekel

FINAL FLIGHT is the story of four aviators lost in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks on November 18, 1942

FINAL FLIGHT, coming from Wilderness Press in 2010

Read more about FINAL FLIGHT here.

June 10 - Our armies, ourselves
This essay by Nancy Gibbs from the May 26, 2008 issue of Time Magazine addresses the issue of how our nation treats veterans.

Keri Brown with West Virginia Public Broadcasting in Wheeling, West Virginia, produced this excellent 12 minute documentary about the life of Glenn Munn. It was first  broadcast last May following Munn's funeral. It features interviews with Glenn's sisters and the nephew and niece of William Gamber, pilot of the lost aircraft.

There is also an extended interview with me, where I describe how I discovered Glenn Munn's body on the glacier. The show includes video and photographs taken by me of Darwin Canyon, Mendel Glacier and the gold ring on Munn's finger.

There are two parts to this documentary.

part 1


part 2


Here are three new videos covering Leo Mustonen and his funeral service from March, 2006. The first is an interview with Mustonen family friend, Marge Freeman.

Here is part of the pastor's words, recounting how Leo Mustonen was lost.


This one is of the 21 gun salute at the funeral

June 2 - Phyllis Reynolds
Here is Phyllis Reynolds, Bill Gamber's high school sweetheart. She was the daughter [and second child] of Fayette's doctor. Phyllis was validictorian of her high school graduating class in 1939. She eventually married and lived the rest of her life in and around Fort Myers, FL. Phyllis Reynolds Stilson died July 3, 2006. According to her son, Jamie Stilson, she was aware that a crewmember from her old sweetheart's plane had been discovered. She told her son, "I almost married one of them!"
June 2 - Thoughts [and a video] about Memorial Day
God and the soldier, all men adore
In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted,
God is forgotten, and the soldier slighted.
...etched onto the wall of a sentry box in Gibralter

In 1999 and 2000 I spent much of the [north American] winter traveling in Australia. It's an amazing place for many reasons. Something that struck me, that I was completely unprepared for, was that in every town - no matter the size - was the war memorials. They were all founded in remembering the Great War [what we now know as World War I] and the phrase that was consistent from memorial to memorial was, "Lest we forget." The Australian people who served in the armed forces in subsequent wars have not been forgotten either.

It's important to know that the Australians, as members of the British Commonwealth, and with rather little concern with European affairs, had the highest casualties of any English-speaking country during the Great War. The cost, in loss of life and in caring for those permanently injured by the war, is something that is not taken lightly. Australian citizens honor and respect their soldiers in a manner I feel is unheard of in our country.

On the other hand, those Americans [and their families] who served their country during the Great War, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and all the other conflicts, wars and non-wars our country have been involved with - they show, from day to day, the same honor and respect all Australian citizens demonstrate to their soldiers. What, exactly, is wrong with us? It's embarrassing to me that the only time we deign to remember those who served us is at Veteran's Day or Memorial Day. Lest we forget and get involved in the same mess all over again.

The young men and women of World War II [my parents generation] refuse to allow any of us to forget their sacrifice. And rightly so.

One of my distinct honors during my research for Final Flight has been to meet, interview and speak with people who served our country during WW II - either on the front lines or on the home front. One of these people, Leonard Spivey, traveled to Europe for Memorial Day, for ceremonies commemorating his friends and fellow-soldiers who were killed in action over the skies of Europe.

If you care anything about the history of our country and the sacrifices made in our names, I suggest you click HERE for a YouTube video documenting the missing man formation at Margraten this last Memorial Day. Leonard Spivey's remembrances of his comrades is personal, heartfelt and demonstrates that those who gave their lives to preserve peace and freedom in the world are not statistics. They are not pawns in some strategic military plan. They are people, like you and me, with families, friends, loved ones - people who will not let their memories die.

A song, No Man's Land, about the Great War, by Australian Eric Bogle, attests to the feelings many in that country feel about war. "Countless white crosses in mute witness stand to man's pained indifference to his fellow man, and a whole generation that is butchered and damned." I feel it worthwhile to contemplate Bogle's words while observing the cemetery that forms the background in the Margraten video, lest we forget their sacrifice.

It is my sincere wish that we will always remember to honor those who served their country while we also question the leaders who send our young men and women off to war. As Mark Twain once remarked, "Loyalty to my country; always. Loyalty to my government; only when it deserves it."

June 1
Several new videos are posted HERE on YouTube including the November, 2005 ABC Nightline program investigating the mystery of the "Ice Man." There is also a November, 2005 interview with Dick Christian, a nephew of 2nd Lt. William Gamber. An audio interview with Dick Christian is located HERE.
I've just been informed that on January 13, 2009, Falcon Press [a division of Globe-Pequot Press] will be publishing my hiking guide - Best Hikes near Seattle. Click HERE for developing information or to pre-order a copy.
I've added some photos of Mendel Glacier, wreckage from the Beech 18 and other items to THIS page on Flickr.

Mendel Glacier, Kings Canyon National Park



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copyright 2010 Peter Stekel, all rights reserved

FINAL FLIGHT, coming from Wilderness Press in 2010



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