Skeleton found on Mount Williamson identified

Skeleton found on Mount
The Manzanar Cemetery with a backdrop of the eastern Sierra mountains. Mount Williamson is shrouded by clouds in the background. (Jay O’Connell photo)

In a joint press release, the Inyo County Sheriff’s office and the Manzanar National Historic Site announced Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, that the skeletal remains discovered by two hikers near the summit of Mount Williamson in the Sierra Nevada last October have been positively identified as Giichi Matsumura. DNA testing was able to confirm the remains were indeed those of the 46-year-old Manzanar internee who, in 1945, just days before the end of World War II, succumbed to the elements during a late-summer snowstorm in the Sierra during a hiking trip with other members of the confinement camp. Skeleton found on Mount
Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and anyone of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. were incarcerated during World War II. The 814-acre site is located on the east side of the Sierra between Lone Pine and Independence and, since 1997, has been administered by the National Park Service. Skeleton found on Mount

See AP article by Brian Melley here.

Coverage of the recent find on the flanks of Mount Williamson, California’s second highest peak, and now the positive identification of those remains, has been extensive. Major news outlets such as CNN, NBC News, the New York Times, and countless others across the country featured the story. And this tale of a “re-discovery” leading us to look back at a regrettable slice of American history has even garnered international exposure at BBC News, The Guardian, and Japan Times, to name a few.

Skeleton found on Mount
The memorial service held at Manzanar for Giichi Matsumura, who died on nearby Mount Williamson in September 1945. (Photo courtesy Kazue Matsumura)

Coming soon to 3 Rivers News, local author Jay O’Connell will take an in-depth look at the story of one man’s journey from his native Japan to the California land of opportunity; his life in Southern California leading up to his forced relocation and incarceration at Manzanar in the barren high desert of the eastern Sierra; his life behind barbed wire with his family at the camp; and the ill-fated trek up a mountain that, until just this past fall, served as his final resting place; to the unlikely find by two hikers, seeking only to conquer California’s second highest peak, that brought this story back to light and ultimately will bring Giichi Matsumura, who was born in 1898, to a new final resting place, a cemetery in Santa Monica where his remains will be interred alongside those of his beloved wife.
Skeleton found on Mount
Present-day entrance to Manzanar War Relocation Center. (Jay O’Connell photo)

Drawing on interviews with the hikers who discovered the skeleton, a filmmaker who documented the history of Manzanar, thousands of pages of historical research, a visit to Manzanar National Historic Site, and with the cooperation of the Matsumura family, O’Connell dons his historian hat once again with the upcoming series exclusively for 3 Rivers News entitled “In the Shadow of the Mountain.” It is a series dedicated not only to the memory of Giichi Matsumura, but to the more than 110,000 people, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, incarcerated from 1942 to 1945 in the United States of America. Skeleton found on Mount

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