MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — An Arizona mountaineer is under federal investigation after an expedition to the Himalayas to recover the remains of the crew of a B-25 bomber shot down in World War II, a newspaper reported.
Clayton Kuhles was met by federal agents when he returned from India to the United States in January with small plastic bags containing what he said were human remains, The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday.
The remains should have been turned over to the U.S. Embassy in India for verification so they could be returned in flag-draped coffins, said J.R. Rausch, a city council member in Marysville, Ohio, whose residents had raised $44,000 to fund the expedition and return the remains of the airmen, two of whom were from Marysville.
Archaeologists did not accompany Kuhles, who argued that he has not done anything wrong, The Dispatch reported.
Kuhles left Nov. 4 and said everyone knew he had a small window because of concerns about winter in the mountains. Two archaeologists who wanted to go with him to the site in the Arunachal Pradesh province of India said they could not travel until mid-December, Kuhles said.
“What did they think, that they would just show up in India and get a cab or take an Uber?” he said.
Kuhles, of Prescott, Arizona, said that he trekked 82 miles out of the mountains in the snow, and that he had no time to take the remains to a consulate or embassy.
Indian officials checked Kuhles’ bags before he left the country, and he was cleared to leave, Kuhles said.
Those involved say both the FBI and the Homeland Security are investigating, but no federal agency would confirm that, The Dispatch reported.
The B-25 was shot down Dec. 10, 1943. Five men died in the crash, including the pilot, Capt. John Porter, and the flight engineer, Sgt. Harold W. Neibler, both of Marysville.