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Ernest G. Munn and Peter Stekel - Travel Story of the Century

Travel writer makes a discovery that propels him into the story

Peter Stekel was hiking Kings Canyon National Park this week when he discovered the remains of Ernest G. Munn, missing army airman from WWII. Stekel was hiking the mountain to research a book, hoping to find the Munn's wreckage. But he found more than he bargained for.

Munn's aircraft crashed in 1942 after taking off from Sacramento for a training exercise. There were 4 malePeter Sketel/CNNPeter Sketel/CNN cadets onboard. Hikers found the frozen body of another cadet in 2005 (Leo Mustonen) but the wherabouts of the last 2 men is still a mystery.

Sketel made the discovery a mere 100 ft from where the first man was found. At first he thought it was tree emerging from the melting glacier. "And as I got closer and closer, I noticed what turned out to be a gold ring on his left ring finger," he said.

Stekel says he came to the mountain because he had an idea for an article, which quickly grew into a plot for a book. "The more I learned about it the more excited I became over the story and began to think this would be a great idea for a book," he said in an interview with ABC.

Munn's remains will be returned to his family in Colerain, Ohio where his sisters still live.

According to CNN.com, Munn enlisted at 23, kissed his sisters goodbye and told his mom to keep her beautiful hair long. "His mother lived to be 102, never cut her hair and died awaiting word on his fate."

Stekel told CNN he's happy he helped the family find closure. "For this family, they've been spending more than 60 years knowing that Munn had been killed but not knowing where he was or what had happened."

Stekel flew to Fresno to talk to the Coroner about Munn's autopsy report, ongoing research for the book he hopes will be published in 2009.

What's the strangest thing you've ever found while traveling?

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