Bones that were discovered this month on California’s second-highest peak may belong to a Japanese-American man who was incarcerated at a World War II-era Japanese internment camp, authorities said.

Giichi Matsumura, who was housed at the infamous Manzanar camp during the war, vanished on July 29, 1945 — a few days before Japan surrendered –when he tagged along with six to 10 fisherman to a chain of lakes beneath the 14,374-foot Mount Williamson.

By then, prisoners were allowed to leave Manzanar, but Matsumura was among a group that stayed behind– because their homes had been taken or they feared racism and violence, Brian Niiya of Densho, an organization dedicated to preserving Japanese internment history, told the Associated Press.

During the jaunt, Matsumura, a 46-year-old gardener from Santa Monica, got caught in a freak summer snowstorm. The other fishermen took shelter in a cave and couldn’t find him when they emerged.

About a month later, Mary DeDecker, a botanist and avid hiker, spotted Matsumura’s remains and reported the find to authorities. A burial party climbed the peak, found the body and buried it.

Pictures of people who were incarcerated at Manzanar War Relocation Center
Pictures of people who were incarcerated at Manzanar War Relocation CenterGetty Images

“It was before the days of helicopters,” DeDecker’s daughter, Joan Busby, told the AP. “They left him up there covered in stones and a blanket.”

Earlier this month, San Diego hiker Tyler Hofer got off course on his way to the summit and came across a skull and an entire skeleton on its back, arms crossed in what appeared to be a burial pose.

Authorities said there did not appear to be any indication of foul play, and disputed Hofer’s account that the skull was fractured.

The Inyo County sheriff’s office told the AP that the remains could in fact belong to Matsumura.

If so, Matsumura’s remains will officially have been lost and found twice.

DNA tests could possibly take two to four months, authorities said.

Matsumura’s wife, Ito, died in 2005 at 102 years old. The last of their children, Masuru, died this past summer at 94, his son, Wayne Matsumura, said.

With Post Wires


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