It all started with curiosity and a passion for adventure, when Clayton Kuhel decided to embark on a quest to Himalayas. Kuhel describes himself as a ‘professional adventurer’ originally from Arizona he has now dedicated his life and time to discover the bodies of the airmen who crashed and died in Himalayas almost 70 years ago.
Against all odds Kuhel is determined to accomplish his ‘crusade’ to track down the sites of all the crashed planes and recover as many remains of soldiers as possible. The tough terrain, strict international laws against transport of human remains and most of all Kuhel’s financial situation, all piled up into a mountain taller then any K2 or Nanga Parbat – 2 most challenging peaks in Himalayas.
Kuhel says that for many families of the airmen who lost their lives in ‘the Hump’- name given to a certain mountain ridge in Himalaya where 750 supply planes crashed – deserve to know the whereabouts of their loved ones.
‘The Hump’, a no man’s land in the lap of Himalayan Mountains is the graveyard of hundreds of airmen who bravely fought the weather, Japanese fighter planes and the supply route from hell.
Before the US had officially got engaged in the Battle with the Japanese, it had to help Chinese against the fearsome Japanese Army. US Army conducted the world’s largest airlift in collaboration with Pan-American Airways and China National Aviation corp. The idea was to airlift supplies from bases in India and Burma, since all other supply rotes were either heavily guarded or simply destroyed by the Japanese. The route turned out to be a deadly endeavor and hundreds of airmen lost their lives after crashing into the mountains, the Fox News reports.
The most amazing thing about the whole affair that impressed and motivated Kuhel was the fact that most of the airmen knew they might not return due to the reputation of the route. There was also a constant risk of Japanese fighters destroying the ‘unarmed’ heavy planes. The sheer bravery and commitment of the airmen is beyond comprehension and deserves a worldwide recognition, says Kuhel.
Kohl first found out about the crash sites from a guide in India during his trip in 2002. Initially skeptical, Kuhel decided to make the journey after reading about the mission and crashed planes.
The project has already cost him over $100,000, however his will is strong and he has no intentions to step down from his quest. Kuhel has already made eight trips to the Hump and has successfully located at least 22 crash sites that account for 93 airmen. After the war these airmen were listed as MIA (Missing in Action) by the US Army.
Kuhel describes his search as the most nerve wrecking, challenging and yet satisfying adventures of his life. Some of the times he was left alone climbing over 14,000 feet in the worst possible weather conditions, however he came out a victor. Kuhel has documented his findings in great details but has concerns about his resources. He has brought some of the belongings of the perished soldiers and in rare occasions, he recovered some remains and managed to bring them to the families of the brave airmen lost in the Hump.