Amelia Earhart Search Crew Loses Its Final Member
Last of USS Lexington crew dies at 99
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2015 8:21 PM CDT
This 1937 photo shows Amelia Earhart before takeoff in Miami for her attempted round-the-world flight.   (The Miami Herald via AP)

(Newser) – The last living crew member of the aircraft carrier that led the original hunt for Amelia Earhart died last month in California at the age of 99, only a few days shy of the 78th anniversary of the doomed search. The USS Lexington, on which Walter Kastner did administrative and clerical work, helped search an area the size of Texas at the cost of $250,000 per day to no avail, reports Time. Earhart and her navigator went missing while on their way from New Guinea to Howland Island in July 1937. The search ran for 16 days and was staffed by nine ships, 66 aircraft, and more than 3,000 sailors and airmen; they found nothing.

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Kastner, who enlisted in the military only because he couldn't afford medical school, remembered the search for Earhart well and was interviewed for an upcoming book on the pilot prior to his death. His son-in-law told the Tribune that Kastner was frustrated about the fruitlessness of the search, which was hampered by inclement weather. Kastner served 30 months on the USS Lexington before getting married and settling in California, according to his obituary. (A Washington state man say he may have been handed "the key to the Earhart mystery.)