JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –
Alaska Army National Guard’s G Company, 2nd Battalion, 211th General Support Aviation Battalion rescued two hikers at Hatcher Pass, June 7.
The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a mission support request from the Alaska State Troopers at 12:11 p.m. concerning hikers in the vicinity of Gold Mint Trail. One hiker was injured and unable to walk.
Capt. Matthew Bryan, a controller at the AKRCC, said it was likely that a hoist rescue would be needed due to snow coverage still in the area. That coupled with a low ceiling of cloud coverage made G Company’s medevac capabilities well suited to the mission.
An HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crew received the mission and took off from Bryant Army Airfield at 1:20 p.m.
According to Bryan, the crew had trouble locating the hikers because of the challenging weather. Fortunately, the two hikers had a GPS communication device which they used to communicate with the AKRCC when they sited the Black Hawk flying overhead.
“The hikers had prepared and equipped themselves for worst-case scenarios,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nick Fussner, the pilot in command of the mission. “If it came to it, they were ready to shelter in place, and that puts a lot less risk on us for the rescue.”
The crew landed 50 yards away from the hikers and transported them to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center at 2:22 p.m.
Fussner stressed the importance of GPS communication devices and other contingency plans while engaging in outdoor activities across Alaska.
For this rescue mission, the AKRCC and 207th AVN received credit for two saves.