An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | July 13, 2022

Arctic Guardian chosen as Air National Guard's top military firefighter

By David Bedard , 176th Wing Public Affairs

The National Guard Bureau recognized a 176th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter as the 2021 National Guard military firefighter of the year.

Master Sgt. Tyler Larimer, 176th CES chief of training, said Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Brenden Turney, 176th CES firefighter and station captain, earned the award because he embodies the image of a well-rounded firefighter.

“The things that go into the award very much reflect our career field,” Larimer said. “We have many aspects to our job, which includes operations, administration, training and readiness. All of those things have to tie together to make us successful as a department. The reason we put Turney up for this award is because he really does show exemplary performance in all four categories.”

Turney, a native of Anchorage, said he earned the award serving as a traditional part-time Guardsman working as a firefighter who is trained to respond to everything from a kitchen fire to an airplane crash.

“In military firefighting, we do it all,” he said. “We go through Fire Fighter I and II [instruction], which comprises the fundamentals of structural firefighting and general firefighting, and then we earn our ARFF certification, which stands for airport rescue firefighting, that specifically applies to firefighting techniques for airframes.”

Turney said airfield firefighting is especially exciting and challenging because of the unique nature of tactical aircraft.

“You’re dealing with some extreme hazards,” he said. “There’s fuel involved. There’s munitions involved. You’re working to protect people who are in serious danger – a danger that can develop very rapidly. There are no simple answers on how to perform a rescue here.”

Another aspect that makes Turney a well-rounded firefighter, Larimer said, is his many different experiences working with other departments in Alaska’s civil sector as well as military departments overseas.

“Every department has its own culture,” he said. “Each location has its own unique responses, its own unique hazards, and they have unique tools to respond to what they have in their jurisdiction. I get to experience different versions of this job, which enables me to have a bigger toolset and to be able to teach more, do more and to have different options when responding to a real emergency.”

Larimer said Turney also earned high marks for his leadership, a notion echoed by the young noncommissioned officer.

“My job, especially as a new supervisor and NCO is to lead my crew and take care of their needs,” he said. “My job is to be an expert in the field, and to find every way I can to apply what I have learned to support the mission.”

As well-received as the award is, Turney said the ultimate prize lies at the end of his pursuit of a full-time firefighter job. Though curiosity of military service brought him to the Air National Guard, his ultimate goal is to join a fire department.

“I wanted to serve,” Turney said. “I am very curious about experiences, and the only way to satisfy those curiosities is to experience them.”

He said his goal really came into focus after earning his Emergency Medical Technician qualification at a local university[ASB1] [ASB2] .

“From there, it was a matter of figuring out how to put this skill to work,” he said. “I looked at local volunteer opportunities. I applied with the local fire department. It didn’t all work out right away, but I really wanted to pursue this.”

Fortunately, a friend told Turney he could get the training and experience he was looking for in the National Guard.

“It’s unique in that you are fully supported while you pursue the training,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about anything else; you are 100 percent focused.”

Larimer said, since Turney joined the 176th CES, he has gone after every available deployment and temporary duty assignment, including a six-month stint with the JBER Fire Department. Additionally, Turney volunteers with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, which performs high-angle rescues throughout the Alaska back country.

Turney said, though he wasn’t seeking recognition, he was pleased to get the nod as top military firefighter.

“I don’t pursue awards like this intentionally, but I see it as a gauge that I’m doing my job well, because everyone wants to feel like they’re doing good work,” he said.

Alaska Military Youth Academy Career Work Experience program gives cadets a head start with job training and skills
June 8, 2023
Alaska Military Youth Academy cadet Jackie Tinker uses a hand torch to solder a piece of copper pipe during a Career Work Experience program class at Alaska Works Partnership in Anchorage June 01, 2023.

Adjutant General’s Match brings state’s top marksman to Fort Wainwright
June 8, 2023
Alaska Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Travis Hall, 49th Missile Defense Battalion (GMD), fires a M110 A1 Marksman Rifle as AKARNG Maj. James Goddard, officer in charge of the TAG Match, acts as a range safety at the Fort Wainwright Range Complex June 4, 2023. The TAG Match is an annual marksmanship competition designed to challenge and test basic shooting fundamentals.

USAACE tactics instructors and Alaska Army National Guardsmen look to build bridging solution for Army Aviation initiative
June 6, 2023
Chinook flying near Knik Glacier

Alaska Air Guardsmen assist National Park Service rescue of Denali climber
May 24, 2023
Alaska Air Guardsmen assist National Park Service rescue of Denali climber

Alaska National Guardsmen, State Defense Force deploy to Bethel, Circle to assist with flood recovery
May 23, 2023
Senior Airman Sean Lake, 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, loads gear at Eielson Air Force Base in preparation to help with debris-clearing operations in Circle, Alaska, May 23, 2023. Four Guardsmen and one member of the Alaska State Defense Force will assist with cleanup and flood recovery efforts at the request of the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center. (Alaska Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey)

Alaska's Best Warrior Competition Award Ceremony
May 21, 2023
Command Sgt. Maj. John Phlegar, left, the state command sergeant major of the Alaska Army National Guard, pins the Army Commendation Medal on the 2023 Soldier of the Year, Spc. Adam Macro, a military police Soldier from Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion during the Best Warrior Competition awards ceremony held at Camp Carroll, Alaska, May 21, 2023. Throughout the week of May 16, 2023, the Best Warrior Competition tested Soldiers on their physical and mental readiness as well as their knowledge of Army doctrine and common warrior tasks.

Alaska Army National Guard HH-60 hoists injured backcountry skier off Girdwood mountainside
April 20, 2023
On April 19, 2023, an avalanche broke loose at the top of a mountain near Girdwood, Alaska, pulling a backcountry skier 800 to 1000 feet down the face. The red box indicates the injured skier and rescue team. The Alaska Army National Guard’s Golf Company, 2-211th General Aviation Support Battalion received mission request from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and rescued the skier with a hoist-capable HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter specially designed for medical evacuations.

Bartlett High School JROTC Takes Flight With Alaska Army National Guard
April 14, 2023
Bartlett High School JROTC Takes Flight with Alaska Army National Guard

National Guard, tribal consortium team up in St. Mary’s, Western Alaska
April 6, 2023
Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Sharon Queenie, a surveillance technician with the 176th Air Defense Squadron, gives a presentation to students from her hometown of St. Mary’s, Alaska, during a recruiting initiative in partnership with the Association of Village Council Presidents at the Andreafski High School, March 31, 2023. The Association of Village Council Presidents recently partnered with the Alaska National Guard to provide recruiting information and resources through their Tribal Job Centers. The initiative kicked off in St. Mary’s with presentations from AVCP and AKNG, where representatives interacted with students, parents, teachers, and community members. AVCP provides community development, education, social services, culturally relevant programs, and advocacy for the people and 56 tribes of Western Alaska.

Alaska Air Guardsmen medevac patient from Little Diomede
April 5, 2023
Alaska Air Guardsmen medevac patient from Little Diomede