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 | Dec. 28, 2022

Alaska Air Guardsmen overcome extreme elements to medevac pregnant woman Christmas Eve

By Maj. Chelsea Aspelund , 176th Wing Public Affairs

Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing raced against time and overcame high winds to medevac a pregnant woman in distress Dec 24 at Shaktoolik approximately 32 miles northwest of Unalakleet.
Late Christmas Eve, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center received a call for assistance from Alaska Native Medical Center after civilian air ambulances were unable to medevac a patient experiencing pregnancy complications at the clinic in Shaktoolik.
“Crosswinds at the unattended, gravel air strip in Shaktoolik and surrounding airfields were gusting in excess of 35 knots,” said Maj. Paul Rauenhorst, the search and rescue duty officer for the mission. “While this exceeds weather limitations for civil air ambulance, the HH-60 is capable of hovering into and safely landing in extremely high winds.”
The AKRCC coordinated with the 176th Wing to dispatch a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with a 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team, consisting of a combat rescue officer or pararescueman team lead, and an additional pararescuemen, on board each aircraft.
“ANMC reported that the patient was losing blood, so we immediately contacted our mission support team to coordinate a blood pickup from the 673d Medical Group,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Bowerfind, the lead pararescuemen on the mission.
En route to Shaktoolik, the HC-130 provided helicopter air-to-air refueling, weather reconnaissance and remained overhead until the HH-60 was safely on the ground.
Inside the clinic, the pararescue team joined medical personnel to provide intravenous fluids and the critical blood transfusion protocol. 
“This is the first time that the 212th Rescue Squadron has administered a blood transfusion in support of Alaska civil search and rescue missions,” Bowerfind said.
After determining the patient was stable and bleeding had subsided, the Guardian Angel team prepared for transport while continuing to administer blood and monitor vitals.  

Meanwhile, the HC-130 flew to Unalakleet to survey the field for a possible transload location.  Upon arrival, the crew determined the crosswinds were out of limits for a safe landing and concluded McGrath would be a safer alternative.
“While the [Guardian Angel] team transported the patient into the Pave Hawk, the aircrew verified the winds and reported a 70-knot headwind back to JBER,” Rauenhorst said. “This affirmed our decision to conduct a patient transload at an airfield west of the mountain range.”
The HC-130 is capable of higher groundspeeds and can fly above terrain that the HH-60 would need to navigate more slowly.
In McGrath, the Guardian Angel team transloaded the patient to the HC-130 and flew to JBER where the patient was released to an Anchorage Fire Department ambulance and taken to ANMC Christmas morning.
“This mission was truly one of those ‘only in Alaska’ moments,” said Bowerfind. “The patient was surrounded by family as the entire village showed up to offer help; from vehicle transport to and from the helicopter to safe movement across the ice. It truly takes a village.”
For this medevac, the AK RCC, 210th RQS, 211th and 212th RQS received credit for one save.
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