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NEWS | April 14, 2023

Bartlett High School JROTC Takes Flight With Alaska Army National Guard

By Robert DeBerry Alaska National Guard Public Affairs


Sgt. Jake Marshall with the Alaska Army National Guard 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion gives a safety briefing to a group of Bartlett High School Junior ROTC students April 12, 2023, at Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Thirty-six students flew on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter as part of a recruitment and community outreach event. (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)
 
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska - Thirty-six Bartlett High School Army Junior ROTC students jumped on an Alaska Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and proceeded to rip up Arctic Valley giving the students a flight they won’t soon forget, if ever. For most on board, it was their first time in a helicopter. The event was especially memorable since it was the helicopter that was used to extricate the infamous Into the Wild Bus on June 18, 2020.

The purpose of the orientation flight was to give the JROTC students a real-life experience with the Alaska Army National Guard and provide an opportunity for students to ask questions and learn about opportunities and benefits of joining the Guard.


The CH-47 used to fly a group of Bartlett High School Junior ROTC students up Arctic Valley April 12, 2023, is decorated with a Out of the Wild picture signifying it was the helicopter used to pull the infamous bus made famous by the Jon Krakauer book ‘Into the Wild.’  (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)

“We wanted to give them an overview of what aviation does, what our capabilities are and hopefully interest them in joining the Guard,” said Staff Sgt. Chase Kaschnigg with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion for the Alaska Army National Guard.

Kaschnigg said getting educators, counselors, administrators, anyone in an ROTC program and Military Youth Academy up on flights highlights what the Guard does and who they are as opposed to how they are depicted by the news media.
 

Bartlett High School Junior ROTC students listen to Alaska Army National Guard Sgt. Zach Adams talk about what they will experience during their CH-47 Chinook flight April 12, 2023, at Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)
 
“They gave us an awesome experience flying up Arctic Valley in a CH-47,” said Bartlett JROTC instructor, retired Lt. Col. Vern Randall. “I think they really enjoyed it. I’ve seen nothing but grins and giggles as they came off that aircraft.”

Bartlett senior Katlyn Olexa and freshman Brody Mayo were still smiling 30 minutes after their flight as they stood around in the hanger laughing with other students.

“We went on a helicopter and flew in the mountains,” said Olexa as she bounced up and down smiling from ear to ear. “It was amazing and definitely a lifetime experience.”


Bartlett High School Junior ROTC students board an Alaska Army National Guard 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion CH-47 Chinook helicopter with for their flight April 12, 2023, at Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)
 
Learning more about the Guard was not lost on her. She is already signed up and ready to start once she graduates. She said that she needed a way to pay for school and wanted a secure job, both things the Guard offers.

For Mayo the flight solidified his choice to join the service.

“I think it was awesome. I was at the end of the helicopter looking down at the ground and the mountains and I was thinking, ‘man does the Army sound fun,’” he said.


Bartlett High School Junior ROTC member Peter Adsuna reacts with surprise as the CH-47 Chinook takes off from Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson April 12, 2023. (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)
 
Mayo said he figured he would get to fly once he went in the service but never this soon.

“It was a big surprise,” he said.

Randall said JROTC encourages the idea of enlisting and serving.
 
“We want them to find some way to become a better citizen,” he said. “We think that service to our country, service in the military is one of the ways they can do that.”


Students with the Bartlett High School Junior ROTC program sit on board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter April 12, 2023, at Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Thirty-six students flew up Arctic Valley with the Alaska Army National Guard 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion as part of a recruitment and community outreach event. (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)
 
Randall said the partnership between JROTC, the Anchorage School District and the National Guard is something that needs to continue because it is a great way to show students their own potential and what is possible.


Sgt. Jake Marshall, left, with the Alaska Army National Guard 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, and retired Lt. Col. Vern Randall stand by as Bartlett High School Junior ROTC member Alexander Slaten gives the thumbs up after a CH-47 Chinook flight April 12, 2023, at Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.  (Alaska National Guard photo by Robert DeBerry)
 
 “It is amazing what these young people can do for their community once they realize the opportunities they have and the effect they can have on other people,” he said.  “At Bartlett, we are a family of life-long learners and teaching these kids to take care of their own families. Take care of the people they live with. It just goes round and round and works together.”
 
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