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 | April 20, 2023

Alaska Army National Guard HH-60 hoists injured backcountry skier off Girdwood mountainside

By Alan Brown Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

The Alaska Army National Guard conducted a mid-mountain, hoist rescue of an injured backcountry skier near Girdwood, April 19, 2023, after receiving the mission request from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.
Air crew assigned to Golf Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion accepted the mission and departed from Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in a hoist-capable HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter specially designed for medical evacuations.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 JD Miller, pilot in command for the mission, said four backcountry skiers were traversing a ridgeline above Virgin Creek when an avalanche broke loose pulling one skier down the mountainside.  Miller estimated the skier slid 800 to 1000 feet, finally coming to rest on a 30-degree slope.
The remaining three skiers skied down to their friend to begin first aid and called for help using a satellite communications device, he said. The Alaska State Troopers received the notification and contacted the AKRCC for assistance. 
After the 14-minute flight from JBER, the hoist operator Staff Sgt. Sonny Cooper lowered flight medic, Sgt. Matthew Tucker, and rescue hoist operator, Sgt. 1st Class Brad McKenzie, down to the group of skiers on a tandem hoist.
“I inserted Tucker and McKenzie down to the injury, and they took shovels and a picket with them to use an anchor for the litter,” said Cooper.
Tucker said he immediately began rendering aid to the patient while McKenzie and the remaining skiers began clearing a safe workspace to keep anyone from sliding further down the mountain.
Once the team loaded the patient into the litter, Cooper hoisted it up to the helicopter while McKenzie used a separate line from the ground to keep the litter from spinning out of control during the ascent. 
Miller said the rescue – to include the rescue crew insertion, first aid, and hoisting the patient and crew back into the helicopter – took about 30 minutes.
The air crew flew the patient to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where he was released to medical providers.
Miller said good visibility, accurate information from the rescue site and focused, scenario-driven training all contributed to the mission’s success.
“We knew right off the bat exactly what we needed to do,” said Cooper.  “We knew what equipment we needed.  We knew the sequence of events, and all of us had trained together on this specific scenario.  It left very little to have to figure out on scene.” 
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