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 Naval Militia, U.S. Navy Reserve pay tribute to S-26 submariners
January 24, 2024
In a solemn gathering at the U.S. Navy Reserve Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, sailors from the Alaska Naval Militia and U.S. Navy Reserve assembled Jan. 24, to pay homage to their fallen comrades lost 82 years ago.

Aircraft maintenance Airmen critical part of Pave Hawk transport mission
January 11, 2024
Airmen from the Alaska Air National Guard 176th Aircraft Maintenance from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and the active duty 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan, conducted a joint operation to transport an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from Bethel to JBER in early January 2024.

Alaska National Guard's Operation Santa Claus spreads holiday cheer to remote communities
December 5, 2023
Alaska Air National Guard pilots 1st Lt. Skylar Caldwell, left, and Capt. Gerren Blair, and loadmaster, Tech Sgt. John Teamer II, enjoy time with Santa and Mrs. Claus while flying the festive couple to Bethel during Operation Santa Claus Nov. 15, 2023.

Alaska Military Youth Academy honored with Gold Pan Award
November 22, 2023
The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce hosted the 66th Annual Gold Pan Awards on Nov. 17, 2023, at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage.

Alaska National Guard's Operation Santa Claus makes a lifesaving detour
November 16, 2023
From the left, Holly Demert and Clifton Dalton, both flight paramedics with LifeMed, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bryan Kruse, Bethel Army Aviation Operating Facility commander, move a critically ill patient from an AKARNG UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter to an ambulance during a medical evacuation from Napaskiak to Bethel, Nov. 15, 2023

Cadets soar in Civil Air Patrol search and rescue exercise
November 13, 2023
Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Stephen Sammons, left, Alaska Wing emergency services officer, instructs CAP cadets from the Southcentral Region where to find an Emergency Locator Transmitter onboard a Cessna 172 aircraft during a three-day training event Nov. 4, 2023, at the Birchwood Airport in Chugiak, Alaska.

A new set of cross pistols: AKARNG "Wolf Gang" Military Police Company deactivates, ushering in new detachment
November 3, 2023
Alaska Army National Guard Capt. Michael Thrall, left, outgoing commander, and 1st Sgt. Bethany Amarone, outgoing noncommissioned officer in charge, both assigned to the 297th Military Police Company, retire the colors of the unit’s flag as part of a deactivation ceremony for the company at the Alcantra Armory in Wasilla, Alaska, Nov. 2, 2023.

Alaska Army National Guard’s Bison Company set to deploy to Middle East
September 30, 2023
Alaska Army National Guard 1st Sgt. Oliver Meza, Bravo Company first sergeant, shows off his unit’s patch during a deployment ceremony where family members, friends, and fellow Guardsmen came together to pay tribute to Soldiers of B Co., 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, at the Alaska National Guard Armory on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Sept. 29, 2023.

910th Engineer Support Company constructs their skills
August 21, 2023
Alaska Army National Guard Sgt. David Kocur, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to the 910th Engineer Support Company, operates a grader to create a broad flat foundation on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 8, 2023.

176th Wing firefighters protect Nenana from wildfires
August 21, 2023
176th Wing firefighters protect Nenana from wildfires