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NEWS | Aug. 21, 2023

Alaska National Guard Rescues Two Hunters After Plane Crash

By Sgt. Seth LaCount, 134th Public Affairs Detachment

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - The Alaska Army National Guard rescued two hunters 15 miles north of Chakachamna Lake near Merrill Pass Aug. 16.

The Alaska Rescue Coordination Center asked the Guard for assistance after receiving a call from a good Samaritan aviator who spotted the hunters’ downed aircraft while flying in the vicinity. The RCC confirmed the incident after one of the hunters contacted the RCC via an InReach satellite phone.

Aircrew assigned to Golf Company, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion, departed from Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in a hoist-capable HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter at about 4 p.m. The crew included two pilots, a crew chief and flight medic.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bradley Jorgensen, pilot in command, said two hunters were taking off in a fixed-wing aircraft when they abruptly crashed at the north side of a landing strip. The plane was no longer air-worthy and left the hunters stranded.

After the 90-mile flight west from JBER, the National Guard flight crew landed on the south side of the landing strip to evacuate the two men.

“Our flight medic Sgt. Matthew Tucker was the first Soldier on ground and conducted a routine medical check on the two hunters,” said Jorgensen. “No first aid was required.”

The aircrew flew the hunters to the Birchwood Airport in Chugiak, where Alaska State Troopers met them. 

Jorgensen said the rescue took about two hours. He said good visibility, accurate information and coordination from the RCC contributed to the mission’s success.

“Our coordination with the RCC has become streamlined in a way that makes these missions routine and effective,” said Jorgensen. “The beauty of the InReach device is it allows us to pinpoint individuals and their exact location with little effort and allows us to respond quickly.”