JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Alaska Air National Guardsmen of the 176th Wing partnered with good Samaritans to rescue two distressed boaters early Oct. 10 at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River near Eek.
Alaska Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Evan Budd, Alaska Rescue Coordination Center superintendent, said Alaska State Troopers requested assistance after the boaters were reported overdue. The 176th Wing responded with Airmen of 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons launching from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on a 211th RQS HC-130J Combat King II.
The crew of the HC-130, a specialized search and rescue platform equipped with electro-optical/infrared sensors, located the boaters and radioed their position to a good Samaritan boat rescue crew.
“It’s incredible how often we get to count on the help of local good Samaritans to partner with us to help their fellow Alaskans,” Budd said. “It’s really appreciated.”
He said the boaters had informed others of their plans, which was critical because they reported them overdue quickly.
“Still, we recommend people carry a satellite communication device such as a personnel locator beacon when they go into the Alaska wilderness beyond cellphone range,” Budd said. “You can press the SOS button to inform a contact the moment you are in trouble, and we can home in on the signal to find you that much quicker.”
For the operation, 211th RQS, 212th RQS and the AKRCC were awarded two saves.