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NEWS | May 20, 2022

Alaska Guard Soldier, Airmen help rescue plane crash victims

By David Bedard, 176th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Two Airmen and an Alaska Army National Guard Soldier helped rescue two plane crash victims near Goose Bay Airport west of Anchorage May 16.

Alaska Army National Guard Spc. Zach Cherry, 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, spotted the wreckage of a Taylorcraft F-19 while flying his Cessna 140 and called the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Steven Borcherding, 176th Maintenance Squadron, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Lawrie, 3rd Maintenance Squadron, and Borcherding’s father, Steven Borcherding Sr., were flying the Borcherdings’ Cessna 180 in the area when Cherry called them for additional assistance.

“[Cherry] said he thought there may be a downed aircraft and to try and call someone,” Borcherding said. “I immediately called Anchorage Approach Control and informed them of a possible crash. I informed the controller there was a Taylorcraft-type aircraft flipped upside down on the flats just before the approach end of Runway 26 at Goose Bay Airport.”

Borcherding said he informed the controller there were two survivors on the aircraft wing and that his party was going to land to provide as much assistance as possible.

After landing nearby, Borcherding said he called the Anchorage Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility with a new report.

“I informed them that both survivors made it to the beach OKand we were going to find a way down to the beach,” he said. “They informed us Alaska State Troopers and medical personnel were en route.”

The survivors identified themselves as a flight instructor and a pilot. As the instructor was the more injured of the two, the Borcherdings and Lawrie gave her direct assistance.

“Sgt. Lawrie and I [each] took an arm and started walking with her to higher ground,” Borcherding said. “She could not move very fast, and the ground beneath her was silt, so it was very slippery and uneven.”

They met state troopers on the beach about a quarter-mile away and continued to the trailhead, safe from the rapidly rising tide.

According to an Alaska State Troopers' news release, the Central Matanuska-Susitna Fire Department performed a high-angle rope rescue to hoist the instructor. She was taken to a Matanuska-Susitna area hospital for minor injuries. The pilot was able to hike to a landing near the airport and departed the scene without requiring medical treatment. The plane was carried out with the tide and has not been recovered.