by Alan Brown
The Alaska Army National Guard rescued two overdue snow machiners suffering from severe frostbite near Tuntutuliak, Feb. 14, 2023.
After learning the two men were overdue, the Alaska State Troopers requested assistance from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The AKRCC then sought assistance from the Alaska Army National Guard who currently has a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter at its aviation facility in Bethel.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Kruse, pilot in command, the aircrew picked up Alaska State Trooper Zachary Huckstep before beginning the search in the vicinity of Tuntutuliak about 35 miles southwest of Bethel.
Huckstep, who also serves part time in the Alaska National Guard, is one of the troopers assigned to Bethel and is familiar with the area where the two men were last reported.
Kruse, Huckstep, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Morgan Osborn, co-pilot, and Staff Sgt. Caleb Henry, crew chief, searched the area until they found the first man near the mouth of the Johnson River.
The crew landed nearby and assisted the man into the helicopter for the flight back to Bethel where they released him to a local emergency medical services team before continuing the search for the second man.
In the meantime, Kruse said, a search and rescue team from Tuntutuliak located the remaining man and brought him back to the town. Due to the severity of his injuries, the AKNG aircrew transported him to a waiting EMS team in Bethel. Both men received treatment at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital in Bethel.
The Alaska Army National Guard currently has a UH-60L Black Hawk stationed in Bethel for training and familiarizing aircrews with flying in the region. The helicopter will be available to assist in emergency situations as requested by the AKRCC or the Alaska Emergency Operations Center and subject to available aircrew.
Alan Brown writes from Alaska National Guard Public Affairs.