Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1-52 General Support Aviation Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade were on a training mission Halloween night when they got the notification that several people were hurt in an isolated part of northwestern Alaska. They quickly returned to base to prep their helicopter for a medical evacuation.

Three teenagers in Chalkyitsik, a small village with a population of just a few dozen people, located approximately 45 miles northeast of Fort Yukon, had been injured in a snowmachine accident that night. Family contacted the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center. Chalkyitsik is not located along a major road, so when the incident occurred, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center contacted the Army. The soldiers sent are part of the Army’s only active-duty aeromedical evacuation unit in the state.

“Here in Alaska, more often than not, there is some type of complication during MEDEVAC calls; this mission was no different. The crew worked together, along with various [air traffic control] facilities, to ensure our patients received the medical attention they need,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Johnathan Horvath, the medical evacuation mission’s commander said in a statement to the Army. 

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The helicopter crew flew northeast. They encountered poor visibility and some rough weather — night time in Alaska can produce some very cold and wet conditions — but arrived at the rescue site soon after 1 a.m. on Nov. 1. The soldiers quickly assessed the patients and loaded them on board. Nearly two hours later the soldiers and teenagers, along with some parents, landed at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where the injured teens were taken inside for care.

Due to Alaska’s terrain and climate, as well as how remote some towns can be, the Army and National Guard often provide search and rescue teams to help find missing people. Sometimes that can be finding missing hikers, other times it can be recovering people from a plane crash, sometimes two on the same day. This year over the Fourth of July weekend, the Army and Air National Guard flew several missions to rescue 10 people in four separate instances

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