Military News

Ten days ago, Technical Sgt. Brian Stiles marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate the swearing in of President Barack Obama in front of thousands of spectators as a member of the 2013 Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C.

Just another day of work.

Stiles, a 1993 Chugiak High graduate, is a trumpeter in Ceremonial Brass — one of six United States Air Force bands.

Nearly 100 Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldiers are set to deploy in the next week or so for a nine-month tour in Afghanistan.

Their mission is anything but standard.

Typically tasked with construction — building roads, bridges, etc. — the 84th Engineer Support Company (Airborne), 6th Engineer Battalion will now be protecting such infrastructure. The 84th Engineer Support Company, whose nickname is the “Kodiaks,” will be responsible for finding and neutralizing improvised explosive devices.

The change in assignment is the first for the Kodiaks.

As another year passes, two load crews competed for pride and a plaque in the 3rd Wing Load Crew of the Quarter competition Jan. 4. The objective of the load competition was to test the abilities and work ethic of two or more load crews from different fighter squadrons.

The 90th and 525th aircraft maintenance units train consistently to be proficient at their jobs and to compete in quarterly loading competitions. The instructors of the load crew members strive to make sure their crew members are trained to keep the mission running smoothly.

UPDATE (Jan. 21, 10 a.m.): APD and JBER officials said Monday that Anchorage Police arrested a man who is a "person of interest" in the gate-crashing on Jan. 19 at around 7:15 p.m. in Eagle River on unrelated charges. The pick-up truck involved in the incident was located in Anchroage at around 11:50 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19.

A man driving a pick-up truck entered Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson early Saturday (Jan. 19) morning, led security officers on a 10-minute chase, then escaped by leaving base through the same gate he entered.

On Jan. 21, two Eagle River locals will travel down Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and White House as part of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade.

Bennett Hoback and Technical Sgt. Brian Stiles will be among those participating in the event in Washington, D.C.

Hoback, 17, will be riding with the Culver Military Academy Black Horse Troop. The 59-member boys unit will be joined by 24 of Culver’s Girls Academy Equestriennes.

Hoback, who attended Gruening Middle School, said he’s looking forward to his first trip to Washington, D.C.

KODIAK — The Royal Dutch Shell Arctic drilling rig Kulluk Salvage was hit with a storm New Years Eve that ran it onto an Alaska island and caused a power outage. The Kulluk is a circular drill barge that does not have propulsion, and needed heavy equipment to restore operational power. The U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, was able to support the civilian operations as well as military.

A C-5A Galaxy from Memphis Air National Guard Base, Tenn., needed to refuel to continue its mission across the Pacific theater. The aircraft landed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, a base strategically positioned to be a good breaking point for military and commercial flights enroute. The temperature averaged 11 degrees below zero - too cold to snow even though there had been a thick layer on the ground for days. Ice continually formed across the ground and all transportation surfaces.

Very few would want to be outside in this weather.

A soldier was found dead in another soldier’s barracks room on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Christmas Day.

The Army said PFC Grant W. Wise, 25, of Fairport, N.Y. was found with a single gunshot wound to the head and declared dead at around 7:45 a.m. on Dec. 25.

Wise, who joined the Army in 2011, was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. He served at Ft. Bragg, N.C. before being assigned to JBER in September 2012.

WASHINGTON — Truth is, retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf didn’t care much for his popular “Stormin’ Norman” nickname.

The seemingly no-nonsense Desert Storm commander’s reputed temper with aides and subordinates supposedly earned him that rough-and-ready moniker. But others around the general, who died Thursday in Tampa, Fla., at age 78 of complications from pneumonia, knew him as a friendly, talkative and even jovial figure who preferred the somewhat milder sobriquet given by his troops: “The Bear.”

Events in Afghanistan dominated military coverage in 2012, as a 3,500-member brigade spent much of the year in hostile territory. That group returned to Alaska in October. The year’s other big news on base came in May, when Gen. Michael Garrett took over command of the U.S. Army Alaska from Gen. Raymond Palumbo.

Here are the military stories the Star focused on in 2012: