Military News

Jumping from the tail of an HC-130 into the dark frigid night, two elite pararescuemen of the Alaska Air National Guard felt their parachutes deploy, before descending safely to frozen ground 160-miles north of the Arctic Circle.

A few hours earlier, pararescuemen Air Force master sergeants Roger Sparks and Brandon Stuemke were spending time with their families on what seemed to be a typical October Sunday night, when the phone rang.

Described as a “soldier’s soldier” by a member of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Private 1st Class Vincent Ellis was killed in action protecting his fellow “Spartans.”

While deployed in Afghanistan, Ellis suffered a knee injury and was reassigned to Forward Operating Base Salerno for rehabilitation. When the base was attacked June 1, Ellis — restricted to a brace and crutches — didn’t hesitate.

The Alaskan mid-October weather is surprisingly nice as a man stands face to face with a moose. In most cases, such a situation could easily become dangerous. Both appear introverted and timid, keeping some distance. The man turns his back on the large animal, which then approaches him. It rests its head on his shoulder and the invisible barrier between them breaks.

The impact is significant; the man is a Soldier visiting an Alaska reindeer farm as part of a trip arranged by his unit in Hawaii.

Soldiers and Airmen gathered together inside Hangar 1 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Oct. 12 to recognize the contributions made by the Hispanic community in the course of American history.

The event is an annual coordinated effort between the Army and Air Force equal opportunity offices on JBER as a capstone event to National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The national observance is part of an official proclamation approved by Congress and signed into law by the president officially assigning Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as the period of Hispanic heritage awareness.

About 300 paratroopers from the Army's 4th Bridgade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division — the "Spartans" — arrived at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson early Thursday morning after a 10-month mission to Afghanistan.

The plane load of soldiers was the first "main body" transport to arrive at JBER. Combined with several advance flights that arrived earlier this fall, the most recent redeployment brings the total number of troops back in Alaska to 800 of the 3,500-soldier brigade.

After 10 months spent giving orders to 3,500 soldiers, Col. Morris Goins knows exactly how he’ll spend his first night home.

“Having a quiet dinner with the boss lady is what I plan to do,” said Goins, the commander of the Army’s 4th Brigade Combad Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Air Force Airman Joshua M. Echols, of Chugiak, graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Echols completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Echols is the son of Leslie Echols of Chugiak. He graduated from a home school program in 2011.

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