Military life can be difficult. This is especially true in Alaska, where the majority of incoming servicemen and women hail from the Lower 48. Many find themselves ill prepared for the weather, the long seize of winter darkness and the hefty cost of living.
It is the beginning of a brand new year. Generally, I love this time of year. I look out at a blank slate in which I have 12 months to try to do things better, and in which I get to plan all sorts of new adventures. This year, I’m having a hard time when I begin to think too far out.
Dozens gathered at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 14 to pay homage to the soldiers who died while serving our country. Seven wreaths were placed in honor of those who served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and for prisoners of war/missing in action. Following that ceremony, volunteers laid wreaths at several graves.
Christmas is drawing near. This year, I have a quandary. Most presents have been bought, and many already have been wrapped and are stored temptingly under the tree. I had thought the ones left unwrapped were well hidden. That was until the day I left the boys at home by themselves.
Alaska Air National Guard 212 rescue squadron members Maj. Matthew Komatsu, Chief Master Sgt. Paul Barendregt, Master Sgt. Kyle Minshew and Senior Airman Andrew Nichols were honored with Bronze Stars for acts of heroic rescue and bravery at an award ceremony on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Friday, Dec. 7.
Thanksgiving has past, and we are officially in the Christmas season. I love Christmas — the lights, the carols, the decorations, the snow and Santa Claus. It’s my favorite time of year. However, with weddings and vacations to visit the sun, I have not yet been able to fully get into the spirit of the season here in Eagle River. We have decorated and done all our usual family traditions, but have missed out on all the local holiday activities.
When Sgt. 1st Class John Kerns saw a vehicle veer off Interstate 95 in North Carolina and smash into a tree, he didn’t think. He just reacted. Kerns pulled the incapacitated driver from the burning vehicle minutes before its gas tank exploded. Kerns even grabbed the man’s Blackberry so he wouldn’t lose all of his contacts.
Paratroopers with the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment welcomed one of their own as they celebrated their storied unit’s service and history. Vincent Speranza, an 88-year-old World War II veteran who fought with the regiment in the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne, Belgium, was the unit’s honored guest for a two-day area of operation tour complete with a head-table seat at this year’s regimental ball two weeks ago.
I have found it difficult to get involved in local politics since my husband joined the Army. I remember the first election after Chase went to basic training. It was a mayoral election. There were pros to each candidate, and there were a lot of cons to each candidate.