There’s a pair of new generals on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson after a pair of change of command ceremonies in recent weeks. Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell J. Handy became the commander of Alaskan Command (ALCOM) in an Aug. 9 ceremony. As commander, he’ll be in charge of the more than 26,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors and reservists stationed in Alaska.
Last summer my daughter won a Kindle Fire from Alaska USA. It was from one of those booths at fairs and community events on post. Then last fall my son won a gift card at a welcome back 4-25 event put on by Mark Begich. Between those events, my faith in being able to win raffles and drawings hit an all time high.
A young man by the name of Ollie Plunket recently decided to take a seven-month motorcycle ride for charity. The mission of this 18-year-old from Buckingham, England, was to help military members and their families get the care and support they need overseas. He was raising money for the newly built Fisher House, the only one in the United Kingdom, which opened in June.
Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and the Australian Army participated in a parachute badge exchange ceremony on Pershing Field on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson July 15. The ceremony was done to show JBER Soldiers performed and met the Australian airborne qualifications.
I recently went to my first Alaska Baseball League game, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots vs. the Mat-Su Miners at Mulcahy Stadium. It had been a while since I had taken the kids to a baseball game, and I had forgotten just how much going to one can be.
For about 400 Spartans, Thursday, July 18 was one long day. Paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division — nicknamed the “Spartans” — spent several hours simulating all aspects of a jump from a C-17 before loading onto aircraft and making the 20-hour nonstop flight to Australia.
In late May, Air Force Band of the Pacific members packed their bags and said farewell to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The Band of the Pacific provided musical support from their rock, jazz and ceremonial orchestra groups to civilians and military members on and off JBER for many events, such as memorial services and seasonal performances.
Before Alaska I never had to think about wildlife in my neighborhood. Yes, there was an aggressive duck once. And one neighborhood was right on the edge of mountain lion territory, but they kept to their side of the highway and we kept to ours. All in all, my kids and my dogs could play in the yard, and my family could take walks wherever and whenever we wanted without thinking about what we might encounter.
In Iraq they were inseparable, a daring duo whose mission was to seek out dangerous explosives hidden in the desert. But as often happens after a combat deployment, the two friends drifted apart. In the years following Iraq, new assignments and advancing age sent them down separate paths.
Today is the 4th of July. Independence Day is high up on my list of favorite holidays. I love the history of the American Revolution. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and company all fascinate me. The odds were formidable. Yet they put everything on the line to try to secure a better life for themselves and those yet to come. No, they didn’t do everything right. And no, they were not perfect people. But they came together and did something huge. They fought for and started the United States of America. This day celebrates that achievement. Plus, there are always cool fireworks. To be honest, my love of the holiday is mostly about the fireworks.