The continuous 24-hour operational readiness exercise, Polar Force 13-3, came to a close Monday after a week of evaluating Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Air Forces deployment capabilities, despite weather complications.
Next week is a big week in our house. Our first out-of-town guests of the year will arrive. The timing works out so that we will have multiple visitors at once. My in-laws will be flying in from Tennessee. They are coming to watch my kids while I take a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. They will arrive about a week before I leave so that I can spend some time with them, too. Plus a college friend who is currently stationed at Ft. Wainwright will be driving down for his extended weekend.
After getting shot in Afghanistan, the combat engineer spent six months at a military hospital in Germany, where he underwent the transformation from a “10-foot tall and bulletproof” paratrooper into someone with a new appreciation for the daily battles fought far from the front lines of war.
A pilot from Eagle River has reached new heights in his career with the U.S. Air Force. Lt. Col. Rob “Grinch” Finch is commander of the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2009.
The first day of spring conjures up specific thoughts for me. Crocus and tulip blossoms. Rain, lots and lots of rain. Everything being green and damp. A farewell to temperatures below freezing. Time for planting and playing in the garden. Alaska very much challenges that definition of spring. Snow covers my yard, keeping spring flowers in hibernation and keeping me from my garden. The world seems white and blue with the snow abounding and crisp, clear, blue skies overhead. And the temperature is still falling below freezing daily. However, the calendar says that today is a spring day. So what does spring in Alaska mean?
Loud barks could be heard yards away as 673d Security Forces Squadron dog handlers prepared their assigned dogs for standard dog training at the Eagleglen golf course on JBER.
The snow is melting. The sun is shining overhead, instead of way off on the Southern horizon. Temperatures are getting warmer, and days longer. Birds are chirping cheerful tunes. I hear rumors that the bears might be wakening from hibernation. Spring is on its way. This is the time of year proper housewives begin the feared Spring Cleaning.
For Army Staff Sergeant Justin Grimm, getting shot at is all in a day’s work. “When you sign up for a job that you’re going to fight in and you deploy enough, you get the sense that it’s going to happen sooner or later,” said Grimm, a member of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
When we found out we were moving to Alaska, I started making a list of all the things I wanted to do in the last frontier. Some things on the list were easily conquered on the drive to Anchorage. Not long after getting off the boat in Haines, we saw bald eagles in numbers never seen in the Lower 48. We may have passed other glaciers without knowing they were there, but I was able to cross off “seeing my first glacier” as we drove past Matanuska. The list grew after our arrival as I learned about all Alaska has to offer. Just the drive from Palmer into Anchorage gave inspiration, with signs pointing out Mirror Lake and Thunderbird Falls.
On June 1, 2012 Sgt. Maj. Michael Van Engen had just finished eating lunch in the mess hall at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Southern Afghanistan when all hell broke loose.