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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.

Every Saturday, Sarah Jane Coffman visits Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River — a place she called home while serving a 14-year sentence for second-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

While walking the halls of the prison reminds Coffman of her checkered past, it also reminds her what enabled her to endure her sentence — music.

Dr. Jim Browder isn’t afraid to think big.

The new Anchorage School District superintendent shared his lofty goals for the state’s largest district during an energetic address to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 7 at Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River. Among the most ambitious plans Dr. Browder shared was his goal to have the state offer high school students free “dual enrollment” in college course while they’re still in high school.

“Providing that for any Alaskan that’s in high school would really help us as a state,” Browder said.

Thank you.

It’s a simple message, but an important one to relay to our country’s service members — especially for Eagle River High.

With nearly half its students from military families, the school held its annual Veterans Day luncheon Friday, Nov. 9.

Speaking to a large crowd in the gym, principal Marty Lang thanked the service members and their families for the sacrifices they make.

“The job you do inspires us to do our job better,” he said.

Anchorage Police Lt. Dave Parker said this morning that the Anchorage Fire Department’s Eagle River Station 11 ladder truck was involved in a traffic accident at around 10 a.m. on the Glenn Highway.

According to Parker, the truck was hit after a Chevy Monte Carlo lost control, hit an Anchorage School District van, then collided with the fire truck. Parker said two people in the Monte Carlo were transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries after being extricated from the Monte Carlo by firefighters on the scene.

Ask any service member who’s been deployed what they miss most while overseas — family undoubtedly tops that list.

But what’s life like for that same family still on base?

In just three days, you’ll find out.

Inside of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, cameras followed seven wives of paratroopers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division during their recent deployment to Afghanistan. “Married to the Army: Alaska” premiers Sunday, Nov. 18 on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Eagle River’s ladder truck will continue to serve the community, rescued from budget cuts by public outcry and political compromise.

On Tuesday night (Nov. 13), the Anchorage Assembly unanimously approved the municipality’s operating budget for 2013, which includes Anchorage Fire Department funding for Truck 11 in Eagle River and its crew.

Mayor Dan Sullivan had proposed shutting down Eagle River’s engine. A similar proposal surfaced in 2010.

Brett Wood scored 55 seconds into the third period to lift Eagle River hockey past Chugiak 4-3 on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the McDonald Center — stretching the Wolves’ undefeated streak against their rival to five games.

Eagle River is now 4-0-1 against Chugiak over the past three seasons. The two don’t meet again until the final game of the regular season Jan. 26, 2013.

It’s pageant time.

The 2013 Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 at Mirror Lake Middle School. This year’s event features nine local contestants, who will compete for the title of Miss Chugiak-Eagle River and Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Outstanding Teen.

This year’s pageant theme is “Proud to be an American.”

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