At 4 a.m. on a Thursday, the sun was rising above the mountains as fire trucks lined the streets next to the fishing docks here May 24.
A mother and her daughter carrying signs of welcome positioned themselves behind the trucks and waited eagerly. They didn’t have to wait long; soon two shuttle buses arrived, escorted by police cars, carrying two loads of military troops.
Some had returned from deployment; others would soon be deploying. Their mission today: the Annual Armed Services Combat Fishing Tournament.
The U.S. Army said a 20-year-old paratrooper with the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division was killed and three others were wounded in an improvised exposive device attack on their Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle on June 9 in the city of Tore Obeh, Afghanistan.
According to the Army, the dead soldier — Pfc. Nathan Tyler Davis, of Yucaipa, Calif. — was the driver of the vehicle. Davis joined the Army in Sept. 2010 and graduated from basic training in Fort Benning, Ga., before arriving in Alaska in February 2011. He was on his first deployment.
The Army said a 22-year-old soldier on his first deployment to Afghanistan died June 4 in Landstuhl, Germany, where he was receiving treatment for injuries suffered in a June 1 attack in Khost Province.
Private First Class Vincent J. Ellis, of Tokyo, Japan, was a member of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. The Army said he was assigned to the brigade's 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, where he served as an airborne cavalry scout.
John Lerch, of Eagle River, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on May 23, 2012. He will be stationed at Vance AFB in Enid, Okla., and will attend pilot training this fall. He is a 2008 graduate of Chugiak High School and the son of John and Lenette Lerch of Eagle River.
KAHILTNA GLACIER BASE CAMP — Crowning a vast glacier and surrounded by other peaks of impressive magnitude rises Mount McKinley, also known as Denali (an Koyukon Athabaskan word meaning “The High One”).
It stands as the tallest peak in North America.
The mountain has a history of claiming the lives of unprepared climbers and offers some of the most treacherous terrain and harshest climates on the planet.
The newest commander of the U.S. Army in Alaska is no stranger to the 49th state.
Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, who from 2006 to '08 served as first commander of the 4th Brigade Comant Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, took command from Maj. Gen. Raymond Palumbo in a change of command ceremony held on Thursday, May 17 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
"It is absolutely fabulous to be back in Alaska," Garrett said before the ceremony.