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Alaska Air Guard HC-130J Combat King II Expedites Medevac

  • Published
  • By Maj. Chelsea Aspelund,
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guard HC-130J Combat King II aircrew provided refueling and weather navigation to expedite the medevac of a critical patient by HH-60G Pave Hawk Jan. 21.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital asked for help via LifeMed Alaska to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to medevac a patient in critical condition from Anaktuvuk Pass, about 414 miles north of Anchorage. Poor flying weather prohibited LifeMed from reaching the patient.

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Ryan Wiese, 176th Operations Group search and rescue duty officer, said the group accepted the mission and asked for a weather report from the 3rd Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight.

“We requested a weather 9-line, reviewed the conditions en route to the pass, and identified multiple route options,” Wiese said.

Traveling hundreds of nautical miles through multiple Alaska mountain ranges in January can prove unpredictable. 

The 176th Wing dispatched a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J and a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter with a 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team on both aircraft.

The HH-60 crew reached the patient and transported him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Wiese said that without HC-130 support, the HH-60 aircrew would have needed to land for fuel, increasing the time until the patient could receive care. The weather also ruled out landing at several possible refueling locations, creating a longer route and additional delay for the patient. 

“The Combat King was vital to the success of this mission,” Wiese said. “Pave Hawk aircrew were able to fly a more direct route to Anaktuvuk as they received fuel and weather [reconnaissance] support from King.”

For this medevac, the AK RCC, 210th, 211th and 212th RQS received credit for one save.