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Photos: A training mission for Alaska’s elite search-and-rescue team

  • Author: Loren Holmes
  • Updated: January 10
  • Published January 10

When a plane crashes in Alaska, often the first people called are the staff of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.

The small staff, part of the Alaska Air National Guard, operates 24/7 and coordinates search-and-rescue efforts with civilian groups like the Alaska State Troopers and the Civil Air Patrol, and, if necessary, military assets from the National Guard.

The military’s rescue triad consists of an HC-130J Combat King II airplane, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, and teams of “guardian angels.” Guardian angel teams comprise pararescue personnel and combat rescue officers, highly trained airmen who can parachute into a remote or hostile location and provide medical attention to injured soldiers and prepare them for transport.

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