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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued two lost hikers near China Poot Lake southeast of Homer, July 28.
According to personnel from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the two hikers wandered off the trail while hiking in the area and became lost.
“They tried for several hours to find the trail, but were unable to find their way back,” said Capt. Jeremiah Johnson, a senior controller with the AKRCC.
The hikers found their way to a clearing and used a 406 personal locator beacon to signal for help, he explained. Activated beacons are instantly detected by geostationary satellites, which relay coordinates of the user’s location to rescue coordination centers for immediate response and initiation of a rescue effort. The beacons significantly improve an individual’s chance of recovery, and have helped save many lives.
The Alaska State Troopers requested support from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing because of the terrain.
After the 176th Wing accepted the mission, they launched an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron and an HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron, each with a team of Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron on board, out of JBER.
Guardian Angel teams are highly trained medical personnel made up of a pararescueman and a combat rescue officer who both specialize in conducting high-risk rescue missions.
“The rescue teams were able to fly directly to their position and located them near China Poot Lake at approximately 7:45 a.m. Tuesday morning,” said Johnson.
Because of the terrain, the rescue crew had to perform a high angle hoist to recover the hikers. Afterwards, they were flown to the Homer Airport, where they were released to the Alaska State Troopers in good condition.
“It’s important to prepare for contingencies when going out into the wilderness by bringing things like a personal locator beacon as well as enough food and equipment to sustain yourself, if or when unexpected situations arise,” said Johnson. “The fact that they had a PLB allowed our people to fly right to their location.”
For this mission, the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded with two saves.