JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — A Soldier with the Alaska Army National Guard was mauled by a brown bear sow on JBER Sunday morning at about 11:45 a.m. while he was participating in a land navigation exercise. He is currently enrolled in the Alaska Army National Guard’s 22-day Warrior Leadership Course for junior enlisted Soldiers.
Sgt. Lucas Wendeborn, 26, is assigned to the 1-297th Cavalry, an Army National Guard Detachment in Valdez, where Wendeborn was born and still resides.
During the land navigation exercise, Soldiers are given a compass, a map, and a test. They are timed as they navigate alone to various hidden locations throughout the course.
Wendeborn was walking through dense woods, passed a tree and saw the brown bear, a sow with two cubs, pop out of the brush a few yards in front of him. They made eye contact and he immediately adapted to what he had been taught to do. He dropped to the ground and remained still. He was swiftly approached by the sow, which picked him up by the hip and tossed him. He was bitten and swatted at before she retreated. After she left, Wendeborn waited about 15-30 seconds, stood and blew his safety whistle, and then made his way toward a nearby road.
“He had just received a safety briefing that morning that included how to react to a brown bear encounter,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan Feaster, commandant for the 207th Multi-functional Training Regiment, which manages the Warrior Leadership Course.
Three medics were on the course, quickly arrived and immediately began treatment to stabilize Wendeborn. They medivaced the injured survivor to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Hospital quickly after the attack. An ambulance was already on site as part of standard operating procedures for the 207th MFTR.
Wendeborn has lacerations on his left shoulder, back and chest; and puncture wounds under his left shoulder blade, right rib cage, and other areas.
“SGT Wendeborn said this was a textbook example of a worst-case scenario,” said Feaster. “He said, ‘I remember exactly what I was told and I did exactly what I was told, and it probably saved my life.’”
Wendeborn is in stable, non-life-threatening condition at JBER Hospital.