Know Your Military

Alaska Guardsmen Swap Santa Mission for Damage Survey

Dec. 4, 2018

When a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck seven miles from Anchorage, Alaska, on Nov. 30, the mission for one Alaska Air National Guard C-130J Super Hercules crew changed in a flash.

An aerial photo shows a damaged bridge in Alaska.
Earthquake Damage
A damaged bridge is shown in this image taken by Alaska Air National Guardsmen assigned to the 211th Rescue Squadron, 176th Wing, during an aerial damage assessment following an earthquake that hit the Anchorage, Alaska.
Photo By: Alaska Air National Guard
VIRIN: 181130-Z-ZZ999-0001

The crew, from the 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron, was mid-taxi in an aircraft loaded full of Christmas gifts and school supplies for children in the remote Bering Sea community of Gambell. Just before takeoff, they got the word to return to the hangar to prepare for a very different mission — an aerial survey of the earthquake damage.

They were back in the air within two hours, helping first responders to reduce the chaos that followed the quake.

Read more about their mission and the airmen who supported it here.