Sunday, June 10, 2012

South Dakota Army National Guard assists in hiker rescue in Badlands National Park

South Dakota National Guard

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Soldiers with the South Dakota Army National Guard assisted the National Park Service in the rescue of an injured hiker in Badlands National Park, near Interior, S.D., Thursday, June 7.

The Soldiers, using a UH-72 Lakota helicopter, conducted a cable-hoist extraction of a park visitor who was hiking, fell and was injured on Notch Trail, according to the National Park Service.

Dave Johnson, 57, from Audubon, Pa., was hiking alone when he ventured off the trail and slipped and slid into a crack. Park officials stated he started hiking at 7:30 a.m. and had been trapped and unable to get help until he was discovered by other park visitors at approximately 10:30 a.m. He was experiencing severe leg and back pain along with numerous cuts and scrapes.

Park rangers and the Interior Volunteer Fire Department were first on scene after hiking in about three quarters of a mile to find Johnson. Multiple agencies responded to the incident including Kadoka and Philip Ambulance Companies, Jackson County Sheriff’s officers and the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

The call for assistance to the South Dakota Army Guard came at about 11:30 a.m., after Park Service and emergency response personnel determined the safest and most appropriate method of rescue would be by helicopter. One of the deciding factors was the difficulty of bringing a litter down the wood/cable ladder that connects the upper and lower parts of Notch Trail, said Park Service officials.

This was the South Dakota Army Guard’s first live-rescue mission in the state with the new UH-72 Lakota helicopter, which was fielded in May 2011. The Guard, along with the National Park Service and other agencies, trained for this exact scenario about a week earlier.

“We trained for this type of scenario on May 30,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Frank, pilot-in-command. “That’s how important the interagency coordination and training is. The rescue mission went very smooth.”

The flight crew hoisted the patient out to a nearby parking lot where other agencies provided medical care before transferring him to Rapid City Regional Medical Center.

For the flight crew, the extraction was all just part of their mission. “This is what the Guard the does – help people,” said Army Staff Sgt. Anton Oerlline, a crew chief with the South Dakota Army Guard who was part of the mission. “The training we go through prepares us to be able to respond and assist to an emergency quickly and efficiently.”

The crew was glad they were able to assist with the mission.

 “We were happy to be of assistance to the emergency crews on the ground and to help get the patient the care he needed,” said Frank.

Wisconsin Challenge Academy to honor 106 graduates and scholarship recipients

One hundred and six cadets from 38 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy in a noon ceremony Saturday (June 9), at Stevens Point Area Senior High School.

The Challenge Academy re-shapes the lives of at-risk 16-to-18-year-olds. It uses a structured, military-style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors to build cadets' academic abilities, character, self-confidence, and personal discipline.

After graduating from the 22-week residential phase of academy training, cadets are paired with hometown mentors who offer guidance and encouragement in pursuing their new direction in life.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is scheduled to address graduates along with their parents, relatives, mentors, and friends on hand to celebrate their success.

Twenty-eight states and Puerto Rico offer similar programs nationwide. More than 100,000 teens have successfully completed the National Guard youth programs since 1993. In Wisconsin more than 86 percent of cadets who finish the program receive their high school equivalency diploma (HSED), and more than 80 percent stay out of trouble with the law.

The Wisconsin Challenge Academy will begin its next class July 19. Applications are available for future classes by contacting the Challenge Academy at (866) 968-8422 or visiting their website.

Deputy Secretary Discusses Strategy With Academy Faculty

By Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham
U.S. Military Academy

WEST POINT, N.Y.  – Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter sat down with some of the U.S. Military Academy's leading thinkers on military strategy, doctrine and history here this week to gain their insights into the Army's past and future.

Carter visited West Point as the keynote speaker for a cyberdefense conference.

"I realized that since I was going to be at West Point -- and West Point is one of the intellectual centers, as well as training centers of our armed forces -- I wanted to have an opportunity to tap into the expertise and knowledge in the social sciences department and the history department," he explained.

Carter spoke with the U.S. Corps of Cadets Commandant Brig. Gen. Theodore D. Martin and several other faculty members about lessons learned from 10 years of war, and his thoughts on the way forward.

The discussion offered different insights and perspectives from the faculty for Carter to share with other Defense Department and service leaders.

The deputy secretary encouraged the academy’s faculty to help "blaze the trail forward for the Army."

"I wanted to encourage the faculty to help us make this great transition that we're embarked on from the era of a focus on Iraq and Afghanistan to the problems that are going to define the countries' future," Carter said.

"These kinds of turning points in history are the times when you especially need to draw on the kind of depth that you find at a place like West Point," he continued. “Here you have historians who have looked at conflicts over decades and centuries and eons and where you have people who are cutting-edge social scientists who are thinking on behalf of the country and the future."

Regardless of what the future holds, the Army's mission will be to fight and win our nation's wars. Carter said that having conversations like this will undoubtedly pay dividends as the Army will play an essential role in the way forward for the nation's defense strategies.

"The Army is, by its nature and tradition, focused on the human dimensions of conflict and conflict prevention," he said. "The Army and its doctrinal thinking is going to be key in moving the whole national security perspective into this next era. That's why I think their perspective is so valuable.

"I was incredibly impressed by the faculty and the kind of insights that they have. We are so fortunate to have an institution like this working on our behalf at this time," he concluded.