A Light Medium Tactical Vehicle and a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle leave the Alaska National Guard Armory on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Jan. 5, 2022. (Victoria Granado/U.S. Army National Guard)
Two Army soldiers were killed and a dozen more were injured when the tactical vehicle that they were riding in overturned on a dirt road 30 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Light Medium Tactical Vehicle was transporting 17 soldiers of the 11th Airborne Division from Fort Wainwright to the Yukon Training Area near Salcha when it skidded and flipped, according to John Pennell, a U.S. Army Alaska spokesman. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
About 7,200 soldiers are based at Fort Wainwright, which is near Fairbanks and the northernmost active-duty military installation in the United States. It is often the site for cold weather training and weapons testing in harsh conditions. The base is home to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 11th Airborne Division, nicknamed “Arctic Angels.” The base is also home to the Arctic Aviation Command.
The Yukon Training Center, part of the Fort Wainwright complex of military installations in the area, has nearly 270,000 acres for military maneuvers. It is bordered on the north by Eielson Air Force Base, home of the 354th Fighter Wing. The wing is part of the 11th Air Force, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage.
Emergency fire and medical providers arrived at the scene and were able to give first aid to the injured soldiers, who were taken by vehicle or helicopter to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
Two severely injured soldiers were flown by air ambulance to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.
Pennell said the identities of the soldiers killed in crash at about 11 a.m. Monday, local time, would not be released until 24 hours after relatives had been informed of their deaths. But he told The Associated Press that the Army was reaching out to personnel and families at Fort Wainwright affected by the incident.
“We’re a real tight-knit group in the military, so right now, the entire 11th Airborne Division is grieving and preparing to provide whatever support is necessary for the families of the deceased and to help support those who are still in the hospital and dealing with their injuries,” he said.
Monday’s crash is the second fatal accident involving Army troops in Alaska. when two helicopters collided while flying to Fort Wainright.
The National Weather Service issued a special weather announcement on Sept. 29 calling for sometimes heavy snow and freezing conditions through Tuesday.
“Heavy snow showers could reduce visibility at times,” according to the weather service. “Please plan ahead for slippery road conditions and use caution when travelling.”
The Army will investigate the cause of the crash. Under Army protocol, a team also will be dispatched from the service’s accident investigations unit at the Army Combat Readiness Center in Fort Novosel, Ala., formerly Fort Rucker.
Fort Novosel is home to training for safety and its investigators are dispatched whenever a “Class A” accident involving the loss of life, permanent disability or property damage of more than $2 million takes place.