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Estimated 250,000 attend Arctic Thunder
A Cessna L-19 flies as part of the warbirds demonstration at the Arctic Thunder Open House 2012, July 29. Visitors from around Alaska came to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to enjoy the performances and displays available. The events included an all-star lineup, featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Flight Demonstration Team, the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and many other civilian and military performers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf)
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Soldiers entertain crowd at open house

Posted 8/3/2012   Updated 8/3/2012 Email story   Print story


by Army Staff Sgt. Matthew E. Winstead
U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs

8/3/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 2012 JBER Arctic Thunder Open House kept crowds of spectators and families entertained for an entire weekend with static displays and aerial demonstrations including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team and civilian air demonstrations.

Additionally, there were several joint forces demonstrations in which the U.S. Army played a dramatic role.

Opening the day with a free-fall demonstration presented by the U.S. Army's premier Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, jumpers clad in black and gold leapt from a C-23 Sherpa aircraft at an altitude of more than than 12,000 feet to perform amazing stunts and aerial acrobatics with red-smoke canisters attached to their ankles.

Spectators watched as the Golden Knights not only landed with precision on pre-designated target points, but also carried with them several flags honoring the event including the American flag, Alaska State flag and the POW/MIA flag.

A short time later, the crowd was treated to an airborne insertion of two planes worth of paratroopers as two 144th Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules flew across the airfield. The sky filled with parachutes as the staggered trail formation conducted a mass exit of paratroopers allowing for maximum jumps in a short amount of time.

Following the airborne demonstration, the Army conducted an air assault on a simulated enemy presence. A small strike force of troops quickly landed close to the "enemy" target following a reconnaissance sweep of the area by two Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior armed-reconnaissance helicopters. Once on the ground, the infantry elements quickly bounded up to the objective and called in a request for additional support.

The assistance quickly came in the form of two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters sling loading in a Humvee and a 105-mm artillery cannon, both of which were immediately placed into operation and employed against the retreating enemy.

Pyrotechnic simulation rounds boomed across the airfield in an eruption of white smoke while a CH-47 Chinook helicopter carried in another piece of equipment to be used in the simulated engagement; an M973 Small Unit Support Vehicle, or SUSV.

Finally, a 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III landed in a combat landing with minimal room on the runway and delivered the final vehicles to be used in the engagement completing the demonstration of just how quickly critical units can be delivered and placed into combat operations.

When independently timed, the Joint Forces Demonstration from start to finish took less than 30 minutes.

In addition to the mobile elements contributed to the open house, U.S. Army Alaska also provided static displays of weapons, vehicles and equipment from some of its subordinate units.

Army combatives were demonstrated, mountaineering equipment was showcased, interesting vehicles and aircraft, some of which were flown during the actual show, were staged for the public to see and enter and static weapons were available for people to see and hold under the watchful eye of trained professional Soldiers.

A particular crowd favorite was the collection of inflatable bouncy houses and climbing walls. Children and a few adults enjoyed a bouncy break from the sun in the shade of an open Air Force hangar in between some of the more dynamic events outside.

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