Alaska troops to spend holidays in Kuwait
FAIRBANKS - Nearly 700 airmen from Eielson Air Force Base about a quarter of the base's complement will spend three months in Kuwait.
About 120 airmen and six F-16s left Eielson early Wednesday to spend the holidays patrolling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq. Additional troops left Thursday.
"Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean that peace and stability in this world doesn't need to be monitored," said Brig. Gen. Bob DuLaney, the base's commander. "It's the military, we're here to serve."
Staff Sgt. Mike Bush will be spending his fifth Christmas in 10 years away from home, and so far this has proved to be the toughest one. He had to explain to his 8-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter why the family celebrated Christmas three weeks early.
"There's no easy way to deal with it," Bush said. He stayed up until midnight playing with his son Monday night. Then he had to turn around and be at an Eielson hangar at 4:30 a.m. and wait until the roughly 30 other airmen and their equipment boarded the C-17 cargo plane from McChord Air Force Base in Washington state for Kuwait at 7:30 a.m.
Once in Kuwait, Bush, who is a crew chief, will only be authorized two 15-minute phone calls per week and will have to vie with others for phone time on Christmas.
For Airman 1st Class Chad Everett, his first deployment gives him a chance to put his three years of training as a crew chief to use in a real-world scenario. Everett, who is single, wasn't distressed with spending Christmas in Kuwait. "We've got each other over there," he said.
Christmas aid deadline today
JUNEAU - Applications for Christmas aid from the Salvation Army are due by 5 p.m. today at the Salvation Army, 439 W. Willoughby Ave.
The charity is offering Christmas food boxes containing turkey or ham and trimmings for a traditional Christmas meal, as well as toys for children. In addition to the Christmas "angel trees," the Salvation Army is working to match entire families with sponsors in an adopt-a-family program. Needy families can apply for sponsorship at the Salvation Army before today's deadline.
The angel trees will come down this weekend, and volunteers will begin preparing the food boxes and presents Saturday. Distribution will begin Dec. 17.
Lake Creek Trail open to snowmachines
JUNEAU - The Lake Creek Trail is now open to snowmachiners.
The U.S. Forest Service trail, from Back Loop Road to the Spaulding Meadows area, has enough snow for motorized use, Juneau District Ranger Pete Griffin announced Thursday. "Use extreme caution and low speeds when accessing all trails, respecting the rights of residents and students who live along these routes," Griffin said in a press release.
Parts of West Juneau's Treadwell Ditch-Dan Moller trail system also are open to snowmachiners. For more information about trail use or conditions, call the Forest Service at 586-8800.
Gas line planned for Kenai Peninsula
ANCHORAGE - Unocal and Marathon oil companies say they plan to begin soon to apply for a permits to build a pipeline to bring natural gas to the lower Kenai Peninsula.
The companies Wednesday announced the completion of a yearlong study that concluded the gas line is feasible. The two companies have formed a joint venture, Kenai Kachemak Pipeline LLC, to build and operate the line.
The companies still must determine there is a marketable supply of natural gas reserves before the project gets a final go-ahead, said Unocal spokeswoman Roxanne Sinz. Exploratory drilling is ongoing. The ultimate route and capacity of the pipeline also depends on exploration.
The proposed line would link the Kenai-Soldotna area with Anchor Point and Homer, promising cheap heating fuel to the southern Kenai Peninsula in the short term, and the prospect of shipping gas from reserves near Anchor Point northward in the long run.