Why Is Unalaska Hosting Army Helicopters? Their Mission Is Unclear.

Aug 20, 2018

Soldiers from Alaska's 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment inspect a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at the Unalaska Airport on Sunday, Aug. 19.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Two U.S. Army helicopters arrived in Unalaska last week, but their mission is unclear.

The CH-47 Chinooks have been sitting on the airport tarmac, and soldiers have been spotted moving about and inspecting them.

"They're there as part of a joint effort with the U.S. Air Force and — I think — the U.S. Coast Guard," said Lt. Colonel Martyn Crighton, a public affairs officer for U.S. Army Alaska. "But honestly, I don't have the details."

He said the unit is from Fort Wainwright, the Army post near Fairbanks.

"They're from the 1st Battalion, 52nd [Aviation Regiment]," said Crighton. "General support aviation."

He referred further questions to the Coast Guard. But members of the local Marine Safety Detachment Unit didn't know why the helicopters were on the island, and officials at Sector Juneau didn't respond Monday to KUCB's call for comment.  

While Unalaska's Department of Ports and Harbors manages the airport, port officials referred questions to the state Department of Transportation, which did not respond Monday either. 

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing describes the Chinook as a "multi-mission" helicopter that's used for transporting troops and equipment, delivering relief supplies, and evacuating people during disasters.

Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, photographed at the Unalaska Airport on Sunday, Aug. 19.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB