B Company - "Sugar Bears North" unit patch.
242 ASHC / B Company - "Sugar Bears North" D model fielding poster.
B Company - "Sugar Bears North" High Altitude Rescue Team (HART) patch.



1 September 2002: CH-47D Chinook helicopter 89-00167 goes into Phased Maintenance. Infrared photography reveals some interesting details in the aircraft structure.

             1 September 2002: CH-47D Chinook helicopter 89-00167 goes into Phased Maintenance. Infrared photography reveals some interesting details in the aircraft structure.



             89-00167, Boeing D model kit number M3321, was a CH-47D helicopter. The U.S Army acceptance date was 31 August 1990. 89-00167 was test flown and accepted at 4,444.9 aircraft hours. As of 28 September 2001, 89-00167 had accumulated 1,784.5 D model hours and 6,222.5 total aircraft hours.

   89-00167 was a conversion from the original C model Chinook 67-18520.

   89-00167 was inducted into the D model program, conversion complete on 2 August 1990, and initially assigned to the unit that would eventually become B Company - "Sugar Bears North", 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment, located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

   Fort Wainwright was the former historic Ladd Field of World War Two era fame.

   B Company was the former C Company, 228th Aviation Regiment (16 October 1987 - 24 June 1994). C Company was the former 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC) - "Muleskinners" (located in Alaska from November 1971 through 16 October 1987).

   When United States involvement in the Vietnam conflict ended, 242nd ASHC was relocated from the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) to Alaska. The aviation unit in Alaska at the time was designated the 236th ASHC, 19th Aviation Battalion (April 1971 - November 1971). When the 242nd ASHC relocated to Alaska and reformed, the unit name changed from "Muleskinners" to "Sugar Bears" and the unit designation went from the 236th ASHC to the 242nd ASHC.

   At some point, the unit was split into two companies. One company remained in Alaska and became known as "Sugar Bears North". The other company, C Company, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, was relocated to Fort Kobbe, Panama and became known as "Sugar Bears South".

   On 16 January 1991, at 4,506.7 aircraft hours, 89-00167 was disassembled for C5 air shipment to the Middle East Theater for Operation Desert Shield / Storm.

   On 23 February 1991, at 4,520.3 aircraft hours, 89-00167 was assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, Saudi Arabia. 89-00167 flew approximately 48.3 hours in support of Operation Desert Shield.

   89-00167 was one of three C Company, 228th Aviation Regiment Chinook helicopters to deploy to Southwest Asia. 89-00172 and 89-00176 were the other two aircraft.

   On 22 March 1991, 89-00167 was redeployed to Alaska.

   On or about 2 April 1991, 89-00167 was assigned to C Company, 228th Aviation Regiment.

   On 14 March 1997, at 5,444.1 aircraft hours, 89-00167 sustained severe damage to the aft pylon in a bizarre aircraft to aircraft ground accident. While parked in the C-130 landing strip in the Yukon Training Area east of Fort Wainwright known as Firebird LZ, 89-00167 rolled downhill and ran into two of it's sister ships (tail numbers unknown). The unit had parked all aircraft involved on uneven, sloping terrain, nose to tail. Approximately three hours after being secured for the day, the brakes on 89-00167 released due to fluid seepage in the brake system. The aircraft spun around and first contacted one aircraft in the nose section with it's rear end, then continued to roll downhill, striking another parked aircraft in the number one engine area, again with it's rear end.

   On 17 February 1998, at 5,544.4 aircraft hours, 89-00167 experienced a rotor overspeed, details unknown.

   As of 1 January 2002, this aircraft was 33.6 years old.

   As of 28 September 2002, the last known location of 89-00167 was Fort Wainwright, Alaska assigned to B Company, 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment.

   Aircraft status: Flyable.



          A Rescue on Denali



             On 12 June 2000, the Sugar Bears of B Company, 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, received a call from the National Park Service (NPS) that a climber from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia had fallen at the 18,200 foot level of Mt. Mckinley (Denali) after his summit of the mountain. 61 year old Lev Sarikov was famous as the oldest man to summit Mount Everest (Guinness Book of World Records). The NPS Rangers stabilized Mr. Sarikov's injuries at the 17,200 high base camp and prepared him for Air Evac. After many hours of weather standby, the NPS Aerospatiale Lama helicopter went down for crew rest and the Sugar Bears were alerted that they might have to perform the mission.

             Two crews from Fort Wainwright's High Altitude Rescue Team (HART) deployed their CH-47D Chinook helicopters to the town of Talkeetna at approximately 1500 hours and took over standby. After several hours on weather hold, the NPS decided to send a ground team to climb to the 17,200 foot base camp, and evacuate Mr. Sarikov to the 14,200 foot base camp where he could receive limited medical help from United States Air Force (USAF) para-jumpers.

             The helicopter rescue operation finally commenced at 2300, when the weather broke enough to allow a flight into the 14,200 foot camp. This was approximately 30 minutes after the ground team brought Mr. Sarikov into the base camp. A Landing Zone (LZ) was laid out by the NPS using footprints in the snow and edge marked with three bright red body bags to aid the pilots during the snow landing. A cross wind of approximately 20 knots existed, but visibility had cleared at the landing site.

             Aircraft 89-00167, piloted by CW3 Dennis Busch and CW2 Kevin Cook, made a landing at this impromptu LZ at 2325. The helicopter was crewed by SFC Walt Shontz (Second Flight Platoon Sergeant), SSG Dave Piccinini (Flight Engineer), and SPC Mike Levi (Crew Chief). A total ground time of six minutes allowed the evacuation of Mr. Sarikov, an interpreter, and a USAF para-jumper. Mr. Sarikov was transported off the mountain and down to the town of Talkeetna, where he was transferred to a fixed winged aircraft for continued flight to an Anchorage Hospital. He was treated for broken ribs, numerous cuts and bruises, and fluid in the lungs.

SFC James W. Kennick.
   Sugar Bear aircraft 90-00181 performed as cover ship during the operation, circling at the 14,500 foot level while the rescue operation was conducted. The pilots, CW3 Wade Boynton and CW2 Gregory McNelly, relayed weather information to 89-00167. 90-00181 was crewed by SFC James Kennick (First Flight Platoon Sergeant), SGT Rafael Ocasio (Flight Engineer), and SPC Barry Izer Crew Chief).

             Captain Vic Ferson worked closely with the National Park Service at Talkeetna and aboard the cover ship coordinating numerous aspects of the rescue.



          Springtime in Alaska



Sugar Bear's Chinook 89-00167 at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, 26 April 2002

             This 26 April 2002 photograph shows this Chinook helicopter 89-00167 taking a break in the arctic wilderness of Alaska. A rapidly developing snow storm dumped 6 inches of snow in less than 24 hours on Fort Wainwwright and vicinity.



          A Mission to Barrow



   On 29 July 2002, First Flight Platoon of B Company - "Sugar Bears North", 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment, located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, conducted the first ever platoon fly-away mission to northern Alaska.

             The object of this exercise was to enhance the tactical navigational skills and remote operational capability of the unit. During the exercise, First Flight not only achieved the unique status of having deployed the CH-47 farther north than other unit, but supported the University of Alaska in recovering the fossil remains of an ancient Pachyrhinosaur near the Colville River above the North Slope.

             Pictured below are the daring young men and women of First Flight that made this mission a success.


89-00167 and the members of First Flight Platoon on the platoon fly-away training mission to Barrow, Alaska, 29 July 2002.


Members of First Flight on the platoon fly-away training mission to Barrow, Alaska, 29 July 2002.

             L/R Front Row (kneeling): CW2 Baklarz, CW2 Fortenberry, CW2 Swanson, CW2 Lehr, CW2 McClintic, SPC Prichard, CW2 Hill. L/R Back Row (standing): CW2 Bridges, SPC Shumate, CW3 Clements, SSG Albertson, CW3 Solberg, CPT O'Neill, CPT Magness, SPC Nobs, SGT Saunders, SGT Misurelli, SPC Apel, SPC Weber, PV2 Espana.



Four Boeing CH-47D Chinooks cruise over the Artic Ocean.

             Four Boeing CH-47D Chinooks belonging to the "Sugar Bears" cruise over the Arctic Ocean north of Barrow.



          Pachyrhinosaurus Recovery



          The season's short,
          but dinosaur hunters find plenty in Alaska.


             COLVILLE RIVER, Alaska - Dinosaur hunter Tony Fiorillo returned to Alaska's North Slope in July, intent on extracting the skull of a pachyrhinosaur spotted a year before north of America's northernmost mountains.
Paleontologist Kevin May is shown with fossilized bones of hadrosaurs, duckbilled, plant-eating dinosaurs.

             The plant-eating dinosaur was a cousin to triceratops. It grew up to 7 feet (2.1 meters) high and 18 feet (5.4 meters) long. Its head had a boney nasal protuberance that may have supported a horn, and a prominent frill at the back with two distinct horns.

             Fiorillo never did extract the skull. As he and other dinosaur hunters began work, they found seven more pachyrhinosaur skulls in an area of about 13 feet by 13 feet (3.9 meters by 3.9 meters).

             "We never would have predicted finding that much," said Fiorillo, a curator at the Dallas Museum of Natural History. They ended up covering parts of three skulls with a burlap and plaster cast and hauling them out.

             Only a few decades ago, most paleontologists imagined dinosaurs as tropic and subtropic animals with reptile physiology, and that Alaska was too far north to yield remains. But scientists relying heavily on volunteers are slowly unlocking the Arctic's life history secrets, including a rich dinosaur heritage.

             Eighteen miles (30 kilometers) upstream from Fiorillo's pachyrhinosaurs, hunkered near the bottom of a 100-foot-high bluff on the Colville, paleontologist Kevin May feathered grit away from fossilized bones of juvenile hadrosaurs, duckbilled, plant-eating dinosaurs that grew 10 feet (3 meters) tall and 40 feet (12 meters) long.

             "Our working theory is that this was a group of animals that was crossing a stream during flood stage, and they got caught in the higher water and drowned," said May of the University of Alaska Museum.

             Later, under a lean-to heated by camp stoves, he covered the smooth, brown fossil legs and joints with latex. Peeled off, the latex mold will be cast for a museum display.

             The fossils are part of the Liscomb bed, which runs up to 3 feet high (90 centimeters high) for the length of two football fields along the Colville bluff. How deep the bones run into the hillside, no one knows.

             There are so many fossils, the dinosaur hunters don't even bother with the odd pieces below on the beach, where the next flood stage will make them rolling stones on the river bottom.

             Overseeing the work was Dr. Roland Gangloff, curator of earth sciences for the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks.

             "If I'm right," Gangloff said, "this is going to be one of the densest bone yards ever."

             Paleontology is in its infancy in Alaska, pursued methodically only since the mid-1980s when the fossil bed discovered by Shell Oil geologist Robert Liscomb drew interest at universities.

             A dozen Alaska dinosaurs have been identified, all alive in the late Cretaceous period, the last slice of the more than 150 million years when dinosaurs walked on Earth.

             Most Alaska dinosaurs have been recovered north of the Brooks Range near Ocean Point, 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Arctic Ocean in the northeast corner of the National Petroleum Range Alaska.

             What cold-blooded dinosaurs were doing so far north is a question that drives the researchers and makes them question whether the animals were cold-blooded.

             The climate was far milder than present-day northern Alaska, where the daily minimum temperature is below freezing 297 days each year. During dinosaur days, plant fossils and other evidence indicate that the climate was more like Washington's Olympic Peninsula, covered with trees but cold enough so that cold-blooded creatures would need winter protection, Gangloff said.

             That means Alaska's hadrosaurs either migrated south, or hibernated or were warm-blooded. Conspicuous by their absence are fossils of known cold-blooded creatures such as lizards or crocodilians, which have been abundant in Montana and Alberta.

             Then there's the big question: Can Alaska fossils give any clues as to what killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago?

             Hadrosaurs, lunch meat for carnivores, lived from Alaska to Australia and Antarctica. The ability of hadrosaurs to adapt to cold leads some paleontologists to question whether a single catastrophic event, such as a large meteor hitting the earth, kicking up dust, blotting out the sun's rays and lowering the planet's temperature, would wipe out all dinosaurs.

             Alaska's earth scientists want to find out, but face daunting challenges, starting with the remote, roadless locations of fossil beds.

             From the air, the tundra looks flat and smooth, belying what's below: miles upon miles (kilometers upon kilometers) of tussock, the mushroom-shaped mounds a foot or so high that bend underfoot like rubber stumps. Between them is bog. The only practical summer mode of transportation is by air, adding to the expense of reaching dig sites.

             Snow stays until early June. Federal law prohibits disturbing nesting raptors such as peregrine falcons. Drenching rains turn dig sites into clay soup, driving researchers into their tents to wait for dry weather. Over the last 16 years, Gangloff said, the field season on the Colville has averaged just 12 summer days.

             On sunny days, biting insects swarm in clouds, driving caribou batty and researchers to their knees, praying for a strong breeze.

             Gangloff has traveled to the Colville for 14 summers. The researchers cobble together small grants to provide camps for volunteers from university faculty to schoolchildren to professionals who pay their own way willing to kneel and dig in bone beds.

             "It's been about 85 percent volunteer," he said.

             This year Gangloff and Fiorillo received local help: heavy-lifting Chinook helicopters from the Army's 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

             Ostensibly training to fight terrorists attacking North Slope oil fields, the soldiers in the big helicopters ferried in supplies, then carried out specimens, including the casting with the three pachyrhinosaur skulls, which weighed more than 2,200 pounds (990 kilograms).

             On the ground, 10 California teachers helped dig. A National Science Foundation grant helped bring them up from the West Contra Costa Unified School District. They learned vertebrate paleontological field techniques. In return, they will develop curriculum, mentor other teachers and try to excite children about earth sciences.

Teachers and researchers dig for fossils in the bluffs.
   The teachers recovered more than 500 bones and teeth and made measurements that will be used to create three-dimensional maps of the bed.

             K. Christopher Beard, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, said Alaska's fossils are important for understanding how dinosaurs moved from Asia to North America.

             Scientists also wonder, Beard said, whether Alaska dinosaurs reflect all dinosaurs or made adaptations specific to their surroundings.

             "The Alaska fossil record needs to be improved," he said.

             "They are forcing people to reconsider what dinosaurs were like," he said.



          This aircraft was piloted by:


          CW2/3 Dennis Busch, Pilot in Command, 1994 - 1997 / 1998 - 2001


          CW4 Mark S. Morgan, Maintenance Examiner, 2000 - 2003


          Your Name Here.



          This aircraft was crewed by:


          SSG Michael Ruffner, Flight Engineer, 2004 - 2006


          SPC Jason Jennings, Flight Engineer, 1999 - 2001


          SGT Jason Wainwright, Flight Engineer, 2000 - 2002


          SPC Jason Shumate, Crew Chief, 2001 - 2002


          Your Name Here.



          Related Sites


          Icthyosaur Recovery

          Another Freak Incident



          The CH-47 - 40 years old and still circling the world.


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