In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, the grave marker of French WWI soldier Augustin Trebuchon in Vrigne-Meuse, France. His tiny plot is almost on the front line where the guns finally fell silent at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, after a four-year war that had already killed millions. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) (Virginia Mayo/)
VRIGNE-MEUSE, France — Augustin Trebuchon is buried beneath a white lie.
His tiny plot is almost on the front line where the guns finally fell silent at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, after a four-year war that had already killed millions.
A simple white cross says: "Died for France on Nov. 10, 1918."
Like hundreds of others along the Western Front, Trebuchon was killed in combat on the morning of Nov. 11 — after the pre-dawn agreement between the Allies and Germany but before the armistice took effect six hours later.
His death at almost literally the eleventh hour only highlighted the folly of a war that had become ever more incomprehensible to many in nations drawn into the first global conflict.
Before Nov. 11, the war had killed 14 million people, including 9 million soldiers, sailors and airmen from 28 countries. Germany came close to a quick, early victory before the war settled into hellish trench fighting. One battle, like the Somme in France, could have up to 1 million casualties. The use of poison gas came to epitomize the ruthlessness of warfare that the world had never seen.
For the French, who lost up to 1.4 million troops, it was perhaps too poignant — or too shameful — to denote that Trebuchon had been killed on the very last morning, just as victory finally prevailed.
"Indeed, on the tombs it said 'Nov. 10, 1918,' to somewhat ease the mourning of families," said French military historian Nicolas Czubak.
FILE - In this file photo from Nov. 1918, the German and French delegations speak as they wait in Rethondes for the start of the train to the Armistice conference in the Forest of Compiegne, France. (AP Photo, File)
There were many reasons why men kept falling until the call of the bugler at 11 a.m.: fear that the enemy would not abide by the armistice, a sheer hatred after four years of unprecedented slaughter, the ambition of commanders craving a last victory, bad communications, the inane joy of killing.
As the hours ticked down, villages were taken, attacks were thwarted with heavy losses and rivers were crossed under enemy fire. Questions remain whether the gains were worth all the human losses.
Historian Joseph Persico estimated the total dead, wounded and missing on all sides on the final day was 10,900.
U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing, who had been bent on continuing the fighting, even had to explain to Congress the high number of last-day losses.
Other nations also were not spared such casualties.
With two minutes to go, 25-year-old Canadian Pvt. George Lawrence Price was slain by a German sniper.
About 150 miles away in France, a 23-year-old American, Henry Gunther, was killed by German machine-gun fire one minute before the armistice.
Trebuchon, 40, also was shot minutes before the cease-fire. He was running to tell his comrades where and when they would have a meal after the armistice.
All three are considered their nations' last men to fall in active combat.
In this photo taken on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, a memorial to US World War I soldier Henry Gunther perched on a hill where he died in Chaumont-devant-Damvillers, France. Henry Gunther's time of death was recorded at 10:59am and was recognized by General John Pershing as the last American to die on the battlefront. Hundreds of troops died on the final morning of World War I _ even after an armistice was reached and before it came into force. Death at literally the 11th hour highlighted the futility of a conflict that had become even more incomprehensible in four years of battle. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) (Virginia Mayo/)
‘The futility of the larger war'
Anti-German sentiment ran high after the United States declared war in April 1917, and Gunther and his family in Baltimore were subjected to the kind of prejudice and suspicion that many of German descent faced at the time.
"It was not a good time to be German in the United States," said historian Alec Bennett.
Gunther had little choice when he got drafted. He was given the rank of sergeant, but he later was demoted when he wrote a letter home critical of the conditions in the war.
Soon after, he was thrown into the biggest U.S. battle of the war, the Meuse-Argonne offensive in northeastern France.
There were reports he was still brooding over his demotion right on Nov. 11. When he emerged from a thick fog in the valley around Chaumont-devant-Damvillers, he and his comrades faced a German machine gun nest on the hillside.
Indications are that the Germans fired one salvo over his head as a warning, knowing the war was almost over. But he still charged onward.
FILE - In this file photo taken on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, the sun begins to rise behind barbed wire next to a re-constructed WWI trench in Ploegsteert, Belgium. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File) (Virginia Mayo/)
“His time of death was 10:59 a.m., which is just so haunting,” Bennett said. Gunther was recognized by Pershing as the last American to die on the battlefield.
Questions remain whether it was a suicide run, an attempt at redemption or an act of true devotion.
"It is just as puzzling now as it was 100 years ago," Bennett said, adding that one thing is clear: "Gunther's act is seen as almost a symbol of the futility of the larger war."
But there was one more cruel twist for his family: They were unaware he had been killed.
Upon his expected return "they went to the train station to meet Henry — not there!" said Bruce Malone, superintendent of Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, the final resting place for 100 Americans who died Nov. 11.
‘A need to kill one last time’
There was no mystery surrounding the death of Price, the Canadian. It was an utterly senseless loss of life.
He was a farm laborer in Saskatchewan when the swirl of history plucked him off the land in October 1917 as the Allies sought ever more manpower for the Western Front.
The summer after he was drafted, he was part of the surge of victories that seized villages and cities right up to Nov. 11. By that time, Canadians were retaking Mons in southern Belgium, where soldiers from the British Commonwealth had their very first battle with the Germans in August 1914.
It was especially sweet for the Commonwealth commanders to retake the city, bringing the war full circle where they lost their first soldier, English Pvt. John Parr, on Aug. 21, 1914.
In this file photo taken on Saturday, July 26, 2014, wooden crosses and Canadian flags adorn the grave of World War I Canadian soldier Pvt. George Lawrence Price, center, at the St. Symphorien Cemetery near Mons, Belgium. Price was recorded as the last Canadian soldier to die on the Western Front during the First World War. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File) (Virginia Mayo/)
Price decided to check out homes along the canals while civilians in the center of Mons had already broken out the wine and whiskey they had hidden for years from the Germans to celebrate with the Canadians.
Suddenly, a shot rang out and Price collapsed.
"It really was one man, here and there, who was driven by vengeance, by a need to kill one last time," said Belgian historian Corentin Rousman.
The final minutes counted not just for the casualties but also for the killers.
"There are rules in war," Rousman said. "There is always the possibility to kill two minutes before a cease-fire. Two minutes after, the German would have had to stand before a judge. That's the difference."
At the St. Symphorien cemetery just outside Mons, Price, the last Commonwealth soldier killed in the war, lies a stone's throw from Parr, the first.
"He is not forgotten," Rousman said of Price. "It's a soldier whose tomb is often draped in flowers."
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, a photo of French WWI soldier Augustin Trebuchon hangs on a wall outside a cemetery in Vrigne-Meuse, France. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo) (Virginia Mayo/)
‘Part of this great patriotic momentum’
Trebuchon's grave stands out because of the date, underscoring the random fortunes of war.
He was a shepherd from France's Massif Central and could have avoided the war as a family breadwinner at age 36.
"But he was part of this great patriotic momentum," said Jean-Christophe Chanot, the mayor of Vrigne-Meuse, where he died.
Trebuchon knew misery as part of France’s most brutal battles — Marne, Somme, Verdun. He survived right up to his last order, to tell soldiers where to gather after the armistice.
Instead, his body was found with a bullet wound to the head. He was recognized as "the last French soldier killed during the last French attack against the Germans," Chanot said.
The date on his grave — Nov. 10, 1918 — remains controversial, even if it was meant to soothe a family's sorrow.
"It was a lie, without a question," said Czubak, the French historian.
Photojournalist Virginia Mayo and video journalist Mark Carlson contributed.
In this file photo taken on April 3, 2017, the bones of soldiers are piled in a crypt at the Douaumont Ossuary in Verdun, France. Hundreds of troops died on the final morning of World War I -- even after an armistice was reached and before it came into force. Death at literally the 11th hour highlighted the futility of a conflict that had become even more incomprehensible in four years of battle. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File) (Virginia Mayo/)
A Pittsburgh police officer walks past the Tree of Life Synagogue and a memorial of flowers and stars in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in remembrance of those killed and injured when a shooter opened fire during services Saturday at the synagogue. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
It's been two weeks since the heartbreaking massacre at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue, and days since the Thousand Oaks massacre. Unlike equally horrific atrocities, this time I just can't seem to grieve and move on. Do I value one group of victims over others? Are Jewish elders a greater loss than young people at a bar? Of course not. So where lies the discord? Every society since the beginning of time has suffered irreconcilable loss, but in my grieving mind, the distinction seems to fall into three categories: accident, mental cognizance and intent.
As a society, accidents happen. So we work to foresee, forewarn and strengthen our defense mechanisms. We also have neighbors who lack mental capacity to understand the consequences of thought and action. And sadly, the majority of incidents triggered by mental disability have years of red-flag moments which, through foresight and intervention, could radically reduce pain and suffering for all. Like minimizing accidents, we're working on mental health intervention, but lack of unity and easy access to life-threatening weapons indicate we have a long way to go. But a society with unified values can manage predictable inevitability with mutual respect, grace and powerful results.
Just as the Judeo-Christian admonition to love your neighbor as yourself is a reasoned, intentional choice, so is hate. Both can be fueled by action, both can be overpowered, and both start at the top, with women and men in positions of power and influence. Like the values that form through years of parental guidance, and the influence that transcends a teacher's classroom, leadership shapes the character of a nation in one direction, or another. Organized hate based on race, sex and religion has reared its ugly head throughout our history, but we've always overcome through the power of moral leadership and unified expression.
Recent expressions of hate-fueled political discourse from the highest pinnacles of power appear, in my mind, to be energizing expressions of disunity and degradation that we, as a nation, had tempered to manageable levels until the last few years. As the midterm elections become our new reality, my hope is that our neighbors will join in a unified voice and organized demand for politicians to humble themselves and seek a road to recovery from the direction we're headed.
Like Martin Luther King Jr., I had a dream that on the day of the Pittsburgh massacre, our president canceled his political rally and called Congress into special session for a unified, soul-searching period of introspection and commitment to reunification — a unified "we've had enough" declaration, national apology and commitment to something more than a bad hair day.
Love can overpower hate. It simply requires action.
Frank Prewitt is a former Alaska State Trooper, forensic social worker, Assistant Attorney General, Director of Alaska Psychiatric Institute and Commissioner of Corrections.
Healing totem in Juneau channels a higher voice to strengthen survivors of domestic violence and sex assault
In this photo taken Oct. 31, 2018, Wayne Price, master Tlingit carver and associate professor of Northwest Coast arts and sciences, works on a healing pole at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire via AP)
JUNEAU — Even the wood chips in Wayne Price's ongoing project have meaning.
The master Tlingit carver and University of Alaska Southeast faculty member is deep into the process of creating a healing totem pole for Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies, Juneau's gender-inclusive shelter for survivors of gender-based violence. The finished totem will tell a story created by Price's wife, Cherri, but the cedar chips carved off the main log are symbolic, too.
"This came about when I had a vision in a sweat lodge, which led to my own personal recovery," Price told the Capital City Weekly after putting some painting on pause in his UAS workshop. "In that sweat, I was granted a vision and told I had to create a healing totem or dugout, and I asked, 'How does it become a healing totem or dugout?' I was told by my creator, that keeps me sober, that each chip that comes off this totem represents a life that's been affected by domestic violence or sexual assault. Of all the chips that come off this totem, there won't be enough. That helps to bring awareness through my art to a pretty serious situation."
Since his vision 15 years ago, Price has made four healing totems and five healing dugouts that have raised awareness for causes including boarding school atrocities against Alaska Natives, and misuse of alcohol and drugs.
"Every healing totem and healing canoe that I've been involved with has led to the creation of another one," Price said. "I've gone from one healing project right into another one soon after, which tells me we're involved in a great time of healing, that we in the human race want to deal with a great healing in our lives."
He said the work for AWARE feels particularly necessary.
"If there's ever been a healing totem that's been needed, it's really been this one," Price said. "One in three women are involved or know someone involved in this crime."
Mandy Cole, deputy director for AWARE, said Price's history with recovery also adds an element that may make the work extra relatable for survivors who sometimes turn to substances to cope with traumatic events before starting their healing journey.
"I think working with the dimension of survivorship and recovery tells a fuller story that I think will make a lot of sense to the people we're serving," Cole said.
Cole also said she's been pleased by the collaboration between AWARE and Price, and impressed with the artist's work.
"Wayne is an incredibly special person, and we found each other in a way that's kind of larger than maybe any of us understood," Cole said. "One of the things I'm learning from him is healing is a journey, and you can't necessarily predict what it's going to look like. I think we're learning from Wayne, and he's learning from us, and that process is incredibly meaningful. Having someone who's a master ask you what you think or feel about things is incredibly validating, and you don't get that all the time. I think we're so lucky to have found him."
Logging long hours
The 22-foot totem pole has been a work in progress for more than a year.
Price was first approached by AWARE about the possibility of creating a healing totem when he was working in Haines, and the project soon ran into a complication.
"First, the log we selected that came from the shelter site proved to be rotten, and we had to secure another log, and we did," Price said. "We secured a log from Thorne Bay, and brought it up to Haines, and that was not this last August, but it was the August before."
Price worked on the totem until winter chased him inside. He resumed work in spring, and then continued to work through summer in Haines.
"Then we got involved with being a professor here at UAS, we brought the Jibba dugout as well as the healing totem to the Egan Library site, where I've been working on it off and on as I learn the ropes for teaching my classes here," Price said.
In the next few weeks, Price said he expects to finish the totem, and it will be erected in the spring.
The location of the totem remains undecided as does the exact date that it will be put up.
"We're trying to get the people invited who we wanted to honor as well, so right now, it's kind of an amazing, complicated logistical progress in work," Cole said. "The reason it's not set in stone is that it's really about the people who care. We're trying to really make it meaningful for the community."
The design and the story
Cherri Price came up with the concept of the totem's design, which contains a lot of AWARE-specific symbolism.
The pole is named "Kaasei," which is a Tlingit word that means "higher voice," and is also the name of an AWARE transitional housing building. The story told by "Kaasei's" design deals in themes connected to domestic violence and sexual assault.
Cherri Price shared the story told by the pole with the Capital City Weekly.
"A strong calm Tlingit woman wearing a traditional fringed dress and wooden hat bearing her name 'Kaasei,' is the prominent figure. In her right arm she holds a happy baby boy. Next to her heart she holds a feather, the symbol of her voice and empowerment.
"A young girl lovingly hugs the woman, feeling safe at Kaasei's side and secure under her arm.
"Kaasei stands on the top of a tear box. The tear box sits above oppressive paths of violence and abuse littered with pain, wounds, brokenness, sadness, torment and fear. They spiral down to empty darkness and despair.
"Above Kaasei's head are healing paths of peace and safety, bright with hope, happy faces, songs of peace, words of kindness, gentle healing hands and symbols of traditional values. The AWARE logo is on the higher path. A large dove, the symbol of peace, sits on top of the totem."
Wayne Price said the various healing projects have a positive affect, and he hopes bringing awareness to this particular cause can help stop domestic and sexual abuse.
"I do believe in the long run it does help," Wayne Price said. "A lot of times we as humans don't really know how to take the first step in a healing process. We're very capable of doing it, we just don't know how. What I do as an artist, is I provide a monument that does just that. It provides a step in that direction. It's wonderful to be involved in such a project."
If someone needs to take a step, Cole said, anyone struggling with gender-based violence can call AWARE at 907-586-1090.
A soggy grab bag of snow, rain and freezing rain is likely to stick around Anchorage for most of Sunday, bringing with it high winds to some areas of town.
After 2 to 5 inches of snow fell overnight, the temperature warmed enough to prompt the National Weather Service to issue a warning about freezing rain lasting until early afternoon.
After that, a steady mixture of rain, snow and freezing rain is expected to fall until late afternoon or early evening, said NWS meteorologist Dave Percy.
Winds are expected to reach up to 50 mph on the Anchorage Hillside and along Turnagain Arm on Sunday night.
Temperatures should stay above freezing overnight, so the roads should be more wet than icy by the Monday morning commute, Percy said.
"Real slushy slop," he said.
Bowling Green struck early and UAA struck out on the power play Saturday night at Sullivan Arena.
The 10th-ranked Falcons scored two first-period goals and held UAA scoreless on eight power-play chances to grab a 3-0 victory in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association game.
The game ended a scoreless weekend for the Seawolves (1-6-1 overall, 0-5-1 WCHA). They scraped out a tie on Friday night but the game was a scoreless draw — the Falcons earned an extra point in the standings by scoring a goal in the second overtime period, when teams skate 3-on-3.
A crowd of 2,269 watched Bowling Green jump to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Lukas Craggs and Connor Ford.
Craggs scored first on a rebound during a power play. He batted the puck out of the air and past UAA goalie Kris Carlson, who had stopped the initial shot by Cameron Wright.
Ford made it 2-0 with 12 seconds left in the period. It was the first of two goals for the sophomore, who scored again early in the second period on Wright's second assist of the night.
The Falcons (7-2-2, 2-1-1) outshot UAA 26-25. Carlson finished with 23 saves and Bowling Gree goalie Ryan Bednard had 25.
The series was the last home appearance for the Seawolves until Jan. 4-5. They begin a long stretch of road games this weekend when they travel to Northern Michigan.
The World War II-era, truss-style bridge at Mile 1309 of the Alaska Highway near Tok. The bridge has been replaced by a temporary detour bridge and a permanent replacement is scheduled to be in place by October 2019. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities via AP)
FAIRBANKS — A World War II-era bridge on the Alaska Highway is nearing its last days.
The truss-style bridge over the Tok River has been replaced by a temporary detour bridge and will be permanently replaced with a new bridge by October 2019, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The old bridge had exceeded its design life of 50 years, said Danielle Tessen, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
"The cost for inspection and maintenance would exceed the cost of a new bridge," she said.
The old bridge is at Mile 1309 between Tok and the Canadian border. It was built between 1943 and 1944 and was the last truss-style bridge remaining between Canada and Anchorage.
The bridge at Mile 1309 of the Alaska Highway near Tok. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities via AP)
Tessen suspects the federal Alaska Road Commission hired a contractor to build the bridge. DOT hired a historian to document it.
Crews began its demolition Oct. 26. Lead paint covers the bridge. Alaska has no facility to deal with that hazard, Tessen said, so scraps will be sent to the Lower 48 for abatement.
A detour was required so the new bridge could be built in the same location, keeping the road straight and reducing construction delays.
The new bridge will require foundation, piling and abutment work. It comes with a cost of $9.9 million and a projected 75-year life span. HC Contractors was awarded the contract.
The new overpass will eliminate height restrictions for oversize loads. The previous clearance was 15 feet, 8 inches because of trusses.
The bridge also will be bigger: 360 feet long and 43 feet wide, up from 250 feet long and 30 feet wide.
UTQIAGVIK — People in the nation's northernmost community are celebrating the end of a successful fall whaling season, but it also has been a time of mourning after the recent deaths of two whale hunters.
The season wrapped up in Utqiagvik in late October, Alaska's Energy Desk reported. Subsistence hunters in the town formerly known as Barrow brought in their full quota of 19 bowhead whales.
The last whale was brought ashore by whaling captain Ross Wilhelm and his crew, with help from others. A few days later, Wilhelm and his wife hosted a gathering at their home to share the whale meat.
In early October, whaling Capt. Roxy Oyagak Jr. and crew member Ron Kanayurak died when their boat capsized while they were towing a bowhead home.
Their deaths are being reviewed by the Barrow Whaling Captains Association.
At the recent gathering at the Wilhelm home, people joined hands to pray in Inupiaq and voice their gratitude for the bowhead.
The prayer was broadcast over VHF radio. The broadcast also announced the whale meat was ready for serving. That prompted a stream of people who showed up at the home.
"It's just what puts us together, is the whale, the bowhead whale. Just gets us all together," Wilhelm said.
The deaths of his peers shook Wilhelm, he said.
"I'd make myself look bad if I said it doesn't scare me," he said. But he added he's not deterred from whaling.
Many in town are mourning the deaths, but the dedication to continue whaling remains strong, according to whaling Capt. Crawford Patkotak.
"For the most part our people are able to rebound and continue our life, our culture," he said. "And knowing that Roxy and Ron would have it no other way, they would want us to continue our culture."
The Dimond Lynx celebrate their fourth straight Class 4A state volleyball championship. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
Try as they might for four years running, no one's put a dent in the volleyball dominance of the Dimond Lynx.
Bolstered by a senior-laden roster led by Mia Ekstrand, Alissa Pili and Madde Shockey, Dimond needed only 76 minutes to dispatch upstart West in three sets at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 victory gave the Lynx their fourth consecutive Class 4A state championship and their 10th under longtime coach Kim Lauwers.
"A team of best friends, I trust them with my entire heart," said Ekstrand, who delivered the match-point kill from the middle of the net on her way to matching Pili with a team-high 12 kills. "We've felt a lot of pressure these last few years because it seemed not everyone wanted to see us do well.
"I'm so proud of the way we all were able to channel that pressure, put it on to the court and make it into something good. Not everyone who plays this game is capable of doing that."
Dimond won all four of this week's matches in three-set sweeps, beating Colony, South and West twice. The Lynx completed their campaign with a 23-0 match record against Alaska opponents.
Ekstrand's final kill landed untouched deep in West's side of the court. Within seconds, the Lynx piled joyously together on the gym floor. Then they formed a large circle with their fellow classmates — many with faces painted in Dimond maroon and gold — and sang the school's fight song.
Pili, one of Dimond's 10 seniors, finished with 11 digs and continued to add to her impressive high school resume. She's a four-time champ in volleyball and a one-time champ in basketball, and she owns five individual state titles — three in shot put, one in discus and one in wrestling.
The 2017-18 Max Preps Sports national female athlete of the year, Pili will take her talents to the University of Southern California next year to play basketball for the Trojans.
Lynx junior Hahni Johnson totaled 24 assists and 10 digs, and Shockey added six kills and seven blocks.
West’s Savrina Paul spikes the ball past Dimond defenders Gwenna Nichols, left, and Hahni Johnson. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
West, playing in its first state tournament since it finished second in 2005, gave Dimond all it could handle, especially in the first two sets.
The Eagles, who last won a state championship in 1984, led the first set by as many as six points and registered the first four points of the second set while jumping to an early 11-7 advantage.
The title match capped an eventful stretch for the Eagles. First, they won a marathon five-set match over Bartlett in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament to earn third place and a state berth. Earlier Saturday, they slipped past South, the CIC's second-best team most of the season, in five sets to reach the finale, losing powerful senior outside hitter Alize Taliauli to injury in the process.
"Like most teams, we battled a lot of different injuries and played with a lot of different lineups," said West coach April Stahl. "It means the world to me to see the way this team trusted its coaches and each other to come out and accomplish all of this.
The Eagles received huge contributions from seniors Brooke Dexter and Kelsey Ross and should have a bright future with the likes of freshman Hazel Allen in their lineup for the next few seasons.
Ekstrand was more than happy to credit West on its state tournament run.
"West always plays strong against us," she said. "They have a really big blockers and know how to keep us out of systems. They didn't let us come out super strong and we kind of had to chase ourselves.
"Finding a way to win against that team felt really good."
So does leaving a legacy. Dimond is the third team in Alaska history to win four straight state titles, joining Service (1989-1992) and Valdez (2001-2004).
Ekstrand credited Lauwers for the success. Lauwers has been Dimond's coach for 29 seasons, which she sandwiched around her stint as the head coach at UAA, where she coached Stahl in the late 1990s.
"We had some great former players to look up to and I hope future Lynx look up to us," Ekstrand said. "All of us have one of the best coaches anyone could ever ask for in the entire state.
"Always listen to Lauwers. Every idea or suggestion she has, take it and utilize it because she's a wise woman."
ASAA/First National Bank Class 4A volleyball championships
Consolation semifinal — West def. South, 25-17, 25-14, 19-25, 17-25, 15-13
Championship — Dimond def. West, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21
Alissa Pili, Dimond
Audrey Welling, Thunder Mountain
Brooke Dexter, Thunder Mountain
Erin Doner, South
Danika Brown, West
Hahni Johnson, Dimond
Hallee Yundt, Colony
Isabel List, Colony
Ituau Tuisaula, Soldotna
Kelsey Ross, West
Kylie Hurd, South
Reilly Plumhoff, Dimond
Eagle River 7, Bartlett 0
Kayla Reifel shot a 290 to lead Eagle River past Bartlett in a Cook Inlet Conference riflery meet Friday in Eagle River.
Four other Eagle River shooters fired scores of 280 or better.
Eagle River 3,341 Bartlett 2,883
Eagle River (1,138) — Kayla Reifel 290, Emma Mackenzie 284, Maddie Bidinger 283, Ava Perkins 281.
Bartlett (1,049) — Katherine Vuocolo 266, Victoria Arnold 265, Aeryn Maze 262, Briana Cook 256.
Eagle River (1,115) — Sierra Wanca 280, Lindsey Foshee 279, Zachary Keith 278, Abigail Foger 278.
Bartlett (974) — Jesyka Clayton 248, Joshua Johnson 245, Nahmiyess Newmen 241, Dakota Brown 240.
Eagle River (1,088) — Rylee Price 275, Jonah Wegener 275, Avery Caldwell 270, Cayden Shade 268.
Bartlett (860) — Nicksen Vang 237, Curtis Harris 230, Robert Schmitt 200, Mason Street 193.
Service 7, South 0
Rachel Rohwer's match-high score of 289 included a perfect 100 in the prone position, an effort that sparked Service's 7-0 win over host South.
Service 3,281, South 3,149
Service (1,139) — Rachel Rohwer 289, Matthew Ross 287, Wrangle Kruckenberg 285, Josephine Baty 278.
South (1,128) — Grace Fernandez 288, Michael Stoddard 285, Faythe Morris 282, Madison Thompson 273.
Service (1,094) — Theodore Chau 277, Gabriela Zych 274, Alanna Curtis 272, Stefani Martinez 271.
South (1,063) — Kylee Wagendorf 270, Roman Snyder 266, Kimberly Jettenberg 266, Carsen Myren 261.
Service (1,048) — Gabriella Ximenez 267, Valentina Gutierrez 267, Aidan Cooper 261, Jordan Racicot 253.
South (958) — Darin Hanley 261, Logan Custer 259, Travis Hemstreet 222, Eric Marshall 216.
East 4, Chugiak 3
East took two of three matches to earn a 4-3 home-range win over Chugiak.
The Thunderbirds got a 279 from Laurel Scheel to key the A team's win. East also won the B team match, with Chugiak getting the win in the C team competition.
Owen Crumley shot a 271 to lead Chugiak.
East 3,006, Chugiak 2,925
Chugiak (1,063) — Owen Crumley 271; Otis Eads 266; Ruth Taygan 263; Michael Sorensen 263.
East (1,104) — Laurel Scheel 279; Jen Johnson 278; Maiger Yang 276; Ceezenger Yang 271.
Chugiak (1,017) — Braden Shackleford 260; Dahlia Hicks 255; Abby Raynes 251; Robert Weber 251.
East (1,033) — Allison Klebs 268; Colin Ede 259; Eva Easton 255; Connor MacInnis 251.
Chugiak (926) — Colton Sinerius 250; Anthony Van Weel 240; Tanner Betts 225; Callie Gates 211.
East (788) — James Higgins 234; Courtney Kofoid 234; Jonathan Gates 204; Debra Schwenke 116.
Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy announced Saturday he will be sworn in next month in the Northwest Alaska village of Noorvik, his wife's hometown.
The village, on the Kobuk River and with a population of around 700, is home to Dunleavy's wife, Rose, and extended family. The swearing-in, on Dec. 3, will be followed by an inauguration ceremony in Wasilla on Dec. 4, Dunleavy's transition organization said in a statement.
"The decision to hold the swearing-in ceremony in Noorvik was made by the governor-elect himself, in an effort to honor and recognize residents of rural Alaska, whom he called neighbors for almost 20 years," it said.
Dunleavy was superintendent of schools for the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, based in Kotzebue, and later was elected to the state Senate from Wasilla, where he lives with his family.
Dunleavy also announced that Rina Salazar of Anchorage and Cynthia Henry of Fairbanks will serve as inaugural event co-chairs. Dunleavy spoke Saturday night to the Alaska Outdoor Council banquet in Fairbanks.
The UAA men's basketball team let a slim lead slip away in the final minutes Saturday to absorb its first loss of the season.
Up by three points with about four minutes remaining, the Seawolves were doomed by a late Chaminade run in a 71-62 setback in Honolulu.
Chaminade (2-0) outscored UAA 13-1 in the final minutes to pull out the victory.
"In the last three minutes we did not respond on either end," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said in a release from the school. "Poor defensive containment and rebounding hurt on one end, and poor decisions hurt offensively. But we are a new group and getting better each week."
Junior Tyler Brimhall, a transfer from North Idaho College, continued to dominate for UAA (3-1). He pumped in 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting to improve his scoring average to 21 points per game and grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds.
Jack Macdonald, a veteran guard, added 13 points and four assists, and newcomer Niko Bevens and veteran Brennan Rymer both dropped in nine points, with Rymer adding a career-high six rebounds.
UAA trailed 9-0 at the start of the game but came back to tie it 29-29 at the half. But the Seawolves, who shot 56.6 percent in Friday's 83-79 win over Hawaii Pacific, hit 39.3 percent of their shots from the field and were a sub-par 10 of 19 from the foul line.
"It was a hard-fought, tough game," Osborne said. "We dug out of an early hole and gave ourselves a chance, but missed free throws by excellent shooters kept us from extending the lead."
Chaminade, a Pac West Conference team that shot 48.9 percent, had four players in double figures. Erik Scheive led the way with a game-high 19 points.
The Seawolves continue their nonconference schedule with games against Northwood on Friday and Lake Superior State on Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Dressed in thrift-store clothes her players went shopping for before the game, coach Stacey Segura (with clipboard) celebrates the final point in Nikiski’s state-championship victory Saturday. Jumping for joy is Kaycee Bostic (12). (Loren Holmes / ADN)
Nikiski volleyball coach Stacey Segura came dressed to cringe for the Class 3A state championship match, but her players came dressed to kill. And block. And dig.
The Bulldogs, who dressed their coach in clothes they bought at a thrift store earlier in the day, beat Valdez in the if-necessary match to claim the state championship Saturday afternoon at the Alaska Airlines Center.
It was the first state title for the Bulldogs since 2000, when Segura was a seventh grader and this season's seniors were learning to crawl.
Nikiski beat Barrow, Valdez and Grace Christian during the first two days of the double-elimination tournament to sail into the championship match.
There, the Bulldogs faced a rematch with defending champion Valdez, which beat Grace in a Saturday morning match to earn a shot at the title.
Nikiski’s Bethany Carstens spikes the ball while Valdez’s Ally Seiber (8) and Jade Watts (1) defend. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
Valdez, led by all-tournament picks Kassandra Howard and Sydney Johnson, prevailed 25-17, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22 to force the if-necessary game. The Bulldogs seized control early in the extra set to clinch the championship with a 30-22 victory.
Powering Nikiski in the five sets against Valdez were Bethany Carstens (19 kills, 8 blocks), Kaycee Bostic (12 kills, 29 digs), Kaitlyn Johnson (10 kills, 21 assists) and Emma Wik (23 assists).
The stat of the day belonged to senior Kelsey Clark, who came through with 55 digs.
"She was all over the place," said Segura, a 2006 Nikiski graduate. "She played so steady and amazing and got so many wonderful digs. I can't say that enough."
The game evoked memories of the 2016 championship match, when Nikiski stumbled big-time. Like Valdez this year, Mt. Edgecumbe came through the losers bracket and forced the if-necessary game. Unlike this year, Nikiski wasn't up to the challenge.
"It was a huge surprise to be that far and we were star-struck," Segura said. "We were struggling with the intensity of it and forgetting to play point for point."
This time, the Bulldogs were more relaxed. Their coach had promised they could dress her in thrift-store clothes if they made it to the championship, so before the match they made a trip to Value Village, where they chose a blazer with shoulder pads and a pair of white pants.
"I was very much uncomfortable," Segura said of the ensemble.
Angela Druesedow passes the ball for Nikiski. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
After losing the initial match to Valdez, the Bulldogs left the gym and gathered in a hallway.
"I wanted to reset," Segura said. "I told them either way, everyone's proud of them; stay positive and play with intensity.
"They were ready to fight. They were not going to let it get away from them."
ASAA/First National Bank state volleyball championships
Consolation semifinal — Valdez def. Grace Christian 25-15, 25-22, 25-17
Championship — Valdez def. Nikiski 29-27, 25-17, 25-19
If-necessary — Nikiski def. Valdez 30-22
Bethany Carstens, Nikiski
Kassandra Howard, Valdez
Briana Master, Grace Christian
Kastyn Lie, Nome
Brianna Hetrick, Homer
Chloe Maynard, Monroe
Megan Cowell, Grace Christian
Kelsey Clark, Nikiski
Amy Bioff, Mt. Edgecumbe
Marina Carroll, Homer
Kaitlyn Johnson, Nikiski
Sydney Johnson, Valdez
The Zheng drug trafficking organization was hardly clandestine. The Shanghai-based network sold synthetic narcotics, including deadly fentanyl, on websites posted in 35 languages, from Arabic and English to Icelandic and Uzbek.
The Chinese syndicate bragged that its laboratory could "synthesize nearly any" drug and that it churned out 16 tons of illicit chemicals a month. The group was so adept at smuggling, and so brazen in its marketing, that it offered a money-back guarantee to buyers if its goods were seized by U.S. or other customs agents.
Over the last decade, federal officials say, the Zheng group mailed and shipped fentanyl and similar illicit chemicals to customers in more than 25 countries and 35 U.S. states. U.S. officials say the syndicate's success, laid bare in a recent federal indictment, partly helps explain America's skyrocketing death toll from drug overdoses.
Fentanyl — 50 times more potent than heroin _ and related laboratory-crafted drugs have become the No. 1 cause of opioid-related overdose deaths. And rogue chemical companies in China — operating openly and outside the reach of U.S. authorities _ are the largest single source of the deadly drugs, law enforcement officials say.
“People in labs in China are producing this substance that is killing Americans,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in an interview. “This is a real crisis. The Chinese government has the ability to stop this if they want to. We believe they should want to do that.”
U.S. officials have pushed Beijing to shut down the labs, and say Chinese authorities have taken steps to police chemical makers. The push comes even as relations with Beijing have grown acrimonious amid an escalating trade war and U.S. unease over China's increasing economic and military clout.
Nearly 29,000 people died last year in the United States from overdoses linked to synthetic opioids, a category that experts say is dominated by fentanyl and its chemical cousins _ a staggering surge from the 3,100 such deaths reported in 2013.
One reason for the increase: The drug is so powerful that a sugar-packet-sized bag of it can contain 500 lethal doses. That also means it can be smuggled through the mail in what officials call micro-shipments, which are far harder to identify and interdict than bulkier loads of heroin, cocaine or marijuana.
Chinese companies send fentanyl in small quantities to dealers in the United States or Canada, but ship the drugs in bulk to criminal cartels in Mexico. The cartels then mix the synthetics into heroin and other substances, or press them into counterfeit pills. The product is then smuggled across the border.
A bag of heroin fentanyl pills, as seen on July 2, 2018. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) (DEA/)
While total fentanyl seizures more than doubled last year, to 1,196 pounds, officials say far more of the illicit drug is getting through. Some of the biggest fentanyl busts have been in California because of the Mexican connection.
In September, for example, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized 52 pounds of powdered fentanyl at the Pine Valley checkpoint near San Diego _ and that wasn't a record. In December, officers discovered nearly 80 pounds in a college student's car.
This summer, authorities discovered 20,000 fentanyl pills in a hidden compartment of a Mini Cooper at the San Ysidro checkpoint _ a week after confiscating 11,500 pills in another vehicle.
U.S. drug dealers also purchase directly from China with a few clicks of a computer mouse on company websites or in so-called dark web drug bazaars, where communications are encrypted and dealers often pay with cryptocurrencies or gift cards that are difficult to trace.
A 33-year-old Long Beach man, for example, was sentenced in June to more than 26 years in federal prison for illegally importing chemicals in bulk from China, including a fentanyl analog, and then producing tens of thousands of pills in a homemade lab.
When agents raided his lab, federal prosecutors said, they seized more than 11 kilograms of acetyl fentanyl, an analog 15 times more powerful than morphine. During a nine-month span, prosecutors said, the Long Beach lab sold an estimated 300,000 pills nationwide.
In Salt Lake City, a former Eagle Scout is awaiting trial after he and five others were charged with turning his mother's basement into a illicit pill lab. When her house was raided in November 2016, police found 70,000 pills laced with fentanyl and $1.2 million in cash, prosecutors said. The group allegedly sold hundreds of thousands of the pills on the dark web.
The ease with which dealers can buy fentanyl from China "is a challenge because it's creating traffickers who are not affiliated with larger organizations or with cartels," said Paul Knierim, a top Drug Enforcement Administration official.
It isn't hard to find fentanyl and similar drugs on the Internet, and sales tactics rival those of online retailers, according to federal investigators.
"A simple Google search of 'fentanyl for sale' returned a number of potential sellers," according to a Senate Homeland Security Committee report released in January.
It said investigators, "posing as a first-time fentanyl purchaser," had contacted six online sellers overseas, and each offered to ship purchases to the United States _ sometimes with aggressive salesmanship.
The sellers "actively negotiated ... to complete a deal by offering flash sales on certain illicit opioids and discounted prices for bulk purchases," the report said. When investigators "failed to immediately respond to an offer, the online sellers proactively followed up, sometimes offering deeper discounts to entice a sale."
Fentanyl was developed decades ago as an ultra-powerful painkiller _ 100 times more potent than morphine _ for use in surgery. It is still used to help hospice-level cancer patients.
Drug dealers began dabbling in the drug in the mid-2000s, but it surged in popularity in 2014 and 2015 because it was easy to obtain and hugely profitable.
A $1,500 kilogram can bring $1.5 million in profits after the drug is cut and sold on the street, according to the DEA.
There was only one place to obtain the drug: China. It has a robust chemical and pharmaceutical sector, as well as lax regulations and widespread corruption.
"Regulatory gaps have led to a large increase in the number of unlicensed or 'semi-legitimate' chemical manufacturers or distributors," Bryce Pardo, an analyst from the RAND Corp. think tank, recently told Congress.
"A lack of oversight and government and corporate accountability increase opportunities for corruption," he added.
Chinese dealers targeted a loophole that let them send packages to the United States through the mail without providing detailed information on the sender or the contents of the package. Private carriers such as FedEx and UPS are required to provide such information to customs inspectors, which can help authorities identify smugglers and smuggling patterns.
Congress last month passed legislation designed to close that gap, and President Trump is expected to sign it into law.
U.S. officials long have pressed China to more aggressively police its chemical manufacturers, and China has strictly regulated the production of 175 chemicals, including fentanyl and some of its analogs.
That chemical-by-chemical approach, however, permits drug companies to tweak chemical formulas to get around a ban.
U.S. officials want China to follow the lead of the DEA, which in February used emergency powers to categorize fentanyl-related substances as controlled substances under federal law. The move was designed to make it easier to prosecute offenders and to prevent chemists from slightly altering formulas.
A Chinese Embassy representative in Washington declined to comment, but forwarded remarks made by Hua Chunying, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, at a January news conference in Beijing.
"Anti-drug cooperation is one of the highlights of China-U.S. law enforcement cooperation," Hua said. "In recent years, the two sides have conducted some highly effective cooperation on cracking down on cross-border drug-related crimes and advancing psychoactive substance listing and control, which has won wide approval from the public of the two sides. China's attitude on this issue is very clear."
The Justice Department has brought charges against several Chinese manufacturers of synthetic opioids. They are unlikely to end up in U.S. courtrooms because Washington and Beijing do not have an extradition treaty, and China has generally refused to send its citizens to the United States for criminal trials.
In October 2017, the Justice Department unveiled the first indictment against Chinese manufacturers of opioids, accusing two groups of operating illicit labs that sold fentanyl and other drugs to U.S. dealers. The rings were vast _ one involved at least 100 distributors _ and authorities were able to trace at least four deaths to fentanyl and related chemicals sold by one of the groups, court records show.
Then in August, federal prosecutors in Cleveland unveiled a 43-count indictment against the Zheng organization. The indictment alleged that Fujing Zheng, 35, and his father, Guanghua Zheng, 62, both of Shanghai, ran a global organization that manufactured tons of illicit chemicals each month.
U.S. officials said the Zhengs were adept at staying ahead of regulators _ and police. When China banned unregulated production of one synthetic narcotic, officials said, the Zhengs used their expertise to adjust the formula to skirt the prohibitions and keep the drugs flowing.
"We work diligently to make every possible chemical to meet the needs of our customers," the Zhengs wrote on one of their websites, according to court papers. "We will create custom-made products for you."
To get their product to U.S. customers, the Zhengs often relied on middlemen who hid the drugs in bulk freight shipments and then helped redistribute them. Prosecutors said that helped obscure the narcotics' origins.
The Zhengs could not be reached for comment for this story.
But their operation has had a deadly effect halfway across the world. In February 2015, Leroy Steele, 38, a small-time drug dealer in the Akron, Ohio, area, sent the Zheng organization an email seeking to purchase acetyl fentanyl, according to court papers.
"Send me prices as well as information on where I can send the money," Steele wrote.
A member of the Zheng group quickly replied, prosecutors alleged, and claimed he represented a "professional acetyl fentanyl manufacturer in China," and that "our products are all best quality, a lot of U.S. and Europe customers purchase largely from us every month."
"Tell me how many quantity you wanna buy," the member wrote. "Do you wanna have a sample order?"
Steele wired the Zhengs $3,500 for half a kilogram of the narcotic.
The dealer, who later would be sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges, soon was slinging heroin laced with acetyl fentanyl to his customers, prosecutors said.
Within a few weeks, federal officials said, two of Steele’s customers, a 37-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, were dead _ from overdoses.
Claire McCaskill supporter Daria Locher, a junior at Washington University from New York, watches as CNN reports poor numbers for McCaskill during a post-election gathering at the Majestic Ballroom in the Marriott St. Louis Grand on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. "I'm sad, I knocked on over a 1,000 doors and it doesn't even look like it's going to be close," said Locher, who canvased for McCaskill. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS) (David Carson/)
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Democrats in Missouri, once a potent force in state politics, were relegated to the wilderness by Missouri voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Just two years ago, the Show-Me state had Democratic officeholders spread throughout state government. Offices of the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney general and U.S. Senate were all in Democratic hands.
Now, Auditor Nicole Galloway, who won Tuesday over Republican Saundra McDowell, is the lone Democrat standing after U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill lost her re-election bid to Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley.
And, analysts say, there is no clear path back to relevance in a state in which rural red areas are becoming more dominant in deciding the outcome of statewide races.
"The playing field for Democrats looks terrible for Democrats this morning," University of Missouri-St. Louis political scientist Dave Robertson said Wednesday.
Up until two years ago, Democrats were able to win by cobbling together coalitions of urban and suburban voters and identifying with residents in some areas that have now turned deep red.
In 2016, for example, then-Attorney General Chris Koster was able to gain the support of Republican-leaning organizations such as the Missouri Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association in his quest to beat Republican Eric Greitens.
But Trump's 19-point victory that year, and Greitens' outsider campaign, erased the crossover appeal of Koster's candidacy.
In the case of Galloway, her vote totals show her winning in the Democratic strongholds of the St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia areas, but failing to pick up many counties in the rest of the state. If not for her Republican opponent's well-documented financial problems, Galloway's election night might have mirrored McCaskill's.
Robertson said the future for Democrats would depend largely on picking the right candidates and finding cracks to fill in the Republican agenda on issues such as economic stability.
"Individual candidates have a way sometimes of finding a sweet spot, like (former Gov.) Jay Nixon did," Robertson said. "In part, this is going to depend on the quality of the candidates and their skill at finding an agenda that appeals to a large number of Missourians."
To do that, Democrats will have to listen to people in rural areas to determine how they can fit in.
Rep. Bruce Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, said members of his party must work with lawmakers from rural Missouri to forge better ties and bring the state together.
"I think that's a big part of it, being able to work across the aisle," Franks said. "We do have a lot of commonalities. We do have a lot of common interests."
He said Democrats needed to find a way to motivate voters as they did in the city of St. Louis Tuesday, where more than 59 percent of the registered voters went to the polls.
"How can we duplicate that across the state?" Franks said. "I am absolutely disappointed in the results. But, I know we still have to fight. We've got to patch it up and get out there. 2020 will be there before we know it."
Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, said the Democratic rebuilding process could take longer than two years.
"The party infrastructure had really deteriorated over the years," Kendrick said. "It's going to take us a while."
Robertson said Democrats "need to find ways to make themselves credible in delivering on that agenda. The rejection of Claire McCaskill by just about every county in the state really speaks volumes about the condition of the Democratic Party at this point. Democrats need to find out what kinds of ways they are perceived as unsafe for voters," he added.
For the time being, Stephen Webber, the chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, will be the one to lead the party out of its morass.
Webber could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday, but he did find some reasons to cheer Tuesday night.
Webber retweeted a message offering congratulations to voters who approved a phased-in increase in the state's minimum wage, long a Democratic initiative.
"You just raised the minimum wage for 677,000 of your hardworking neighbors," read the tweet from the campaign committee supporting the amendment.
Franks said Webber's two-year tenure at the helm of the party operation had been a positive one.
"I'll be the first person to say this. I think our Democratic Party is years better than what it was in 2016," Franks said. "I think Stephen Webber has done an excellent job. I think the Democratic Party and their entire staff has done a good job."
Kendrick, too, credited Webber for jump-starting the rebuilding process.
"We feel like the foundation has been laid. It's going to take time," Kendrick said.
But others could step up to bolster the party's chances in the future.
Cort VanOstran, who lost to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner of Ballwin, 51 percent to 47 percent, could be counted on to identify with suburban voters.
McCaskill, who will leave office in January, also could become a motivating force for the party.
On Tuesday, as she conceded the race, McCaskill hinted that she would be sticking around after her 36 years in office comes to an end.
“It is good night, not goodbye,” McCaskill said before leaving the stage to a chant of “Claire” from her supporters.
Police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run Saturday night that left a woman dead in an industrial area north of downtown Anchorage.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was found dead in the road at the intersection of East 3rd Avenue and Orca Street, the Anchorage Police Department said in a statement. The area is outside the Anchorage jail.
Authorities responded to the area at about 5:30 p.m.
"The preliminary investigation has found that the adult female victim was a pedestrian when a vehicle struck the victim and fled the scene," the department said. "Both the suspect vehicle and suspect driver are unknown at this time."
Police closed the intersection to investigate the death, they said at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Police are looking for witnesses and surveillance footage of the area. They're asking people with information about incident to call non-emergency dispatch at 311, (option No. 1).
Frost covers the statue of a soldier at the Anchorage Veteran’s Memorial on the Park Strip in Anchorage, Alaska on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)
A century ago this weekend, the "war to end all wars" came to its official end in a rail car in Europe, at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Known as Armistice Day, the event became an official U.S. holiday to remember the contributions of those who had fought in the war, and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower expanded its scope to commemorate the service of all U.S. veterans, renaming it Veterans Day.
Since the days of the American Revolution, the U.S. has owed a great debt to its service members, one not quantifiable in any list of victories or policy accomplishments. An incredible 16.1 million U.S. veterans are alive today who have served in at least one war, from World War II to Afghanistan. Alaska has the highest number of veterans per capita of any U.S. state; one in 10 Alaskans is a veteran.
Alaska has always depended heavily upon the contributions of veterans — even before its military infrastructure was expanded during World War II, the first World War was a massive influence on the territory. When the U.S. signaled it would join the war effort in Europe, many of the young men who worked on small mining claims in Alaska went Outside to enlist. A total of 10,000 Alaskans enlisted, some of whom died in service to their country. Others perished in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and some never returned to Alaska upon completing their service. The combined effect of the war and the flu devastated the territory, decimating some towns and accelerating the move toward corporate mining.
The story of veterans in Alaska can't be told in numbers. It's better expressed in stories like that of Alaska-born Medal of Honor recipient Archie Van Winkle. A staff sergeant in the Korean War, Van Winkle and his unit came under attack by a larger North Korean force. He "boldly spearheaded a determined attack through withering fire," Van Winkle's citation reads, going on to say that "though he and all the others who charged with him were wounded, (he) succeeded in enabling his platoon to gain the fire superiority and the opportunity to reorganize." Wounded in the arm and chest from enemy fire and a hand grenade, "he staunchly refused evacuation and continued to shout orders and words of encouragement to his depleted and battered platoon."
Alaska has ties to other Medal of Honor recipients with similarly harrowing stories — Drew Dix, who earned his medal as a staff sergeant in Vietnam, finished his service at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks and retired in the Interior, where he still lives. And medical sergeant Ronald J. Shurer, born in Fairbanks, was awarded the Medal of Honor earlier this year for his heroism in a 2008 battle in which he saved the lives of four critically wounded U.S. soldiers and 10 injured Afghan commandos until teammates arrived.
Casualty counts have fallen in recent conflicts as the U.S. military shifts to tactics and technology that limits exposure of large masses of troops to enemy fire. But in some regards, war never changes. Our understanding of the effects of combat service on veterans is increasing, but we still suffer major deficits in our ability to treat not just physical wounds but also post-traumatic stress disorder and the psychological burden of war. We must continue to do better for those who have done their best for us.
A century after the "war to end all wars," it's clear that war has not and will not end, despite our continuing, essential pursuit of that goal. Whether their service is performed fighting the wars we cannot avoid or deterring the ones we can, America's veterans are owed a great debt by our nation, and one that we should remember on this day and all others.
The views expressed here are those of the Anchorage Daily News, as expressed by its editorial board, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. Current editorial board members are Ryan Binkley, Andy Pennington, Julia O'Malley, Tom Hewitt and Andrew Jensen. To submit a piece for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to email@example.com or click here to submit via any web browser.
Marko Cheseto after becoming a United State citizen in Florida recently. (Photo from Marko Cheseto)
Marko Cheseto sends his love. As a marathoner, and as an American.
Cheseto, the former University of Alaska Anchorage runner from Kenya who lost both of his feet to frostbite in 2011, enjoyed two milestone moments in the past week.
Racing on carbon-fiber running blades, Cheseto ran his first marathon last Sunday in New York City. He finished in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 33 seconds — about 10 minutes off the world-best for a double-leg amputee.
Two days later, he became an American citizen.
"This is an emotional moment for me," Cheseto said by email from Orlando, Florida, his home since early this summer. "I have been longing for this. During the ceremony, I was extremely excited. America has offered me great opportunities to excel."
As has Alaska.
Cheseto, 35, came to Anchorage in 2008 on a UAA athletic scholarship. He quickly established himself as one of the program's all-time bests, earning NCAA Division II All-America honors six times in track and cross country.
In November 2011 of his senior year, despondent over the suicide of another UAA runner from Kenya, Cheseto overdosed on prescription pills and disappeared into the woods around the UAA campus.
He was the subject of a massive, two-day search during which it snowed more than a foot and temperatures dipped to single digits. On the third day he stumbled into a hotel near campus, his sneakers frozen to his feet. Both feet had to be amputated.
Cheseto remained in Anchorage, graduated with a degree in nutrition, got married and had three children. Eighteen months after losing his feet, he resumed running once he was fitted with a pair of running blades.
Marko Cheseto competes in the Skinny Raven Half Marathon at the Anchorage RunFest in August. (Bill Roth / ADN)
Early this summer, the Cheseto family moved to Orlando so Cheseto could work and train at Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates. He came back briefly in August to run the Anchorage RunFest half marathon, placing 10th in 1:26:55 (he still owns the Mayor's half-marathon record, a 1:07:47 set in 2010).
In his 26.2-mile debut at the New York City Marathon last week, Cheseto placed 613th overall in a field of nearly 53,000. He is believed to be the second person with two prosthetic feet to break the 3-hour mark in the marathon. The other, Richard Whitehead of Great Britain, owns the world's top marathon time for a double amputee — he ran 2:42:52 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon.
"I was happy with my time," Cheseto said. "My biggest challenge was going over the bridges, and sharp inclines. (It) is not an easy course running with blades, the last 0.2 was the hardest, after crossing mile 26 mark, I was so ready to be done and I couldn't see the finish line."
He said one of his goals "is to run with elites in one of the major marathons." The time he's chasing? A sub-2:10.
Stan Patterson, the owner and head prosthetist at POA in Orlando, thinks that's an achievable goal.
"As you know, Marko is a natural runner," Patterson said by email. "The terrain of the NY Marathon course is hilly, which is more difficult for an amputee, and thus slows down the completion time. Our immediate plan for Marko is to enter him in marathons with flatter terrain and believe just that difference should get his time down to 2:38 or so — easily beating Whitehead's record.
"The ultimate goal is to break the overall world record and finish a marathon in less than 2 hours. We believe that Marko is the man to do it!"
The world record, set in September by Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge at the Berlin Marathon, is 2:01:39. Only nine people have run sub-2:04 marathons, according to Runners World.
Cheseto is hopeful that the marathon for lower-limb amputees will be added to the Paralympics, which currently offers a wheelchair marathon, but none for runners with prosthetics.
If the event is added while Cheseto is still competing, he'd get to race as part of Team USA, thanks to his recent change of citizenship.
Cheseto said he became a permanent U.S. resident in 2014. "I applied for citizenship while I was in Alaska, I in fact took my citizenship test in (the) Anchorage office back in May before moving to Florida," he said.
While Florida's weather is more conducive for year-round training, a big piece of Cheseto's heart is still up north.
"I love Alaska dearly," he said.
The UAA volleyball team will learn Sunday if 21 victories are enough to earn it a sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs. If not, at least the season will end on a winning note.
The Seawolves got big games from their three seniors and their star freshman Saturday in a four-set win over Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho.
The 25-21, 25-14, 25-27, 25-14 triumph in their regular-season finale leaves the Seawolves with a 21-7 overall record and a 14-6 Great Northwest Athletic Conference record.
They entered the week with a slim shot at the NCAA Division II playoffs — they're ranked 10th in the West Region, which will send eight teams to the postseason — but they suffered a Thursday night loss at sixth-ranked Central Washington.
"Twenty-one victories is an impressive accomplishment under any circumstances, so even if we are not fortunate enough to have our name called tomorrow, this team still has a lot to be proud of," UAA coach Chris Green said in a release from the school.
In what could be the final match of their careers, seniors Chrisalyn Johnson, Taylor Noga and Tara Melton shined.
Johnson, an outside hitter of Dimond High, registered the 39th double-double of her career and her 14th this season with 10 kills and 18 digs. Noga, an East High alum who returned to the front line after playing libero much of the season, racked up nine kills, 10 digs and four block assists. Melton, of Glendale, Arizona, tallied eight kills and a career-high 11 blocks, one of them solo.
Freshman Eve Stephens, meanwhile, provided impressive stats and a reminder that the future could be bright. The middle blocker from Colony High had 14 kills on flawless hitting — zero errors on 25 attack attempts for a hitting percentage of .560 – and was in on eight of UAA's 16 blocks.
Also sparking the Seawolves were junior Vanessa Boyer (10 kills), sophomore Anjoilyn Vreeland (team-high 26 digs), sophomore Casey Davenport (18 assists, 10 digs) and Ellen Floyd (28 assists, eight digs).
People pray outside a teen center in Thousand Oaks, California, which on Friday become a shelter for residents who fled the Woolsey Fire. Photo by Philip Cheung for The Washington Post (Philip Cheung/)
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - In a 24-hour span, Sgt. Eric Buschow worked two tragedies and slept no more than two hours.
A public information officer for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, Buschow responded late Wednesday to a shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill that killed 12 people. He worked the scene all day, as the FBI arrived and the victims' names became public, before finally going to bed at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Two hours later, he was awake again. The raging Woolsey Fire, which started that afternoon and rapidly grew, had crept too close to his family's home. They were forced to evacuate.
Thousand Oaks is grappling with dual tragedies that struck within hours of each other, taking on more trauma and grief than a place could or should bear. After the shooting at Borderline, a popular country-music bar, many residents said they stayed up late, waiting to hear news. They went to bed physically and emotionally exhausted Thursday, only to be waked in the middle of the night by the blare of emergency alerts from their phones and frantic knocks at the door from neighbors. They needed to get out, they were told.
"Any one of these incidents would be a significant problem at any time," Buschow said, "but to have them actually all converge at once is just unprecedented for us."
This city of nearly 130,000 people is large enough to feel big, but small enough where many people are familiar faces. Red Spanish roofs top homes and shopping centers in this family-friendly city, which has dozens of parks and playgrounds.
On Friday, the normally picturesque town was surrounded by smoke.
Buschow and his family had to sleep in a car parked in a community college parking lot. The fire threatened many of the evacuation shelters nearby, and hotels across Thousand Oaks were full of reporters and area residents seeking safety.
When the sun came up, his wife and children returned to their house - which survived the fire - and he went to work.
Hundreds of personnel from more than 30 law enforcement agencies across the state have converged in the Thousand Oaks area, first to help with the shooting, then with the fires.
The FBI was there to investigate the shooting in a scene described as one from hell. The agency's effort was complicated by fears that wildfire debris and smoke might contaminate evidence from the shooting. Patrons threw stools through windows to escape, leaving behind holes in the walls that the FBI boarded up, Buschow said.
There are concerns that the fire could burn toward the bar. Buschow said law enforcement was looking into ways to mitigate the risk, and there is a contingency plan to keep the scene and the agents who are working it safe.
After working all day Thursday, the FBI agents retired to their hotel in nearby Agoura Hills, only to be evacuated as the Woolsey Fire, one of several wildfires burning in Southern California, raged toward them. The agents fled, Buschow said. They had nowhere to go, so they also slept in their cars.
"But you know what? At 5 a.m., they were back at the Borderline doing their work," he said.
One of the fires jumped Highway 101, a main thoroughfare that connects communities throughout the valley, clogging transportation arteries and delaying for hours the first responders who had been sent in to relieve people like Buschow.
"It's absolutely been chaotic. Nonstop chaos," Buschow said.
He added, "We also have a funeral to plan for a fallen sergeant." Sgt. Ron Helus, a 30-year veteran of the sheriff's office, was among those killed at the bar.
About three miles from the Borderline, officials had to repurpose the Thousand Oaks teen center. On Thursday, it was where relatives and friends of people missing at Borderline were told whether their loved ones were among the 12 who were killed. People cried and hugged and prayed. A man told the world through sobs that his beloved son was dead and that his last words to his child were, "Son, I love you." Members of the clergy streamed in the front doors, and a small therapy horse shuffled between the bar and center.
About 12 hours later, the complex reopened its doors, this time to house residents fleeing the wildfire. A gymnasium was filled with green cots. A woman on oxygen lay on one of the cots, a dog by her side. People wore green masks to protect themselves from the smoke. Others helped themselves to water and food: muffins, granola bars, fruit, croissants and blueberry scones.
At the senior center next door, a group of mostly elderly residents sat at long tables and watched television. A small fire broke out on a hill near the center Friday morning but was quickly doused by firefighters.
Patricia Reynolds, 57, sat on metal bleachers in the teen center's gym with her daughter Lyndsay Witkoski, 25, and her neighbor Mary Ann Best, 90.
"It's been a roller coaster for me emotionally," she said through tears. "My heart aches for everyone."
She had stayed up until 4 a.m. Thursday watching news of the Borderline shooting. At night, her phone buzzed: She needed to evacuate her condo complex. Her husband and son were at work and her daughter was at college in Northridge, a Los Angeles neighborhood that is about 35 miles northeast.
"I didn't know what to do," Witkoski said through sobs. She was already hurting from the shooting and felt lost. "I decided to come home regardless because I didn't know what to do."
Seventeen-year-old Karissa Herbert knew what she needed to do. She and her friends came to the center carrying packages with toothbrushes, deodorant and snacks for the evacuees.
The seniors at Rancho Campana High School in Camarillo, just west of Thousand Oaks, knew people who survived the Borderline bar shooting. The Borderline is one of the few places in the area where people under 21 can go out at night.
Herbert said she had been sending hourly text messages on Thursday to a friend who escaped the shooting. On Friday, she felt the urge to help the wildfire evacuees.
"What are the odds of that happening, a fire right after the shooting?" Herbert said. "The first responders had to deal with the loss of those innocent teenagers and then they have to deal with the fire. It's like, how much can we take?"
Across town, Beatriz Bera sat exhausted in a hotel lobby at 4 a.m. Friday. She and her family were waked by alerts on their phone two hours earlier telling them to evacuate, which were followed by their property manager banging on the door. Bera's family came to a hotel where her mother is a housekeeper.
"It is too much. First with the Borderline shooting, now the fire," Bera, 21, said.
As the assistant dean of students at California Lutheran University put it: "The whole city of Thousand Oaks is tired."
Outside the university's campus, Brandon Apelian waved a black and white flag with an orange stripe - a banner to honor those battling the blazes - when a classmate walked up to him.
"I just wanted to tell you thanks for being out here. You made my day," said Ramon Olivier, 22, a senior and music production major at the school. "My buddy Meek died."
Olivier had been forced to evacuate while still mourning the loss of his classmate Justin Meek, who died in the Borderline bar shooting. The school's president described Meek as "one of the greatest students we've ever had."
Meek and Olivier played water polo at school. Meek was killed trying to save others at the nightclub, the university said in a statement.
"It hurts me to see everyone else hurt," Olivier said. "This community is so close knit."
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The Washington Post’s Annie Gowen and Tony Biasotti contributed to this report.