An Alaska National Guard Soldier, participating in a land-navigation exercise, was mauled by a bear Sunday morning at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Alaska.
The Soldier, identified by authorities at JCER as Sgt. Lucas Wendeborn of Valdez, is said to be in stable condition at the on-post hospital.
The training exercise is similar to Special Forces training where Soldiers are given maps and compasses and are timed as they work solo to find hidden locations. Apparently, Sgt. Wendeborn got between a female brown bear and her small cubs late Sunday morning.
"He dropped to the ground, covered his head and remained still."
Even those actions didn’t keep mama bear from biting and batting the Soldier and lifting him off the ground by his hip.
Following guidelines of the exercise, the Soldier blew a safety whistle to alert medics that he needed assistance. Interestingly, for an outdoor navigational exercise where Soldiers work solo in the wilds of Alaska, the injured Soldier was not armed. He was however, wearing protective gear and a helmet, both of which probably saved his life.
Sunday's attack was the second mauling at the base in about two months. Jessica Gamboa, wife of a JBER Soldier, was badly injured May 18, as she jogged on a trail and similarly encountered a female bear and her babies.
Gamboa sustained cuts to her arms, legs, and neck, as well as a torn ear. She is still recovering from those injuries.
Investigators will try to determine if the same female bear is responsible for both attacks.
Soldiers who read this article will appreciate the fact that Sgt. Wendeborn was wearing a protective vest at the time of the attack. His injuries are not life-threatening.
Wendeborn is currently assigned to the 1st Battalion, 297th Brigade Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron (Cavalry), an Army National Guard detachment in Valdez.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was created when the United States Air Force's Elmendorf Air Force Base and the United States Army's Fort Richardson merged in 2010 in another round of base-realignment.