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Sen. Ted Stevens remains in the hearts and minds of Alaskans and always will.
The Alaska National Guard has a tradition of recording its heritage in paintings. The latest in the heritage series is being unveiled today at the National Guard Armory in Anchorage.
Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will present the painting, "Midnight Sun Guardians: 'So That Others May Live," by Mark Churns to the National Guard.
The painting, the 84th commissioned since the series started in 1961, depicts the Alaska Air National Guard's rescue efforts in the plane crash that killed U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in 2010. In addition to Stevens, four others died in the crash. Four other passengers survived.
"An Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, its crew, and two pararescuemen arrived at the scene in severely inclement weather to provide medical care to survivors and transport the two most critically wounded to Dillingham," the Guard writes about the rescue. "A U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 Jay Hawk transported two additional survivors to Dillingham, and all four were transported to Anchorage in a Coast Guard C-130. Additional Air Guard aircraft and personnel assisted in recovery efforts."
Sen. Stevens, who served in the Senate for 40 years and served Alaska much longer than that, had been a pilot in the military, and, as a senator and Alaskan, advocated for the state and its military.
For the National Guard to choose the Stevens rescue would please him. Although he died, he would want to honor the rescuers who came to the crash scene.
What a wonderful tradition the National Guard has for recording its heritage.