The end of an era: Strykers leave Fort Wainwright

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:00 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As the season transitions to cooler temperatures, a new chapter is being written for Fort Wainwright as Stryker vehicles are loaded up on railcars heading south to their new locations.

This is the final shipment of Stryker vehicles off of the installation since they began the operation in July.

“So today we are loading the last of the Stryker’s out. There are approximately 86 vehicles that will be leaving, and this will be it, these are the end of the line,” said Deployment Specialist Joe Valdrow with the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade.

Getting the Strykers out before the snowfall was a priority. Where they are headed, the vehicles won’t have to worry about the snow. The final stop will be at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama. Twenty of the Stryker vehicles will be going to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Peirce County, Washington for a re-fit, and the remaining will be sent to Anniston.

Soldier signals Stryker to move onto railcar
Soldier signals Stryker to move onto railcar(Julie Swisher)

When it came to morale, Valdorw stated, “The soldiers are pretty excited about the Stryker’s leaving today. They are looking at, excited about the new equipment they will be getting and they are excited to get these out of here and go from there.”

New equipment such as CATV’s , or cold weather all-terrain vehicles are better suited for cold weather environments like the Interior and the Arctic.

Chief Warrant Officer 2, Eric Peterson, with the 11th Airborne Brigade said the Strykers leaving is the bookend of this phase of the transition. He added what this means for the army is switching priorities and focusing on more of an arctic-centric unit, to be lethal, and do things here in the arctic that no one else can do in the world. Peterson says transitioning away from Stryker’s into other platforms will allow the army to do just that.

“After tomorrow when we do some crane operations there will be no more on Fort Wainwright. We still have some other components of the Stryker’s we are going to be getting rid of for a while, but this is the most noticeable, so Fort Wainwright will not look the same after tomorrow when the Stryker’s are gone,” said Peterson.

Strykers lined up to leave Fort Wainwright
Strykers lined up to leave Fort Wainwright(Julie Swisher)

Peterson explained there are many Stryker Brigades in the army. “There is only one division that is arctic focused, and we are the northernmost part of that division,” he said, adding the 11th Airborne will focus on new tasks and things the army hasn’t focused on before. “And we get to focus on it, and write a new chapter,” he said contently.

Peterson also said that Stryker Brigades have their own culture within the army. “For example, one of the civilians that works with PM Stryker, he was here when we stood up Strykers in the early 2000′s,” he said. “And now he is here closing it out. So everyone in the Stryker community knows each other, and this is [Fort Wainwright] was always that one really unique Stryker unit that was up north and in the cold, and doing things that Strykers didn’t normally have the opportunity to do.”

For the soldiers that work with the Strykers, Peterson said there are not many who solely work with the vehicles. Those that do so may have an option to stay and do other mechanic work or they will move to another unit.

This marks an end of an era for Fort Wainwright’s Stryker Brigade, but also a new chapter, with new opportunities for the future ahead.

Stryker marked "Last One" to signify the last load of Strykers leaving the installation
Stryker marked "Last One" to signify the last load of Strykers leaving the installation(Julie Swisher)