In early February 2018, Eagle River’s Kirk Alkire traveled to Washington D.C. to seek approval by the Domestic Names Committee (DNC) of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names on the naming of “Gold Star Peak” in the Chugach Mountains.
His hard work paid off on February 8th when his proposal received a unanimous vote. Gold Star Peak is no longer just Alkire’s passion. It’s a place.
The mountain naming project was undertaken to honor families of fallen servicemen and women.
This past December, Alkire received official approval by the Board of Alaska Geographic Names, Alaska Historical Commission; part of the Department of Natural Resources.
“We had tremendous support for naming the peak,” he says. “Signatures on a petition I circulated came from all 50 states, four countries, and one U.S. territory. We had solid backing by many Alaska individuals and organizations, including the military.”
The 4,142-foot peak lies south of the Knik River; west of Twin Peaks and is part of a mountain complex named POW/MIA that honors Soldiers who were either prisoners of war or missing in action (in past and future conflicts).
“Alaska has at least 300 Gold Star families registered—from Vietnam to present—and I am sure there are more,” Alkire says.
Alkire recently climbed Gold Star Peak to fly a flag donated by a national organization, Honor and Remember.
The flag contains signatures from Gold Star families from across the U.S. Alkire says he will now collect signatures from the Alaska Gold Star families before taking the flag to Washington D.C. and showing it to Alaska’s Congressional delegation.
“My plan is to fly the flag once more from the summit once the peak is approved,” Alkire says. “I’ll then have it displayed for the public at a place we’re still working on.”
Alkire adds: “We have already begun designing the memorial plaques for the summit and the MATSU Veterans Memorial Park. They will be unveiled at a later date and time– still to be determined.”
A retired U.S. Army 1st Sergeant, Alkire has been working on the mountain-naming project for about two years.
Alkire served in the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) 25th Infantry Division from Fort Richardson, which lost 53 paratroopers during its 15-month deployment to Iraq during the 2007 “Surge.” Four of those 53 heroes were assigned to the unit in which Alkire was First Sergeant.
Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer and ECHO News team member who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebekah, a retired Birchwood ABC school teacher. To reach Frank, email: firstname.lastname@example.org