Salute to Gold Star families: Alaska mountain peak naming proposal heads to D.C.

Published: Dec. 7, 2017 at 12:20 PM AKST
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A retired Alaska serviceman is now just steps away from a mountainous goal. On Wednesday, the Alaska Historical Commission officially approved Gold Star Peak as the new name for an otherwise unnamed 4,148-foot peak in the Chugach Mountains.

"We're really excited," said retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Kirk Alkire, who initialized the proposal to name the peak. "[This] was huge, and the support has been overwhelming from all over."

Alkire said signatures on a petition he submitted less than a month ago come from all 50 states, four countries, and one U.S. territory.

The support, though, is not surprising: Gold Star Peak, the proposed name for the ridge extending southwest from what is now Mount POW/MIA, is a salute to the families of those who died during or as a result of military service, also known as Gold Star families.

"It's really emotional from my own personal sacrifices I've been through with my deployment, the people I've lost and the families I've met," Alkire said. "I'm connected with each of those families that are now Gold Star families. It's really a huge feeling of success, for them, because currently they don't have a place to go to remember."

The name would become the official reference for a peak that lies a little more than one-and-a-half miles north of upper Eklutna Lake Rd. and just east of Eklutna. The area does have a Dena'ina name, but no name that's on state or federal record.

While the Bureau of Land Management currently manages the land, the State of Alaska has selected it, and now that the proposed new name been cleared at the state level and has the Alaska Historical Commission's seal of approval, the proposal itself will go to a vote in Washington, D.C.

"It really just makes me swell with pride," Alkire said.

Hopeful that the proposed name will be made official during the next scheduled U.S. Board of Geographic Names in February, Alkire said he also wants a memorial plaque placed along the Glenn Hwy. in a spot where both peaks can be seen.