Boy Scout builds pavilion over Yukla 27 crash site

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Samuel Colvin
  • 673d ABW/PA

Thanks to a local Boy Scout, a pavilion now shelters the memory box and cross at the Yukla 27 crash site on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

The area was once a large scar of burned land, left when a U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, call sign “Yukla 27,” struck a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff and crashed 3,500 yards northeast of Elmendorf Airfield on the tragic morning of Sept. 22, 1995, killing everyone on board. The crash site is now a secluded, solemn clearing in the regrown birch forest marked by a cross, memory box, and the newly constructed pavilion.

“The main reason for the pavilion is to protect the contents of the memory box from further damage from snow and rain, otherwise the parts of the plane inside it that are more fragile will deteriorate,” said Daryn Moore, a member of Scouts BSA Troop 54 in Palmer.

When the memory box was initially placed, the lid was secured and watertight. The lid was later unfastened to allow members of the AWACS community, including families and friends of the 24 lost crew members, to add personal mementos, remnants from the aircraft, challenge coins and other memorabilia on top of a sealed time capsule nestled inside the box.

“I got the idea for the project in September last year,” Moore said. “It was something that was needed by the Yukla 27 group. I stepped up and said, ‘Hey, I can do that.’”

After proposing the project to an official from his troop’s district and coordinating with the head of the Yukla 27 Friends and Family group, Moore said he received approval to begin. He raised $3,000 in funds to purchase materials, measured and cut wood beams with help from his father and troop members, then delivered the materials to the crash site.

Daryn built the pavilion at the site with his father, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clayton Moore, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron communications systems operator, other Scouts and Canadian and U.S. Airmen with the 962nd AACS Aug. 8, 2020. The finished structure is 10 feet by 16 feet and stands 11 feet high, sheltering the cross and memory box from the Alaska weather.

The pavilion is Daryn’s Eagle Scout Service Project, a project that benefits the community as a requirement to gain the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting.

“I also have to do my Eagle Board of Review,” Daryn said. “If my project isn’t good enough or isn’t done correctly, they’ll turn me down and say, ‘No, you’re not getting your Eagle.’ But I plan on doing everything correctly.”

Daryn joined Scouts BSA in 2011 and has helped with community-service projects including building a wheelchair ramp at a veteran’s home, assembling a workout area and playground for the public, and constructing a woodshed for a church camp, Clayton said, who is also the assistant scoutmaster of Daryn’s troop.

“Helping Daryn through this project has helped me bring him closer to the AWACS community that I’ve been a part of for the past 15 years, and the Air Force as a whole,” Clayton said. “AWACS is a small community but a big community at the same time. There are only three U.S. bases for AWACS so we’re a small community in that sense, but there are a lot of us and a lot of alumni.”

Daryn noted that this year is especially important for the AWACS community, marking 25 years since the Canadian and U.S. Airmen on board Yukla 27 perished in the crash.

“We’re really thankful Daryn did this,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Huberty, 962nd AACS computer display maintenance technician and Yukla 27 memorial coordinator. “The pavilion is definitely going to have a lasting impact and preserve the time capsule, the cross and other memorabilia.”

This year’s Yukla 27 memorial service and the pavilion dedication ceremony are planned for Sept. 22, 2020. In past years, families of those lost in the crash were invited to attend. This year, the service and ceremony might not be open to the public to mitigate the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. For more information on the Yukla 27 memorial service and pavilion dedication ceremony, please call 552-0198.