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Civil Air Patrol cadets
At the Civil Air Patrol's Air Force Civil Engineering Academy at Tyndall, Cadet 1st Lt. Noah Johnson of New Hampshire's Lebanon Composite Squadron looks through a transit that would be used to survey a job site by Air Force engineering assistants. (Courtesy photo)
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Civil Air Patrol cadets attend Air Force Civil Engineering Academy

Posted 8/6/2010   Updated 8/6/2010 Email story   Print story


by Maj. Steven Solomon
Civil Air Patrol, Southeast Region

8/6/2010 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Thirty-seven cadets from across the country learned about civil engineering careers at the Air Force Civil Engineering Academy held July 25-30 at the Silver Flag Training site at Tyndall.

Cadets learned about heavy equipment, robotics, construction, fire and rescue, and demolitions from members of Detachment 1 - 823rd RED HORSE Squadron. Highlights for the cadets included trying to avoid falling into the water when going through the obstacle course and a field training exercise in a convoy driving through a mock-up of Middle Eastern villages on a mission to recover documents and gather information.

Daily classroom instruction about the math, science and technology involved in engineering was presented by the activity director, Col. John Knowles, who is a vice president for Clark Construction Group, sponsor of the activity.

"It's an exciting program that offers a select group of cadets a taste of what it would be like serving in a civil engineering role in the Air Force," said Knowles, who also serves as commander of CAP's Maryland wing.

Assisting Knowles with instruction was Air Force 2nd Lt. Joanna Weiss, a civil engineering officer stationed with the 460th Civil Engineering Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. She is a CAP captain and former cadet colonel who received a civil engineering degree from Penn State University.

At Tyndall, cadets toured the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, which serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal search and rescue activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico and Canada.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, it's Civil Air Patrol that's going to help us," said Capt. Ken Moerscher, the search and rescue duty officer who talked to cadets inside the AFRCC. "CAP performs a huge function in search and rescue," he added, noting that he was a CAP member for 14 years, five as a cadet in Florida and the remainder as a senior member in the Wyoming wing.

The cadets were told that CAP had performed 300 sorties in the last few days, and that on the day of the visit CAP was conducting 10 Gulf oil missions, three training missions for the Air Force out of Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and 10 counter-drug sorties for other federal agencies. Cadets were also given a rare look inside the Deepwater Horizon situation room at Tyndall.

In addition, cadets toured a static display of aircraft, on loan from the Air Force Museum, that have been flown at Tyndall, including the F-4, F-86, F-106 and F-15. Col. Larry Trick, an aerospace engineer at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland and a former Maryland wing commander, gave a presentation about each exhibit.

Cadets also were given a flight line drive-by to see the F-22 Raptors, F-15 Eagles and F-4 Phantoms led by Lieutenant Col. Tom Pelczynski, USAFR, CAP-USAF liaison.

"I'm planning on a career in the Air Force and civil engineering is one of the most important fields in the military," said Cadet 1st Lt. Sara Fishbein, 16, cadet commander of the Wright-Patterson Cadet Squadron in Dayton, Ohio. "All the hands-on work was great."

"I came to this activity to better understand the different jobs in the Air Force and get a concept of civil engineering," added Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Derasse, 16, flight sergeant for the Teaneck Composite Squadron in the New Jersey wing. "My favorite thing about the activity was working with active duty Air Force personnel. They encouraged me even more to pursue my military dream."

The academy is one of 30 National Cadet Special Activities sponsored by CAP this summer. These activities allow cadets to hone their skills in a variety of areas, including search and rescue, flight and emergency services, leadership fundamentals, citizenship and military courtesies and to explore aerospace technology and aviation careers. In 2009, 1,100 youth participated in CAP-sponsored summer activities.

"Through our cadet program CAP builds strong citizens for the future," said Col. David Carter, assistant activity director, commander of CAP's Virginia wing, and a retired Air Force master sergeant who served as training manager for the 203rd RED HORSE Flight from 1989 to 2001.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited with saving more than 100 lives in 2010. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 24,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 68 years. For more information about CAP, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com.

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