Thirteen officers from Civil Air Patrol’s Marco Island Senior Squadron recently spent 10 days in support of Florida Army National Guard (ANG) air defense during the ANG summer encampment at Camp Blanding in Starke, Fla.
Marco Island personnel traveled to Ormond Beach Airport, where they joined 40-plus other senior and cadet members from CAP’s Florida Wing in support of air operations. Six CAP aircraft from across the state were deployed to Ormond Beach and performed multiple roles in support of Army training over the two-week encampment.
As the training events involved active duty military personnel, the content of the training may not be discussed; however, this is a recurring mission of importance and requires the professional talents and capabilities of Civil Air Patrol.
CAP aircrews manned their aircraft in two-person (pilot and co-pilot) teams The CAP pilots were all instrument qualified and rated; therefore able to cope with any severe weather conditions that required precision air work.
Communications were vital to the successful execution of the missions. Two radio operations trailers, one at Camp Blanding and one at the Ormond Beach Airport, provided military briefings, command and control.
During the exercises CAP cadets were involved in marshalling and parking CAP aircraft. Cadet crew chiefs moved aircraft into designated position, helped prepared the aircraft for flight, assisted the pilots in their preflight inspections and directed aircraft on the ground. Overall they learned the basics of becoming competent ground support crew members. Senior CAP aircrew members worked side-by-side with them on the airfield.
CAP Capt. Richard Farmer, the Marco Island Squadron’s operations officer and a retired airline pilot, said, “Our aircrews are impressed with the vitality of the CAP cadets in performing so many of the ground support activities which make our job better focused on the flight operations.”
It is vital to have both senior aircrews and cadets to train for these missions in order to be ready to function effectively when it is no longer a practice event.
When the question was asked “Why would a teen get up at 4 a.m. to be on the CAP flight line at 5 to assist with flight operations?” The answer was, “Our motivation is the same as the senior members who were there to give back to their community and in a small way make a difference in the safety of the nation.”
These cadets and their adult advisers were commended by Maj. Gen. Newton, commanding general of the overall exercise, who said, “We simply could not have completed our mission without the help of the Civil Air Patrol.”
The Marco Island Squadron is comprised of uniformed civilian volunteer men and women who have donated their time and energy to support CAP goals and assigned missions. Since 1981 Marco Island has enjoyed the benefits of the all-volunteer efforts of the Marco Island squadron. As the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP’s mission includes inland search & rescue, homeland security, disaster relief, aerospace education and drug demand reduction.
From modest beginnings the squadron membership has grown to almost 70 dedicated men and women who donate their time, energy and financial support to the community.