Harrisburg recruiters instill ‘AIRBORNE!’ to Civil Air Patrol cadets
July 7, 2011
MIDDLETOWN, PA -- Some of the Air Force aviation-minded cadets were a bit confused on why they were getting parachute training. For them, it was a bit like, “Why would we want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”
The training was an airborne class taught June 29 by Army Recruiters Staff Sgt. Joseph Tremblay and Staff Sgt. Daniel Gordon for 15 cadets from the Civil Air Patrol Harrisburg International Composite Squadron 306. It was held where the cadets normally conduct their weekly training on the 193rd Special Operations Wing Pennsylvania Air National Guard Base in Middletown, Pa.
“It was by far one of the best things I have done in CAP so far,” said Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Dempsey, 17, who has been involved with the all-volunteer organization for about five years.
Serving as a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP performs three congressionally assigned key missions: aerospace education; cadet programs for young people ages 12 to 21; and, emergency services.
Both recruiters are Airborne Soldiers currently assigned to the Harrisburg Opportunity Center. Before his assignment to recruiting duty, Tremblay was an instructor at the three-week Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, Ga.
“I think the training was outstanding, particularly all the hands-on experience the cadets got with the equipment,” said Senior Member Jim Lichlyter, the CAP Squadron 306 aerospace assistant education officer. “It was very good tactical-type training because they were being told exactly what to do as they were doing it.”
As he had done with Future Soldiers in April, Tremblay combined and condensed the school’s first week - known as Ground Week - into a two-hour, hands-on training session. The cadets had to use their imagination instead of having a mock door of a C-130 or C-17 aircraft, which is used at the airborne school.
“You are going to be learning how to wear the equipment and land without injuring yourself,” Tremblay explained to the cadets at the beginning of instruction.
Dempsey, who will be a senior next year at Elizabethtown Area High School, has been dead-set for the past year on joining the Air Force as a pararescueman. Finding this out at the beginning of the training, Tremblay selected Dempsey as the only cadet to don the full parachute gear as an example for the class.
This airborne training "opened my eyes to what it would be like to be a pararescueman and what the gear would feel like,” said Dempsey, who admitted that before this training he knew that the Army had an airborne program, but he thought it was only for those in Special Forces.
During the training, Dempsey and his fellow cadets learned that the Army Airborne School is open to troops of both genders from all branches of the Department of Defense, as well as allied military personnel.
Working together in teams of two, each cadet was able to don a parachute harness. As Tremblay gave instructions on how to put the harnesses on, Gordon double-checked to ensure cadets were properly wearing their gear.
They would keep these harnesses on throughout the basic airborne class that touched on the five points of performance: Proper Exit, Check body Position, and Count; Check Canopy and Gain Canopy Control; Keep a Sharp Lookout during Your Entire Descent; Prepare to Land; and, Land.
“I was blown away by the training, and it was great participation by the Civil Air Patrol cadets,” said Capt. Ryan Greenawalt, the commander of the Harrisburg Recruiting Company who oversees the Army recruiting missions of the Harrisburg, Lancaster and Reading Opportunity Centers. “I understand that most of their training is Air Force aviation focused, but like Sergeant Tremblay said, this training gives the cadets a little bit of exposure to the Army and that we do have Airborne and all kinds of different options.”
Greenawalt, who is a Black Hawk pilot, has already signed on to provide training to the cadets. The Harrisburg Company garnered three centers of influence from this training.
This training also gave Dempsey a wider outlook for his future. Immediately after the training, he said that he is going to take a longer look at the requirements and qualifications for Combat Medic (MOS 68W), as well as the Army’s airborne program, before making a final decision.