By Air Force Lt. Col. David MillerJune 30, 2016
Fort Leonard Wood was the site of unusual flying activity Saturday as the Missouri Wing of the Civil Air Patrol flew red, white and blue single-engine airplanes out of Forney Field as part of a training exercise for its all-volunteer members.
While wing training is ongoing, and occurs several times a year throughout the state, last weekend's event was an "Operations Evaluation" by the Air Force as part of a two-year inspection cycle.
"As a component of the Air Force, our capabilities are evaluated on a regular basis to make sure we remain qualified to perform the tasks assigned to us," said Civil Air Patrol Col. John O'Neill, Missouri Wing commander. "Due to our ongoing training, the wing has consistently performed very well during these evaluations and I am confident we will do well again this year."
More than 50 wing members -- mission base staff, aircrew and ground teams -- from across the state converged on Forney Field. Nine single-engine Cessna airplanes and multiple large-capacity vans also arrived ready for the day's events and were the first to be inspected.
The Air Force evaluators then presented several scenarios throughout the day which included aerial-photo reconnaissance of rivers, lakes, bridges and critical infrastructure; simulated tornado damage assessment; a simulated missing persons mission; and a simulated overdue aircraft mission.
"This has been a challenging evaluation considering the breadth of different missions we're being tasked with," said Civil Air Patrol Maj. Austin Worcester, Missouri Wing director of emergency services and mission incident commander. "But this is what we train for and we're accomplishing all of our missions with our outstanding group of citizen volunteers."
Inter-agency training was also stressed with a local meteorologist from the National Weather Service providing real-time on-site weather updates, mission staff support from the Missouri Disaster Response System and communications support from the Missouri National Guard.
So how did the wing do in their evaluation? They received a "Highly Successful" rating verifying the Missouri Wing's competency and capability to perform those missions Civil Air Patrol members across the country are called upon in support of their communities and nation. Hot and tired, these volunteers from across the state ended the day and closed the overall mission knowing they remain a vital component of the U.S. Air Force and are deemed ready to answer the call.
Those interested in learning more about CAP can attend a weekly meeting of the squadron located on post -- the Fort Leonard Wood Composite Squadron -- which meets 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Building 1288 at the corner of Iowa Avenue and Artillery Circle.
Visit their website at www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fort-Leonard-Wood-Composite-Squadron-CAP/305014179543046.
For more information about Civil Air Patrol, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com, www.capvolunteernow.com, or the Missouri Wing website at www.mowgcap.us.
(Editor's note: Miller is the Missouri Civil Air Patrol Wing director of public affairs.)