By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 23, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 23, 2012) -- Cadets of nearly every age from the Dothan and Montgomery Civil Air Patrol squadrons met Aug. 17 at Fort Rucker Range Area 16 to participate in a land navigation course with Soldiers from Fort Rucker to learn how to properly traverse the landscape.
The cadets learned the skills to prepare themselves to complete search and rescue missions. Civil Air Patrol is the Air Forces' auxiliary organization for community service and other functions.
"CAP teaches participants leadership and emergency services skills like search and rescue as well as teaching cadets how to fly," said CAP Lt. Col. Jim McGlone, deputy commander for cadets at the Dothan composite squadron.
Two Soldiers from Fort Rucker volunteered to help train the cadets Aug. 17 to give the youth a better understanding of land navigation.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown, B Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, provided the military lensatic compasses. Brown, who works in an office, found out that CAP needed a combat life saver out in the field, and jumped at the opportunity to better himself and his community.
"I don't get to get out and do a lot of field exercises, so I wanted to participate to stay in touch with my roots of soldiering. I can share my experience and advice with younger people. I like to help and that's what I like about the Army," he said.
During the course Brown would be the first care injured cadets would receive before a medical team would arrive if a cadet was injured. Fortunately, though, the cadets remained hydrated so Brown wasn't called into action, he said.
"I gave a small brief about drinking water and told them to take breaks out there if they needed to. The main concern was dehydration, but we touched on other issues such as snakes and insect bites," he said.
This was the first time Brown volunteered for CAP, but said he would volunteer again if they asked him.
"I would like to help with any outdoor training. Anything I can do to help, I will," he added.
Fort Rucker provided the field for the CAP training mission with its pre-set program and Soldiers were a welcome sight to the cadets.
"They were able to come up to us when we were having difficulties and say, 'This is the right way, not this,' which helped me because this isn't our environment. They were able to tell us what is special about this range with land search and rescue," said Stanley Holling, a senior CAP member.
Staff Sgt. Vernon McNabb, a Blackhawk crew chief with B Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, is a familiar face with the CAP cadets and also volunteered for the course.
"I go every Monday to the CAP meetings. When I am there I help them with their drilling ceremonies, and with the classroom instruction when it comes to aerial navigation and first aid. Though I am a rotor wing guy and CAP deals with fixed wing, a lot of information transfers over," he said.
"I am used to going out in the woods as a hunter, and as a Soldier for 16 years I have a lot of experience that isn't the typical textbook advice to guide them. I don't do it for them, but I am here when they need me," he added.
With obstacles like dense brush, creeks and six foot drops, the cadets were exhausted, but some were gifted with a rare sight.
"We crossed a lot of streams, so we were looking for snakes, but not only were we fortunate enough to not see any snakes, but we walked up on a spotted baby deer tucked behind a log in some grass. We could hear momma deer off not too far, so we let her be," said McNabb.
McNabb invites other Soldiers to volunteer when they can.
"I think other Soldiers would enjoy helping, if they are brave enough to enjoy the heat and the spiders. This is Soldier-related stuff that we do with CAP, so the more experienced Soldiers that can come out here for these guys would benefit everyone. The kids would get time with a real Soldier and have one-on-one interaction, and the Soldier can get his or her feet wet in teaching those who might be a Soldier one day," he said.
McNabb believes that the Soldiers could impact the lives of cadets and inspire them to become leaders in their communities as well as give the Soldiers a new look at soldiering.
"[Soldiers] will make a real difference in impacting their lives. Plus, it can give Soldiers a free refresher course in some of the things they may be rusty on and give them the opportunity to get in volunteer time. Just the sense of getting out of their normal day-to-day routine is also beneficial. A change of scenery does everyone good," he said.
Cadets thanked the Soldiers for coming out and teaching them new skills.
"The Soldiers helped me navigate through thicker areas more efficiently and to work smarter not harder," said Cadet Staff Sgt. Aaron Butters.
"We learned a lot from the Soldiers that we don't often get to do. They really helped us with situational awareness and they definitely helped us with the map reading because CAP is more aerial, so our land navigation skills aren't as developed as a Soldiers. I just want to say 'thank you', to them," said Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Richard Irsik.
Any southeastern Alabama youth interested in joining CAP can find information at www.godothancap.com.
The squadrons plan to return to Fort Rucker in October to complete another land navigation course. Soldiers interested in helping with the course can call 255-2747.