From Colorado Springs Cadet Squadron Civil Air Patrol
Peterson Air Force Base
CHEYENNE WELLS, Colo. — Colorado Wing Civil Air Patrol responded to a notification that a 66-year old Kansas resident was missing while trying to drive to a local store Feb. 9. The man suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and became disoriented, driving into Eastern Colorado where he was stranded. Teams from across Colorado mounted a search Feb. 10 culminating in his rescue Feb. 11 by a Civil Air Patrol team from Peterson AFB, after he spent two days in freezing conditions.
“It is a credit to CAP for being able to narrow down the search area to a six-mile diameter based off of two calls for help,” said Lt. Col. Bill McNeely, Colorado Springs Cadet Squadron commander and ground team lead. “CAP actually told law enforcement in what area of the state he was located.”
The ground team from CSCS were the first to make contact at about 12:30 p.m., finding the man coherent but cold and hungry having had no food or water for two days. The man was in stable condition and taken to an area hospital.
The CSCS ground team, led by McNeely, included three cadets: Cadets Kyle Fields, Carlin Idle and Samuel Tschappler, all residents of Colorado Springs and members of the CSCS. Though veteran ground team members, this was their first mission where their subject was located alive.
“I was just concerned about him and his condition and I just wanted to find out his status,” Idle said.
The man survived two nights of single-digit temperatures by remaining in his vehicle until help arrived.
CAP provides search and rescue services nation-wide using its own aircraft in conjunction with trained ground teams. Teams from Fort Collins, Parker and Colorado Springs responded to the call from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center after the stranded man called 911 and was unable to identify his location. Relieving the local police and firefighters on the evening of Feb. 10, CAP teams conducted a systematic ground search based off of cellular connection data provided by CAP forensics personnel from 9 p.m. until 12:25 p.m. Feb. 11, when the stranded man was spotted by CAP aircraft.
CAP is the official U.S. Air Force auxiliary and is open to all U.S. citizens age 12 and older. CSCS focuses on training cadet members (21 and under) and activities including ground search and rescue, and air navigation. The CSCS has 60 members and is the second largest squadron in the Colorado CAP.