by Ian Carman
Colorado Wing Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol
On June 22, the 21st Operations Group had a change of command ceremony at Hangar 119, the location of Colorado Wing Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol.
The change of command was well attended, but what was not known to them is that the Civil Air Patrol also had an active mission going on at the same time.
At about 11:10 p.m. June 21, Colorado Wing Civil Air Patrol received a request from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center to assist with a search for a missing person in Ouray County.
On the afternoon of June 21, a 23-year-old man and his father were climbing Courthouse Mountain in the Uncompahgre Wilderness. On the way down, they separated and the 23 year old became lost. He called 911 on his cell phone and reported himself lost. Sheriff’s ground teams were sent to the area but were unable to quickly locate him, resulting in a request for air resources.
An airplane from the Montrose Squadron of the Colorado Wing of Civil Air Patrol was dispatched to assist. The sheriff had also contracted with a local helicopter to assist. About 8 a.m. the next morning, the subject was located by air and the helicopter was able to land and pick him up.
The victim was cold, hungry and slightly dehydrated, but otherwise OK. He was able to get a fire started during the night to help stay warm.
The Colorado Wing of the CAP is headquartered at Peterson, with more than 30 subordinate units and nearly 1,800 volunteers across the state.
“Last year, the CAP logged more than 2,900 flying hours in more than 100 missions in Colorado for the U.S. Air Force, as well as missions for the Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Colorado National Guard, local sheriffs and many other agencies,” said Col. Ed Phelka, Colorado Wing commander. “The Colorado Wing has one of the busiest operations tempo for the CAP for the lower 48 states, with one of the highest life save rates for the organization.”
In addition to the fast-paced operations tempo in the Colorado Wing, the CAP also has a very robust cadet program, with more than 800 cadets participating in a variety of activities to help them in the finest Air Force traditions. As a result, about 10 percent of the U.S. Air Force cadet wing is made up of current and former CAP cadets in their ranks.
NASA astronaut Lt. Col. Eric Boe, USAF, and former Air Force Thunderbird Maj. Nicole Malachowski, are two former CAP cadets who applied their skills and experience to their military careers.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with almost 60,000 members nationwide. It performs more than 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.
The members take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 60 years. Information about the Colorado Wing of the CAP is available on the web at http://www.coloradowingcap.org.