Photo provided by Civil Air Patrol
Ready for action
ISLIP TOWN—Members from various Civil Air Patrol (CAP) units in Nassau and Suffolk counties showed their numbers in support of Sunday’s “Celebration of Vintage Transportation” at the Bayport Aerodrome. The units’ various roles at the event included directing traffic, parking lot management, crowd control and tour assistance—altogether ensuring the general safety of the spectators and protection of the vintage displays.
To facilitate the undertaking, Communications Officer Maj. Wayne Smith established a command post at one of the hangars, where the rest of the command staff split the participants into teams equipped with safety vests and inter-squad radios in order to promote safe mobility to points on the aerodrome’s grounds and prevent attendees from restricted areas near moving aircraft. The cadet members who attended ranged in ages 12 to 18 and are trained for such exercises as a benefit of membership.
Smith noted that of the approximately 450 CAP volunteers on Long Island, roughly half are cadets.
“The cadet program is a big part of what we do,” said Smith. “We have a leadership and airspace education component, and they also receive orientation flights sponsored by the U.S. Air Force as part of the program.”
First Lt. Andreas Niens, officer-in-charge of the CAP detail, managed CAP’s support operation from start to finish with his assistant, Cadet Capt. Derek Profit.
“I am absolutely impressed with the 100 percent participation of both [Civil Air Patrol] cadets and senior members,” stated Niens, who was among the last to go home.
CAP Captain Warren Weiss praised the younger cadets for their efforts throughout the day.
“[They] should commend themselves for their dedication and professionalism,” said Weiss, who also serves as the group’s public affairs officer. “The volunteers are indeed credits to their communities and to the organization.”
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions in tandem with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), by which it is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually.
The organization’s 58,000 nationwide members also perform homeland security, disaster relief, and drug interdiction missions—such as its Demand Reduction Program at the request of federal, state and local agencies, including playing a significant role in assessing the range and scope of damages in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and after Hurricane Sandy.
In 2014, Civil Air Patrol received the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. Congressionally chartered 74 years ago, the nonprofit organization also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans.
In addition, Civil Airmen play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the nationwide cadet program.
“It’s phenomenal to see how they all interact with each other,” said Niens regarding the cadets, who also noted that the cadets maintain a hierarchy in which they train themselves. “We work together with local politicians, law enforcement, and schools to bring an alternative lifestyle out there that’s based on a little more discipline, order and positive energy, like strength through teamwork.
“We’re always looking for more members,” added Niens. “We still call it the best kept secret in the United States.”
Long Island Group Civil Air Patrol is currently headquartered on the grounds of Islip MacArthur Airport. For more information, visit lig.nywg.cap.gov.
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