OCS sees near-record number of cadet and Senior promotions

by C/Capt Elizabeth Nelson

The first Monday of every month at the Omaha Composite Squadron is a cause for celebration. On December 3rd, 2018, a total of 16 cadets and 2 senior members promoted, coming close to the record 19 who ranked up earlier in 2018 in one night. Nonetheless, it has been a record setting year.

Cadet promotions on December 3rd ranged from C/A1C to C/1stLt. It isn’t uncommon to see a wide difference in the progression of each cadet on ‘blues’ night.

C/1stLt Reid Sherman is no stranger to ranking up. He said that he always had an interest in flying, but with the military style environment in Civil Air Patrol, he just had to join.

“I was amazed at how far I had come in Civil Air Patrol, and I was able to look back at all that I had accomplished in the cadet program to get this far.  It’s a rare treat when you get to think about what it took for you to get where you are, and all the people that helped you on the way. I encourage all cadets to stop, just for a brief moment, and remember what it took to earn each accomplishment,” C/1stLt Sherman said.

C/SrA Ariana Bryant, who joined CAP after speaking with an Air Force Academy Liaison Officer, visited OCS once and knew it was for her.

“When I promoted, I was very happy. It is a recognition of the work that has been put in. Promoting means you are one step closer to achieving your goals. It is also a motivator to keep working to earn the next promotion,” C/SrA Bryant said.


The OCS Squadron Commander, Major John Pineda, cited the need for more cadet officers on the promotion packed Monday, and encouraged cadets to keep continuing through the requirements of each achievement.

“I’m very proud of the cadets for taking charge of their promotions and continuing to advance in their respective achievements.  They will all benefit tremendously as they gain new leadership skills and responsibilities, but they serve as role models for the new cadets who are just now being introduced to the program,” Major Pineda said.

The senior members have their own promotions track, each achievement harboring a new set of tasks and a sense of higher responsibility.

Major Christopher Criscuolo has a son at OCS who promoted the same night, and received a challenge coin from Major Pineda.

Captain Christopher Pineda, a former cadet who achieved the highest award within the cadet program, became a senior member and began sharing his knowledge and experience with newer members.

“Stepping into the position of squadron leadership officer as a newly promoted captain gives me a deeper appreciation for what I worked so hard for as a cadet. I’m excited to start working with the cadets from a higher level than I could in the past and help them develop into strong leaders,” Captain Pineda said.


OCS looks to shatter more records in 2019, expanding the aerospace education, emergency services, and cadet corps. The squadron is constantly looking to better itself, and its members never settle for anything less than excellence.


OCS Reaches to the Edge of Space.

The Omaha Composite Squadron took giant leap in its Aerospace Education Program in 2018. Beginning in 2017, the squadron Aerospace leaders began to brainstorm an activity in which all aspects of the Cadet Program could be utilized, and which would allow Cadets and Seniors to work together towards a unified goal. That activity was the launching of a payload to the edge of space using a helium-filled High Altitude Balloon (HAB).


Our research began by consulting with organizations in the area that had accomplished this task, and learn from them, what kind of minimum requirements and expectations we should hope for as novices in this area. In October of 2017, 2d Lt Kirk Rasmussen, Omaha Composite Squadron’s Aerospace Officer presented the proposal to the cadets.   Cadets were separated into various groups, including payload, digital payload and data, Launch and Recovery teams.

Over the next 6 months, OCS members worked together as teams to have a working project ready for a spring launch date. That day came on April 28th, 2018. The Chalco Hills Recreation Area parking lot was selected as the launch site.   An FAA NOTAM was filed in advance for the local area, and after carefully preparing and testing the working condition of all electronic sensors, cameras, receivers and transmitters in the payload harness, the parachute and balloon were attached. Seniors supervised the filling of the Balloon with Helium, as cadets carefully prevented it from drifting or swaying towards the ground.


Soon, the countdown was initiated, and the balloon lifted into the cool Nebraska skies and began climbing slowly in a southeasterly direction. The Omaha Composite Squadron Office became the mission base for the tracking and coordinating the retrieval of the balloon, while a recovery team departed in the squadron van in the general direction of the HAB’s travel. Communications between Misison Base and the recovery team consisted of HAM radios and eventually text messages to the team once they were out of radio range.

After reaching an altitude of 35,000 feet near Nebraska City, the HAB crossed into Iowa and began a rapid climb, reaching 60,000 feet by the time it reached Hamburg, IA. It then turned east and continued passing quickly to altitudes that surpassed everyone’s expectations. The HAb finally reached an altitude of 103,385 feet over Shenandoah, IA, and popped. The payload began a fast vertical descent for nearly 40,000 feet into denser atmosphere and the wind began carrying it south into Missouri at 98 mph! The Recovery team, which had reached Shenandoah and had been directly under the HAB, would several hours of travel time before reaching the final landing. Senior members at Misison base were closely following the track of the HAB online via the SPOT E.L.T. transmitter, and the HAM radio APRS system online.   The final resting point of the payload was 2 miles northwest of Burlington Junction, MO.

Mission Base transmitted the last known location of the payload sensors via text message to the Recovery team. The recovery team was only able to reach a dead-end road about 2a mile away from the target location. They then deployed a UAS towards the last known location of the target while receiving live video imagery from the location below the UAS. Within minutes, the team was able to locate the bright red parachute from the air! After noting the actual coordinates, the team traveled on foot to find the intact payload resting on the banks of the Nodaway River – only 50 feet away from the water!

As an Aerospace activity, the High Altitude Project was an unqualified success, and a team-building experience that taught everyone involved how to work towards a common goal, and how the actions of several teams working together on different aspects of a project can come together to reach new heights.

Omaha Composite Squadron – 2018 Summer Activities

The beginning of the September school year marked the end of an eventful Summer for the Omaha Composite Squadron. This year, OCS sent a record 18 Cadets to the Nebraska Wing Encampment. 14 attended as basic cadets and four as encampment staff. Cadets participated in Marksmanship training, rappelling, and Blackhawk helicopter flights provided by the Army National Guard. A record 9 cadets received full scholarships to attend the activity as well.


The OCS color guard was invited to present the colors during game 11 of the College World Series.

Two cadets attended the Iowa Wing Encampment, with one of them acting as Deputy Cadet Commander.

Three cadets participated in the Nebraska Ground Team Academy (Pathfinder) weekend in Fremont, putting into practice many of the techniques learned during their classroom training. This training enabled them to move even closer to getting their Ground Team Qualifications, and invaluable skill towards the unit’s Emergency Services goals.


Two OCS Seniors and one Cadet participated in the Johnson Glider Flight Academy. C/2dLt Noble Rasmussen graduated and received the Distinguished Glider Student award. Feedback received from the Instructors at the flight academy, indicated that cadet Rasmussen “was a natural.”

The beginning of July was marked by the presentation of two Ira Eaker Awards and the promotion to C/Lt Col of two of our cadet members; the presentation of the VFW Outstanding NCO and Officer awards, and the presentation of the Air Force Sergeants Association outstanding squadron cadet award.

In July, three OCS cadets attended the National Blue Beret Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, during the EAA Airventure airshow, where they each earned the Search and Rescue Ribbon, as well as the Find ribbon for their efforts in locating activated ELTs during the two week activity. Our unit’s very own C/Col Meredith Wichman received a surprised visit by the CAP National Commander, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, in order to present her with the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Achievement Award.

On August 15th, Cadets and Seniors were able to tour the 155th ARW Firefighting facilities, and boarded a KC-135 tanker for a refueling mission of an RC-135 over the Midwest.

At the end of August, the annual OCS squadron picnic was held at the Chalco Hills Recreation Area, with over 150 family members and friends in attendance, along with a few prospective cadet and senior members. The following weekend was followed by Cadet Orientation Flights for several of our newest cadets.


The end of summer was topped off with OCS cadets and Seniors assisting at the Council Bluffs Fly-In breakfast.

As we write this article, OCS was also notified that it has received the Quality Cadet Unit Award (QCUA) along with two other units in the Nebraska Wing: The Curtis LeMay and 155th Composite Squadrons.

OCS Cadet Earns her Spaatz Achievement Award

On the 10th of July, 2018, the Omaha Composite Squadron was notified that C/Col Meredith Wichman had successfully completed the rigorous knowledge and physical requirements for advancement to the position of Cadet Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program.   This was the culmination of 3 ½ years of outstanding leadership and volunteer service, not only with Civil Air Patrol, but also as part of her extracurricular involvement at school and in the community.   Cadet Wichman has also distinguished herself as the current Nebraska Wing Cadet of the Year.

Immediately after receiving the results of her Spaatz achievement examination, C/Col Wichman departed for the National Blue Beret encampment in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to take part in the busiest airshow in the world; by far, the most visible national activity for the Civil Air Patrol cadet program. It was during her second week at the EAA AirVenture airshow, that CAP’s National Commander, Major General Mark E. Smith surprised C/Col Wichman and presented the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Achievement Award certificate and triple diamond rank to C/Col Wichman, in the presence of the 155 cadets present at the activity. Cadet Wichman was able to pay one last visit to her cadet peers a the Omaha Composite Squadron, and give words of encouragement prior to departing for College.

Cadet Wichman is currently attending Oklahoma State University on a U.S. Air Force ROTC as well as an academic scholarship to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, as well as a Professional Aviation degree. Her goal is to receive a commission in the United States Air Force. We wish her the best of luck in her studies and future endeavors.

OCS crews help with Low Level Route Surveys

During the Month of August, the SD Civil Air Patrol approached the Nebraska Wing for assistance in flying the Low Level Route Surveys for several of the Military Operating Areas and Training Routes that the South Dakota Air National Guard uses for training purposes. Crews from various units in Eastern Nebraska, including the Omaha Composite Squadron, were briefed on the mission to locate any new towers or structures that have appeared in the area over the past year. Using GPS equipped cameras and GPS loggers, crews flew the predetermined routes, plotted, photographed and logged the details of every new tower, feedlot, confinement area, etc that could be a potential noise sensitive area or hazard to flying in general. This information is used to update the FAA charts, as well as the military charts used for training purposes.   Among one of the most useful skills developed during the flights, was the ability to transfer flight plans from crewmembers’ mobile apps into the G1000 system in the aircraft, which provided a critical timesaving tool for future flights.

OCS Recognized as Nebraska Wing Outstanding Unit and Squadron of Merit

Congratulations to the Omaha Composite Squadron for the following Nebraska Wing Conference unit and individual awards:
– Arthur C. Storz Victory Award, Best Unit, 2017
– NE Wing Squadron of Merit 2017
– NE Wing Cadet of the Year
– NE Professional Development Officer of the Year
– NE Public Affairs Officer of the Year
– NE Frank G Brewer AE Cadet of the Year
– North Central Region AE Cadet of the Year
– NE Frank G Brewer Senior AE Officer of the Year
– AFA Evelyn Sharpe Aerospace Educators of the Year
– NE Pilot of the Year
– NE ES Cadet of the Year
– AFA Outstanding Cadet
– 2 NEWG Commander’s Commendations
– NCR CyberPatriot 3rd place team

Thanks to the hard work of our Senior & Cadet volunteer members.  NONE of this would have been possible without the contributions of each and every member!

Additional photos can be accessed by clicking on this link.

Outstanding Unit and Squadron of Merit Nebraska Wing Civil Air Patrol

Nebraska Wing Arthur C. Storz Outstanding Unit Award

OCS Cadet Commander, C/Maj Wichman, was selected as the Nebraska Wing Cadet of the Year.

OCS awarded the NE Wing Squadron of Merit for 2018

2017 OCS Year in Review Video

OCS Year in Review2017 – Omaha Composite Squadron Year in Review Video

Posted by Omaha Composite Squadron on Monday, December 12, 2017



2016 OCS Year in Review video


OCS Year in Review2016 – Omaha Composite Squadron Year in Review Video

Posted by Omaha Composite Squadron on Monday, December 5, 2016



Busy Summer for OCS

by C/Capt Sara Pineda

NEWG Encampment Participants from OCS

The summer of 2017 will be a yet another busy one for the members of the Omaha Composite Squadron, jam-packed with excellent opportunities to perform community service and gain valuable experience. Cadets and senior members alike will be able to participate in many activities that will both serve the community and provide valuable training. Some of those activities have already been completed, and some are are currently underway!

Cadets passing out Poppies in Support of American Veterans

Poppies for American Legion







As for the activities that have previously taken place this summer, the first was Omaha Composite Squadron’s opportunity to help the American Legion raise funds for disabled veterans. On the cold, humid day of May 20, Armed Forces Day, OCS cadets and seniors gathered outside a Baker’s grocery store to distribute small paper poppies, handmade by veterans of the American Legion. OCS members requested that all who accepted a poppy would wear it proudly in honor of American veterans who have sacrificed their own health, peace, freedom, or lives for the sake of preserving America’s peace and freedom. OCS members also made donation jars available to those willing to donate to the American Legion’s efforts to provide rehabilitation and therapy to veterans in need.

OCS members manning the CAP tent at ‘Sand in the City’ 2017

From June 7 through 12, OCS members provided security presence for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society’s Sand in the City fundraising event. On each day of the event, cadets and senior members were present around the clock to ensure that the impressive sand sculptures remained undisturbed and safe from crowd interference.

NEWG SAREX training

OCS members participated in each Nebraska Wing Search and Rescue Exercise held from April through June, and may participate in further SAREX’s later this summer. The April 22, May 13, and June 10 SAREX’s provided invaluable preparation and training to the attendees, including damage assessment, ELT search, basic first aid, and aircrew training. SAREX attendance will count toward the attending members’ search and rescue qualifications and certifications. Recently, C/Capt Michael Pineda became Omaha Composite Squadron’s newest Ground Team Member 3 certified member.

NCR National Flight Academy graduating class included C/Capts Wichman and Pineda

Five OCS cadets will be attending various National Cadet Special Activities this summer. Two cadets are currently attending the North Central Region National Powered Flight Academy, which began on June 15 and will see each of its cadet students complete approximately ten hours of flight time and a solo flight before the end of the Academy on June 29. From July 8 through 16, one cadet will attend the Hawk Mountain Search and Rescue school, where cadets will be provided with exceptional search and rescue and emergency services training. Beginning July 10 and ending July 22, another cadet will attend Cadet Officer School, where cadet students will study an in-depth Air Force approach to the skills of leadership. Finally, one more cadet will attend the Engineering Technologies Academy of Robotics from July 22 through 30, where cadets will learn to design, engineer, construct, program, and operate robots.

C/2dLt Matya attended Hawk Mountain Ranger School in PA.

C/Capt S. Pineda attended Cadet Officer School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama with nearly 100 other cadets.

C/SMSgt Hayward attended the E-Tech Robotics National Cadet Activity in Camp Pendleton, CA.

C/Capt Nelson staffed the Joint Dakotas Encampment

As for upcoming events this summer, Omaha Composite Squadron’s CyberPatriot Team, still growing, with a current number of seven cadet members, will begin training this summer for upcoming state, regional, and, hopefully, national competitions. “CyberPatriot aims to introduce middle school and high school students to several different computer operating systems, and to teach them how to secure those systems,” said Maj John Pineda, OCS’s CyberPatriot coach. “In six-hour competitions, teams of students are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems, then they must find cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and strengthen the system while maintaining critical services. Teams who find the most vulnerabilities will move on to the next round.” Teams first compete for the top placement within their state, then that of the region, and finally, the top teams in the nation earn all-expenses paid trips to Baltimore, Maryland for the National Finals Competition, where teams can earn national recognition and scholarship funds.

C/SrA Rodriquez at NEWG Encampment

Rappelling tower at Wing Encampment…

… and the Firing range.

In July, fifteen Omaha Composite Squadron cadets will attend encampments in three Wings within the North Central Region. June 24 through July 1 will see two OCS cadets attend the Missouri Wing Encampment. One cadet will have the experience of staffing the Joint Dakota Encampment from July 7 through 16. Finally, from July 9 through 15, twelve OCS cadets will participate in the Nebraska Wing Encampment, with two of those cadets serving on encampment staff. “I’m looking forward to the great activities my first encampment will provide,” said Omaha Composite Squadron’s C/SSgt Andrew Pineda, speaking about the upcoming Nebraska Wing Encampment. “I think I’m going to have a lot of fun during the marksmanship and rappelling lessons!”

Wingnuts flying circus Color Guard at Tarkio, MO

OCS Color Guard at the College World Series

For many of OCS’s cadets and seniors alike, the Wingnuts Flying Circus Airshow in Tarkio, Missouri will be the highlight of the summer. According to C/Col Christopher Pineda, the Tarkio airshow is the squadron’s “favorite aviation event of the year,” and OCS members will agree! Members will arrive on July 6, two days prior to the airshow itself, to assist airport personnel in preparing the small airport for the show. On day 1, many unique and impressive aircraft will begin arriving for their upcoming show performances. The next day, members will be able to help direct arriving aircraft toward airport personnel for parking, and will provide a presence for the spectacular night airshow of July 7. On July 8, members will yet again provide assistance and cleanup, this time for the much longer main airshow. Following the show, members will help airport personnel by directing departing aircraft toward the runway, and tidying up the airport. Before departing for Omaha on the morning of July 9, cadets will have an incredible opportunity to tour many of the World-War-II-era trainer aircraft.

OCS present at the NE State Fly-In in Norfolk, NE

Members also participated or are currently scheduled to participate in other activities, including: Nebraska State Fly-In, Unit Commander’s Course, Region Staff College, Squadron Leadership School, NE Wing Pathfinder Ground Team Academy, and Minnesota Ground Team Academy in Camp Ripley, MN.  One Cadet, who is currently an ROTC student at the University of Nebraska also attended Marine Corps Officer training school, in Quantico, VA.

Squadron Leadership School participants

Finally, at the end of July, cadets had the opportunity to wind down by having a kayak outing at the squadron lake and try their skills on one of our member-provided Segways.

Cadets heading out in groups of kayaks on the lake

A cadet tries to master the Segway challenge.

With so many activities and opportunities taking place in 2017, there will be some form of training or community service for every member of OCS. Whatever the activity, any member who participates will gain invaluable experience for future use in further Civil Air Patrol, and possibly civilian, events.

C/2dLt Sarvis attends Officer Training School in Quantico VA.



Happy 40th Anniversary OCS!

On May 2nd, 1977, the Omaha Composite Squadron was given its official charter by Civil Air Patrol.

The squadron began as the Omaha Cadet  Squadron, and eventually grew into a Composite squadron as Senior members began fulfilling the many missions of the Civil Air Patrol.

40 years later, the Omaha Composite Squadron has 64 volunteer members (31 Cadets and 33 Seniors) and has custody of two modern G-1000 Cessna aircraft.  Our members volunteer in support of local, state and national activities such as Cadet Flight Training, Orientation flights, Aerospace Education, Search and Rescue operations, Emergency Services training, Senior Professional Development and recurring training, Cadet CyberPatriot competitions, support of Federal and State Emergency agencies, and a variety of Community Support activities.

Congratulations to all our members on this special occasion!

OCS Charter - 1977