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Celebrating our Members’ Successes

Gregory Matya

Droning On – Central Edition

The Federal Aviation Administration is expanding its outreach with in person events around the country, beginning with a three day drone event in our Central Region (Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri). The event is entirely free and open to the public, taking place on the campus of University of Nebraska-Omaha, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, May 12th to 14th. Some activities, opportunities, and target audiences are listed below:

Droning On: Central Edition will take place May 12-14, 2022 at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, from 9am-4pm each day. The event consists of 3 days of activities, and you will find some examples below:

  • Thursday, May 12: For Students
    • Universities and colleges with UAS programs
    • Companies/organizations that are looking for drone professionals
    • Tools for educators
  • Friday, May 13: For Careers
    • Public Safety Training
    • Local/Tribal Government best practices and resources
  • Saturday May 14: For Friends and Family
    • Drone Demos
    • TRUST Sessions
    • AAM

Drone Orientation Day

CAP Members: Positions for the Drone Orientation activity on April 9th are full! The response has been extremely positive, and we look forward to providing more training in the near future.

Please check back with us for additional dates in the upcoming months!

Member Spotlight – Capt. Meredith Wichman

From time to time, the Omaha Composite Squadron receives updates from former and current members who wish to update us on their academic and professional ventures, milestones and successes. Most recently, we caught up with Capt. Meredith Wichman, and would like to share her success story with all of you.

Capt. Meredith Wichman is a former Cadet of the Omaha Composite Squadron who reached the Carl Spaatz Achievement Award milestone during her tenure as Cadet Commander at OCS. A little over four years ago, Meredith was accepted into the USAF ROTC program at Oklahoma State University.

Fast forward to 2022, and Capt. Wichman will be graduating with honors in May with two degrees, a BS in Aerospace Engineering & a BS in Mechanical Engineering. She has received the ROTC Academic Honors award 7 times, been on the university honor roll 6 times, been recognized as one of the Top 20 Freshman, and been inducted into 3 engineering honors societies and 2 scholars programs. She has completed over 350 service hours including an international service trip to Guatemala with Engineers without Borders, and been been active in Arnold Air Society for 4 years including serving as Squadron Commander and receiving a national award. Through ROTC, Meredith has gained a lot of leadership experience, worked an internship with AFWERX, participated in Operation Air Force and the Women in Aviation International Conference, and studied Arabic through Project Global Officer.

Capt. Wichman will be graduating in May and Commissioning as a 2nd Lt and Pilot-select in to the United States Air Force. She will be going to Columbus, AFB in Mississippi for Undergraduate Pilot Training. She has also applied to a couple of programs to obtain her Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering with an emphasis in hypersonic aerodynamics or propulsion, and another to pursue foreign language studies.

Congratulations to Capt Meredith Wichman for her commitment and hard work in accomplishing her goals, and for serving as an inspiration to our fellow members across the entire organization.

OCS In-person Meetings have resumed

OCS meetings have resumed at our normal location.
Location: 8901 S. 154th Street, Omaha, NE 68138
(Basement level on Left side of Building)
– Cadets meet every Monday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
– Seniors meet on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every Month at 7:00pm
– Pilots – an additional meeting may be held on the third Week of every month for Pilots in order to cover items related to safety, regulations and proficiency.  Check calendar  for specific location before coming out!

Online Character Development Meeting – March 23rd, 2020


OCS Cadets and Parents,
Please be on the lookout for an email form the squadron with details for Monday’s Character Development (March 23rd, 2020) online meeting. We will try to have a quick connectivity test on Sunday night to make sure most of you are able to access the conference call.

In order to maintain a higher level of engagement with the members of our squadron during this unprecedented quarantine, we will be scheduling online conference calls to coincide as much as possible with our scheduled in-person meetings on Monday nights. We want to continue helping our cadets remain engaged and progress through their ranks & achievements with as little disruption as possible.

This will be our first attempt at this type of format, so we ask for your patience as we work out the kinks we encounter as we move forward.

On Monday, March 23rd, 2020 we will be meeting at 7:15pm for a Character Development portion. The reason we are starting at 7:15pm is two-fold: First, conference call software providers are asking everyone to consider starting at off-peak times, which happen to be exactly on the hour or half-past the hour, and we want to avoid degrading everyone else’s bandwidth and connectivity. Second, as we are just starting to familiarize ourselves with this format, we will not have as much content available during our first few meetings. We ask that you please bear with us.

It is my hope that we will soon overcome this virus, and our lives will return to normal. Feel free to reach out to the Squadron Leadership if you or anyone in your family is in need of any assistance. We will try our utmost to help where possible.

OCS Leadership


Due to the outbreak of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, National Headquarters is requiring that all non-mission critical meetings and large gatherings be postponed until
May 11th, 2020.
We will be in contact with our members to provide updates as well as testing opportunities and online meetings when possible.
If you have any questions or need to get in touch with us, please contact us vis the online callback request form here: Contact Us

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.