Archive for March 31, 2015

OCS members recognized at NE Wing Conference

Awards presentation at the NE Wing Conference General Assembly

The 2015 Nebraska Wing Conference was held on March 27th-28th at Camp Ashland, which doubles as the Nebraska Wing headquarters. The weekend began with registration and a meet and greet on Friday evening.  Saturday morning activities began promptly at 8am. The General Assembly began with the Call to Order, followed by Commanders’ Roll Call, safety briefing, and Col. Darrell Nelson, Nebraska Wing Commander gave the State of the Wing address.  Awards were presented to Cadets and Seniors from across the wing, and the State of the Region address was given by Col. Regina Aye, NCR Vice Commander.

Following the General Assembly, various breakout sessions were offered, ranging from Aerospace Education, Finance, Transportation, Inspector General, Professional Development, Operations, Communications, Safety, Emergency Services (air and ground), etc.

The ICUT Refresher breakout session was led by Col. Steve Kuddes.

The “Tech Tools for Pilots” presentation was led by Maj. David Coover and Maj. John Pineda

Following the conclusion of the Wing Conference day schedule, the attendees traveled to the evening banquet to enjoy an evening midwestern style meal at the “Round the Bend Steakhouse” near Ashland, Nebraska.   Following the dinner, the guest speaker for the evening, retired Brigadier General Dayle Williamson, addressed the guests, and listed the accomplishments of the Civil Air Patrol since its inception one week before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He went on to compliment Civil Air Patrol members as the “Most Well-Trained Volunteers” in the country.

Following his speech the awards ceremony for the year were presented.  There are too many to list, but the Omaha Composite Squadron was highly recognized for its successful dedication to both Cadets and Seniors.  The following 2015 Awards were presented to members of the squadron:

  • Quality Cadet Unit Award
  • Air Force Association Award – C/2dLt Ethan Copple
  • NE Wing Rickenbacker Award – C/2dLt Ethan Copple
  • Frank G. Brewer Aerospace Cadet – C/Col. Christopher Pineda
  • Gen. Carl Spaatz Award – C/Col Christopher Pineda
  • NE Wing Cadet of the Year – C/Col Christopher Pineda
  • North Central Region Cadet of the Year – C/Col Christopher Pineda

Capt. David Lewis receives the Quality Unit Award from NE Wing Commander, Col. Darrell Nelson.

C/2dLt Copple receives the Nebraska Rickenbacker Cadet of the Year award.

C/2dLt Copple also received the Air Force Association Award.

C/Col. Christopher Pineda was selected as the Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Cadet of the Year.

C/Col Christopher Pineda was Selected as the Nebraska Wing Cadet of the Year.








C/Col Pineda received the General Carl Spaatz Award and the rank of Cadet Colonel from Retired Brigadier General Dayle Williamson.








NCR Vice Commander Regena Aye, presents C/Col. Christopher Pineda with the Region Cadet of the Year Award.

C/Col Christopher Pineda, addressed the guests after receiving his Col. Spaatz award, thanking everyone who helped him along the path to his Spaatz achievement, and encouraged all cadets to work hard to achieve the goals they set for themselves, reminding them to remain humble and don’t demand respect from your peers, but earn EARN that respect.

Congratulations to all the Members of the Omaha Composite Squadron for their hard work and determination.  We look forward to another year of adventure and excellence.  Semper Vigilans!



WWII Veteran Edward Sobczyk visits OCS

Sobczyk returns to Slapton Sands 70 years later.

OCS was honored to have WWII Army Veteran, Sergeant Edward Sobczyk, visit the squadron to recount his experiences during WWII.  The 95 year old veteran is the great-uncle to one of the squadron’s cadet members, who was willing to invite Mr. Sobczyk to share his first hand account of the events he participated in during WWII, many of which went unrecognized for over 70 years.

Sobczyk recounted the early days following his enlistment, when the requirement for joining his special Army unit included running 10 miles, free-climbing a mountain, and swimming 1,000 yards.  He was sent to the European theatre of operations, traveling through Belfast (Ireland), and Exeter, London, Plymouth (England) and finally arriving at Slapton Sands, where he took part in Operation Tiger, the training exercise and Mock Invasion of France by Allied forces.  Unfortunately, the military training session was ambushed by German u-Boats and several ships were sunk.  Over 700 men died in the ambush, and Ed Sobczyk helped save over 100 men by loading them aboard LST boats.  For this action, he was nominated for the Silver Star, which was subsequently denied, as the Army Brass refused to officially acknowledge that the incident occured.  Allied commanders feared that the Germans would have linked the exercise to the planned invasion of Normandy, and chose to bury the incident in secrecy in spite of the amount of lives lost on that day.

Ed Sobczyk addresses the squadron regarding his WWII experiences

When Allied forces stormed the Coast of Normandy on D-Day, Sobczyk was part of the initial group that led the invasion on Utah Beach.  Loaded with 70 to 80 lbs of gear, his mission was to take out the enormous, fortified German gun emplacements on the coast.  Over 200 troops from his unit were lost on that day.  Sobczyk’s helmet sustained a direct hit from a sniper during the assault, which penetrated his helmet liner, earning him the first of two Purple Hearts.

During actions across German lines, his unit was hit by an 88mm round, losing 6 of his fellow soldiers and knocking him unconscious.  Two days later Sobczyk awoke in a cemetery surrounded by other dead soldiers.  His personal belongings had been removed and the only item remaining on him was his dog-tag, having been presumed dead.  His family had been notified of his death, yet he managed to survive and crawl out and find help. He was taken to London to care for his injuries.  After agreeing to have his leg amputated, the decision was reversed after surgery  -without anesthesia – determined that his leg could be saved.  In spite of these injuries, he was returned to the front lines 38 days later.

OCS Cadets stand proud with WWII veteran Ed Sobczyk

Ed Sobczyk took part in the five major battles of WWII, including the Liberation of Paris (For which he received the Red Cord worn on his right shoulder), Battle of the Argonne Forest (Bronze Star), and the Battle of the Bulge.

Visiting Paris 70 years after the liberation of the city

After the War, Sobczyk returned home and was mistakenly arrested, believing that he was an Austrian, due to a case of mistaken identity on his birth certificate. Ed Sobczyk was privileged to spend an hour speaking with President Truman, who initiated the process to give him his long overdue recognition for his heroic action in Europe.  This effort was eventually stone-walled, and it took another 70 years for him to receive the recognition due to him from a grateful nation.  Click here for the story.  In all, he received an additional 11 medals for his heroic efforts.

Sobczyk visits one of his fallen comrades in France

In April of 2014, Sobczyk, along with members of his family, returned to the site of the Slapton Sands memorial in honor of those lost during Operation Tiger.  He was honored by civilian and military dignitaries from across Europe, including a personal representative sent by the Queen of England.  He later visited the sites in France, where he once again paid a heartfelt visit to his long lost comrades buried there.

The Omaha Composite Squadron is extremely honored and proud to have hosted Sergeant Ed Sobczyk.  The historical significance and the sacrifices endured by the greatest generation will never be forgotten.  The Omaha Composite Squadron’s Cadet Commander presented Mr. Sobczyk with a Squadron patch and cap in appreciation for his service and dedication to the service to his country.

Photo credits: Mr. Bradley Brown

Squadron Cadet Commander C/Col Christopher Pineda presents Mr. Sobczyk with a token of our appreciation.


OCS Cadets with news anchor Rob McCartney

The Omaha Composite Squadron was invited to the KETV news station on February 16, 2015. Cadets were able to watch a live broadcast of the 6pm news featuring news anchors Brandi Peterson and Rob McCartney, son of the OCS’s Deputy

Cadets and guests observe a live news broadcast.

Commander Lt Col Robert McCartney. It was exciting to see the live show and equally exciting to see all the behind the scenes work involved in putting the 30 minute program on. Everything was choreographed with the camera men and producers, live feeds, and even the commercial breaks!

Everyone learns the sequence of the news broadcast.

The cadets had time for questions and answers with the crew, as well as sitting in the anchor chairs, but the fun came when the news was over and the cadets entertained themselves with the infamous green screen! They pretended to do the weather forecast, and learned how to make their bodies disappear using a green cloth in front of the green screen. This presented some very funny moments of dancing, floating heads and two-headed bodies!

Brandi Peterson’s live broadcast of the evening news.

Capt. David Lewis tries his turn at being a meteorologist.

Cadets forecast for Tuesday: COLD…







Cadets also visited the control room where pre-recorded news segments from the field are fed into the live broadcast, and learned how the commercial segments are coordinated from another city hundreds of miles away.


Floating head in the forecast

The green screen that makes the weather forecast possible.

Prior to leaving the studio, the cadets presented KETV with an appreciation gift for this great opportunity. Thank you to all that were involved for your time and hospitality, and for sharing this experience with the Omaha Composite Squadron.

Future evening news anchors?


OCS members visit the Strategic Air & Space Museum

The Strategic Air & Space Museum

On a cold February day, the Omaha Composite Squadron paid a visit to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, NE.  Cadets and seniors arrived at 9:45am and gathered at the entrance in the presence of the enormous SR71 Blackbird static display which towers impressively, seemingly suspended in mid-air as a memory to its unrivaled service during the cold war years.

OCS cadets pose before the impressive SR-71 Blackbird static display

The tour began promptly at 10am in the lobby adjacent to the Blackbird display. Our tour guide gave us a detailed explanation of the mission and capabilities of the SR-71,

Face to face with the SR-71 Blackbird

which remains one of the fastest operational aircraft in history.  The aircraft, which was designed by Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson in a time when slide rulers were the principal engineering design tools, remained ahead of its time even to this day.  One ironic piece of trivia involved the material used to build the aircraft: titanium.  In order to procure the raw material for the aircraft, the US had to secretly acquire titanium from the Soviet Union, the precious metal’s largest producer, and the Blackbird’s main reconnaissance objective.

The tour proceeded to the balcony overlooking the main floor of the Museum where our tour guide explained details on each of the

The U-2 Reconnaissance aircraft suspended over the cadets.

aircraft suspended from the ceiling, and directly below us.  among them, the U-2, F-86, T-33, F-84, F-101 Voodoo, etc. We then visited the B-25 Mitchell display and were given a detailed recounting of the Doolittle raid over Tokyo in 1942.  A prominent map painted on the

LtCol. McCartney recruiting a future cadet.

museum floor, recounts the daring mission to  visitors.  For his successful accomplishments, Billy Mitchell was presented the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the mission showed the Japanese, that their nation was no longer out of reach by the United States.  The bombing of Japan also proved a huge morale boost for the American public.





B-25 Mitchell bombers like the one shown here were flown off an Aircraft Carrier in order to bomb the Japan in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Other aircraft on the main floor included the B-36 Peacekeeper, B-52 Stratofortress, XF-85 Goblin, Nebraska Air National Guard’s own RF-4 Phantom, B-17 Bomber, F-111 Aardvark, etc.  The cadets were able to board the B-17 Flying Fortress and experience the closed quarters which became home for many of the American Airmen who flew over the European theater during WWII.

Cadets get an inside tour of the B-17 Flying Fortress.

RF-4 Phantom of the Nebraska Air National Guard


After departing the main display floor, we were given privileged access to the restoration hangar, where a C-54 restoration effort is underway.  The aircraft in this hangar are salvaged form locations across the country and brought back to life so that future generations can continue to get a glimpse of the contributions of aviation to America.

C-54 Restoration project.

“The complete restoration of an aircraft at the Museum takes, on average, two years and approximately 10,000 man-hours of labor.  Usually, only one aircraft is worked on at a time, due to space in the restoration hangar, as well as the quantity of volunteers.”

A work in progress looms in the foreground vs. a completed project in the background

An American flag hanging in the background in remembrance of the 9-11 attacks.

Our tour guide explains Omaha’s connection to the B-29 Superfortress


Our tour concluded next to the B-29 Superfortress as our tour guide explained its ties to Omaha and the connection to the bombing of Hiroshima which helped bring an end to the second World War.  The Enola Gay, which is permanently displayed at the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum, was built in Omaha.

Following the tour, the cadets proceeded to ride the full motion simulators, then wound down with a healthy lunch at the Museum’s diner, followed by a visit to the gift shop.

The Omaha Composite squadron is grateful to the staff and volunteers of the Strategic Air & Space museum for their time and dedication in preserving America’s Military aviation treasures.

OCS cadets outside the Strategic Air & Space Museum