by Marcia Moran
The Omaha Composite Squadron had six cadets and two senior members attend the Nebraska Wing Ground Team Academy (Pathfinder) 2015 at the end of July. Cadets Ethan Copple, Ty Sarvis, Catriona Garrett, Bryce Moran, Mathew Johnson, and
Chaim Hayward plus Lieutenants Alex Engel and Marcia Moran joined about 30 other CAP members from various squadrons and had a great weekend of learning what it takes to become a Ground Team Member. The academy kicked off on Friday afternoon at the City Well Field in Freemont, NE where a tent city soon began to form. After a safety brief and some basic instruction, everyone had the contents of their 24-hour packs checked as these will become a vital asset on all the ground team missions. The large group was then divided into three ground teams. We were then instructed on how to properly use a GPS, followed by ELT training. Just when we thought it was lights out for the night and we could finally sleep, everyone reported for a late night GPS training mission that lasted well past midnight! For many, sleep was minimal thanks to the train activity and the blaring of the horn throughout the night.
Saturday’s training began early with outdoor classes on land navigation, maps and compasses, communications, and what to do in a missing person situation. After that we learned to properly form a search line and how to keep the group at the same walking
pace/orientation. It’s so important to be vigilant while doing this otherwise a person or evidence could be easily missed. We then split up in five vehicles for an offsite ELT exercise and learned how to triangulate the signal we had been trying to locate. This also gave the seniors in the group a chance to learn Ground Team Leader responsibilities and delegate jobs to the cadets. The cadets learned how to use the radios, and the importance of documenting all communications and instructions. After a quick lunch back at the academy, we headed right back out for an offsite scenario of a missing child. The groups formed line searches in thick woods along the Platt River. OCS’s very own C/2dLt Ty Sarvis found our missing person making the search a success. After another long day and few breaks, we welcomed lights out with no surprise late night missions. However the surprise came in the wee hours with strong winds, lightning, and heavy rain. Some had the foresight earlier in the day to add an extra layer of tarp and recheck the tent stakes. Though some nerves were rattled as much as the tents were, everyone was okay.
Sunday morning started off with a lesson on evidence preservation and intelligence gathering. This was helpful, as the seniors had to do a mock interview with someone with a missing
relative. After comparing notes and pinpointing where we think the person was, we went out for one final mission. With the last brief behind us and the tent city dismantled, the Ground Team Academy came to an end. It was fast paced, we slept little, but we learned a lot. The importance of having a smart phone was stressed over and over, but I think most would agree the most important piece of equipment is our notepad. The OCS would like to thank all of the instructors, including Col. Kuddes, for providing their time and instruction and ensuring the Ground Team Academy was a success.