by C/Capt Sara Pineda
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.