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News from the New Mexico Wing
NM Wing Change of Command Caps Exciting Aerospace Extravaganza
By Maj Dave Finley
ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- In an impressive change-of-command ceremony attended by CAP National Commander Maj Gen Amy Courter, Col Richard Himebrook handed over the reins of the New Mexico Wing to Col Mark Smith on 25 June. The ceremony, held at Albuquerque's Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, concluded a two-day Aerospace Extravaganza featuring an exciting lineup of aviation and space-related activities.
A member of CAP since 2005, Col Smith is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who retired as a Colonel. A pilot with more than 3,500 hours in F-4D, AT-38B, and F-15C aircraft, Smith served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He commanded a fighter squadron and directed the Air Force's award-winning Joint Advanced Distributed Simulation Joint Test and Evaluation Program. He currently works as an independent consultant to industry. In CAP, he has served as a squadron commander, director of the Southwest Region Staff College, and as NM Wing Vice Commander.
"On behalf of the entire New Mexico Wing, I want to thank Col Himebrook for his truly outstanding performance as wing commander, and congratulate him on a job well done. We wish him and his wife Roberta the very best for this next chapter of their lives. I'm happy that he has agreed to serve as Advisor to the Commander and continue to give us the benefit of his vast pool of knowledge," Smith said.
Southwest Region (SWR) Vice Commander Col John Varljen presided over the change-of-command ceremony, also attended by incoming SWR commander Col Frank Buethe and New Mexico National Guard Deputy Adjutant General Brig Gen Paul Pena.
Among the numerous tributes and gifts to the outgoing wing commander was a framed, minature American flag and NASA patch that flew to the Moon aboard Apollo 15.
The ceremony capped two days of exciting aerospace-education activities that drew participants from around the state. These activities included workshops for cadets and senior members, an in-depth tour of the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array radio telescope, an extensive flight-line tour at Kirtland AFB, and tethered hot-air balloon rides at the balloon museum.
The featured speakers at the Aerospace Extravaganza were famed aviation pioneer and CAP Col Mary Feik, after whom a cadet achievement award is named, aerospace engineer Robert Sandusky, chief engineer on the YF-23, and Colonel Edward J. Masterson, Chief of the Spacecraft Technology Division, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB.
The New Mexico Wing of the CAP has more than 900 members in squadrons throughout the state. The wing was established in 1941 and its members have been serving in volunteer missions since World War II.
New Mexico Civil Air Patrol Earns "Excellent" Rating
By Maj Dave Finley
The New Mexico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) earned an "Excellent" rating from U.S. Air Force evaluators during an intensive evaluation of the Wing's emergency-services operations on Saturday, 30 April 2011. The evaluation involved CAP members throughout the state who demonstrated their abilities in search-and-rescue, disaster-relief, and homeland-security operations.
"I'm extremely proud of our team's performance. This wing is made up of great people and it shows," said Colonel Richard Himebrook, the NM Wing Commander.
During the evaluation, New Mexico crews flew CAP aircraft under the control of a command post at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The aircrews and ground personnel practiced a variety of missions similar to those CAP regularly is called upon to perform.
Ten aircraft and 70 CAP members participated in the exercise. Members from CAP units in Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Clovis, Farmington, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, Roswell, Santa Fe, Socorro, and Taos were involved.
Scenarios in the exercise included an overdue aircraft, wildfire reconnaisance, transport of blood plasma, and a number of aerial photography assignments. The primary focus for much of the day was on searching for a simulated overdue private aircraft carrying a state legislator that failed to arrive at its destination on a flight from Farmington to Alamogordo.
"That is a long route that covers a lot of territory, and makes for a challenging search," said CAP Major Scott Zenonian, the Incident Commander for the exercise.
Other missions involved transporting simulated blood plasma from Roswell to Ruidoso, reconnaisance of active and recent wildfire sites, and reconnaisance of facilities considered potential targets for terrorist attacks.
The Air Force evaluation team set up the scenarios to test the New Mexico Wing's capabilities to operate, manage, and prioritize the efforts of its equipment and personnel. The exercise focused on maximizing teamwork, interfacing with other organizatons, and using standardized procedures.
"In a sense, this was a stress test for our emergency-services team, with the Air Force throwing simulated difficulties at us to see our responses," Zenonian said.
The simulated difficulties included injury to a pilot before a flight, making him unable to fly as planned, and an emergency evacuation of the mission base, forcing the incident commander and his staff to operate from an alternate location. In one CAP aircraft, an Air Force passenger ordered a simulation of the pilot becoming incapacitated, and a non-pilot crew member had to take over flying the plane, which he did right up to the final moments before landing.
"What makes me especially proud is how every participant, both senior member and cadet, worked well together as a team. This was the main ingredient in the wing performing so well," Himebrook said.
Test messages and directives from the Air Force evaluation team began setting up the scenarios earlier in the week. In response to one of those directives, CAP members operated a radio network demonstrating statewide communications capability on Thursday.
The New Mexico Wing of the CAP has more than 900 members in squadrons throughout the state. In addition to 13 aircraft, the wing has numerous vehicles and an extensive, self-contained radio communications network. The New Mexico Wing was established in 1941 and its members have been serving in volunteer missions since World War II.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 60,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and was credited by the AFRCC with saving more than 100 lives last fiscal year. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 69 years. For more information on CAP, visit gocivilairpatrol.com
CAP Aircrew deplane on flight line at Las Cruces. Navy T-34C trainers in background. (Photo by Capt Dave Finley)
Las Cruces Hosts Successful Multi-Agency Exercise
B y Capt Dave Finley
The New Mexico Wing teamed with other agencies for a combined air-ground search-and-rescue (SAR) exercise based at the Las Cruces airport on Saturday, 5 March. The all-day exercise included multiple scenarios and provided extensive experience in multi-agency coordination and communication.
CAP members from Las Cruces, Roswell, Alamogordo, and Socorro joined with the Organ Mountain Technical Rescue Team, Dona Ana County SAR, and Mesilla Valley SAR teams, Las Cruces Fire Department, Radium Springs Volunteer Fire Department, and the New Mexico State Police to practice emergency services missions. Five scenarios were conducted simultaneously, with searches for an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), a lost hiker, an injured climber, aerial survey of possible flooding, and aerial survey/photographs of a possible wildland fire.
Three CAP aircraft flew sorties and five ground teams took to the field. The ground teams included two technical-rescue teams and one team mounted on ATVs. More than 60 personnel from all agencies participated in the exercise. The exercise was directed from an Incident Command Post at the headquarters of the Las Cruces Composite Squadron at the Las Cruces airport.
The Incident Command System was implemented using Unified Command with staffing from multiple agencies including CAP, Organ Mountain Technical Rescue, Mesilla Valley SAR, and the Las Cruces Fire Department. The command structure worked extremely well.
All the searches succeeded in accomplishing their objectives.
"This exercise proved to be an excellent opportunity to work with other agencies and practice communicating with them effectively and cooperating closely in making the missions a success," said Lt Col Paul Cline, the Incident Commander.
CAP Shines at the Legislature
CAP cadets present colors in the chamber of the New Mexico House of Representatives, 25 February 2011. Cadets and senior members visited the Legislature, met with lawmakers, and watched proceedings. The day was officially proclaimed "Civil Air Patrol Cadet Day" by Gov. Susanna Martinez, recognizing the benefits and contributions of the CAP cadet program. (Photo by Philip Fischer.)
ELT was transmitting aboard shrink-wrapped aircraft being transported by truck. (Photo by Lt Col Paul Cline)
Errant ELT in a Shrink-Wrapped Airplane
By Capt Dave Finley
When a satellite report indicated an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was activated south of Santa Fe on 31 January, New Mexico Wing personnel responded as they have done many times before. A ground team went to the reported location expecting to find an aircraft. However, they found nothing.
Surprisingly, the next satellite report of the same ELT indicated it was near Anthony, in the far southern part of the state. Clearly, the aircraft carrying this transmitter wasn't crashed and wasn't stationary!
As it turned out, the plane was moving, but not under its own power. "It was sitting, shrink-wrapped, on the trailer of an 18-wheeler," explained Lt Col Paul Cline, the NM Wing's Director of Communicatons, who found the aircraft.
Cline had received a call from Lt Col David MacLaughlin, the Wing's Emergency Services Director, giving him the new location of the ELT.
"I immediately got a hunch, and called the Flying J Truck Stop in Anthony," Cline recalled. "I asked if there was a truck in their parking lot with an airplane on it. The guy said yes. I told him to not let the truck leave until I got there," Cline said.
When Cline arrived at the truck stop, he confirmed the ELT was in the shrink-wrapped airplane, then went inside and turned it off. The plane, an Orion experimental model from V-Raptor, LLC, was enroute to the manufacturer's facility in Sebastian, Florida.
"The truck driver said he'd been hauling planes for 20 years and never had that happen before," Cline said.
Navajo Code Talker Wilfred Billey with NM Wing cadets at 2010 Wing Conference. (Photo by 1stLt Helen Green)
Wing Conference 2010: An Exciting, Successful Gathering
By Capt Dave Finley
New Mexico CAP members gathered for an information-packed and exciting Wing Conference 12-14 November in Farmington. The program included speakers from National Headquarters and the Southwest Region, and a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from a World War II Navajo Code Talker.
Efficiently hosted by the Farmington Composite Squadron, the conference opened with a Friday-night reception and pool party. The official proceedings got underway Saturday morning in a general session featuring informative updates on aviation and CAP. David Ploeger, Director of the New Mexico Aviation Division, outlined the State's plans for airport improvements and took questions from members. Special guest John Salvador from National Headquarters, brought members up to date on nationwide developments in CAP.
NM Wing Commander Col Richard Himebrook outlined the state of the wing, citing statistics and accomplishments from the past year. He illustrated his presentation with photos from his visits to squadrons throughout the state. The CAP Southwest Region was represented by the Region Inspector General, Lt Col Sharon Lane, a familar face to NM CAP members.
For many, the highlight of the conference was a special "fireside chat" Saturday afternoon with Wilfred Billey, a New Mexico native and World War II Navajo Code Talker. Recruited out of high school in 1943 by the Marine Corps, Billey joined the unique group of Navajos who used their native language to provide secure communications to American forces in the Pacific war. Their code never was broken by the Japanese.
Billey told of his experiences in Marine Corps boot camp, the special training he and the other Navajos got in becoming combat radiomen, and of the realities of combat as Marines invaded island after island in the drive toward the Japanese homeland. A veteran of battles at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, Billey returned home, earned bachelor's and master's degrees, and spent 40 years as a teacher, counselor, and school principal.
After speaking and taking questions from seniors and cadets, Billey signed autographs and posed for photos with cadets, each of whom now has a personal connection to an honored and heroic part of American history.
On Saturday and Sunday, the conference included learning labs on a variety of topics, including finance, encampments, transportation, emergency services, operations, professional development, aerospace education, communications, and public affairs. A special session offered coaching on public speaking for cadets, and other sessions offered tips on web page design, Microsoft Excel, and the Becker direction finder.
The Saturday night banquet and awards ceremony was entertainingly emceed by Capt Anthony Torres and marked the social highlight of the event. The evening's keynote speaker was NM State Representative Tom Taylor, the House Minority Leader and a pilot.
The Farmington Composite Squadron, led by Maj Scott Zenonian, did an outstanding job of organizing and conducting the conference. Their efforts paid off in an event that was enjoyable and rewarding for all attendees.
The 2011 NM Wing Conference will be held in Albuquerque.
NM SAR Exercise a Successful Training Experience
By Lt Col Jay T. Tourtel
SANTA FE—New Mexico Wing’s Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), held on 23 October at Santa Fe Municipal Airport, was largely successful, according to Maj. John Gravel, CAP, incident commander. Both aircrews and ground teams accomplished most of their objectives, with two scenarios being aborted due to inclement weather.
CAP Gulf Effort Tops 10,000 Volunteer Hours, 1,000 Flight Hours
CAP is providing a huge level of support to the efforts to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The CAP effort now has surpassed 10,000 volunteer hours and 1,000 flight hours. Some are calling this CAP's biggest mission since the antisubmarine patrols of World War II. This is an effort that all members can cite with pride. For full details, see the news on the CAP national web site.
Eagle Squadron Cadet is SW Region Cadet of Year
By Lt Col Paul J. Ballmer
Cadet Major Daniel E. Paulsen of the Eagle Cadet Squadron, New Mexico Wing, was presented with the Southwest Region Cadet of the Year Award by Colonel Joseph C. Jensen, Commander of the Southwest Region, during the New Mexico Wing Commander’s Call and Staff Meeting June 26.
Cadet Paulsen has served the New Mexico Wing as the Cadet Commander for the 2008 Winter Encampment and the Commandant of Cadets for the 2009 Winter Encampment as well as being a squadron representative to the wing’s Cadet Advisory Council. In November 2009 he was given the New Mexico Wing Cadet of the Year Award. He was awarded the Commander’s Commendation Award for his service as the 2008 Winter Encampment’s Cadet Commander. In 2006, Paulsen was selected as the Honor Cadet of the 2006 New Mexico Wing Summer Encampment.
In the Eagle Cadet Squadron, Paulsen served as the Cadet Commander, Assistant Administration Officer, Assistant Moral Leadership Officer, Assistant Leadership Officer, Executive Officer, Flight Commander, First Sergeant, and Flight Sergeant. He was the Squadron’s Cadet of the Year in 2008, and the Enlisted Cadet of the Year in 2006.
Paulsen also has been active in many community activities , including serving on the summer staff of the Spring Canyon Officer Christian Fellowship Conference Center, and doing volunteer work for the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) La Luz Academy on Kirtland AFB. He also assisted with maintenance and concessions for the Mile High Little League and is a member of the youth group in his church.
Outside of the Civil Air Patrol, Paulsen works as an Engineering Aide with the Junior Space Scholar Student Temporary Employment Program at the AFRL La Luz Academy, where he serves as a computer technician completing setup, configuration, and maintaining three classroom computer labs that support science, technology, engineering, and math-related activities for students from fifthgrade through high school.
Paulsen recently graduated from High School and will attend the Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, beginning in September.
Paulsen has only to complete a speech and an essay and serve the required time and he should earn Civil Air Patrol’s Ira Eaker Award and the rank of C/Lt Col in July.
NM Cadet Goes to Coast Guard Academy
A Socorro cadet is making the transition from the New Mexico desert to the Connecticut seacoast as he joins the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's Class of 2014. Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Trey Thunborg of the Socorro Composite Squadron was sworn in at the academy in New London, CT, on 28 June.
Thunborg is one of 290 members of the academy's incoming class, selected from more than 4,000 applicants. The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is ranked among the nation's most prestigious and selective institutions of higher learning. The smallest of the nation's five federal service academies, it provides a highly-structured environment for a unique higher-education experience focusing on academics, athletics, leadership, and professional military development. Graduates gain commissions as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Thunborg has been an outstanding CAP cadet, joining the newly-formed Socorro squadron as a charter member in 2007. He was one of the first two Socorro cadets to be promoted to Cadet Airman in August of that year, and was the first of that squadron's cadets to gain each new rank thereafter. He was the honor cadet at the New Mexico Wing's summer encampment in 2008, and attended National Blue Beret in 2009.
"As a cadet, he took on a leadership role almost immediately," said squadron commander Capt. Dave Finley. "He learned quickly and just as quickly turned around to teach our younger cadets and those who joined us later. He developed into an effective cadet leader, and was looked up to by all the other cadets," Finley added.
Thunborg was a standout scholar and athlete at Socorro High School, and was recognized for his achievements at the school's annual awards ceremony on 12 May, just prior to his graduation. At that ceremony, Thunborg was formally presented with his certificate of appointment to the Coast Guard Academy (Photo above). With no Coast Guard representative available, Finley was tapped to make the presentation.
"It was a great honor to present Trey with his certificate in front of his fellow students and their families. It was gratifying to see him get a well-deserved standing ovation when he came forward to receive the certificate," Finley said. "All of us in the Civil Air Patrol are very proud of his success and his dedication to serving our country. We wish him the very best of luck in his new endeavor."
NM Wing Conducts ICS-300 Course
The New Mexico Wing conducted an ICS-300 course at Wing Headquarters 21-23 May. This FEMA course, Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents, is not offered online and must be taken in person. It is a requirement for numerous CAP Emergency Services specialties, as well as for leadership/management roles for personnel from agencies responding to incidents.
The course was led by CAP Lt. Col. Larry Nelson and featured outstanding instructors with a broad range of experience and expertise. Enrollment was not limited to CAP and attendees included members of police and fire services as well as search-and-rescue and Community Emergency Response Team organizations. This provided the dual benefit of allowing the CAP attendees to learn from those representing other agencies and for the CAP members to make those personnel more aware of the functions and capabilities of CAP within the emergency-services community.
This cross-training aspect was particularly effective during the many small-team, scenario-based exercises conducted throughout the course. CAP members found themselves answering numerous questions about CAP's role and capabilities.
Reminder: Change to Non-"U.S." Command Patch
A reminder that the transition period is over and there now is only one approved CAP Command Patch. That is the one announced in 2008 that does not include the "U.S." Wear of the new command patch on uniforms became mandatory on 1 March 2010. Emblems with the "U.S." on vehicles and aircraft will be phased out through attrition.
Wing Conducts Successful Unit Commanders Course
Current and potential unit commanders got the benefit of the experience and expertise of seasoned CAP officers at a Unit Commanders Course held at NM Wing Headquarters in January. The course, directed by Lt Col Mark Smith, received enthusiastic reviews from participants.
2009 New Mexico Wing Conference a Great Success
By Capt. Dave Finley
The 2009 New Mexico Wing Conference, held 13-15 November in Las Cruces, featured seminars, socializing, outstanding presentations, and top-flight entertainment by a talented and famous CAP member. Attendees heard from Wing Commander Col. Richard Himebrook, Southwest Region Commander Col. Joseph Jensen, and Mr. Joe Curry from National Headquarters. Other featured speakers included Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Dr. William Gutman of Spaceport America, and Col. Michael Schwartz of the NM National Guard.
Aviation legend Col. Mary Feik made a return visit to the NM Wing Conference, hosting a popular fireside chat with cadets, and the closing Awards Banquet was treated to a performance by Lt. Col. Paul Salas of the Texas Wing, with his famous reincarnation of Frank Sinatra.
The event began Friday evening with popular social events at the conference hotel, the Ramada Palms de Las Cruces. Senior members attended a reception hosted by Col. Himebrook, the Wing commander, while cadets enjoyed an indoor poolside party. These events were great opportunities for members to make new friends and network with members from squadrons throughout the state.
The formal conference began Saturday morning, with a General Assembly in which participants were welcomed to Las Cruces by Mayor Miyagishima, then heard a report on the state of the Wing from Col. Himebrook. The Wing commander was followed by William Gutman, Technical Director for Spaceport America, Joe Curry from National Headquarters, and SW Region Commander Col. Joseph Jensen. Gutman's presentation brought members up to date on the progress of construction at New Mexico's spaceport, which will be headquarters for Virgin Galactic's commercial suborbital space flights. The spaceport is expected to draw tourists from around the world and provide many aerospace-related jobs in the state.
Following the morning's General Assembly, there were numerous seminars on different aspects of CAP, including safety, logistics, aerospace education, professional development, and drug demand reduction. During this period, Col. Mary Feik held a fireside chat with cadets. As a legendary test pilot, mechanic, and aircraft restorer, Feik is highly popular with cadets and thoroughly enjoys talking with and inspiring young people.
At the end of the afternoon, participants gathered for another General Assembly that featured speakers from New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Branch Community College, outlining technical and training programs at their institutions. A highlight of this assembly was an inspiring presentation by Col. Michael Schwartz of the NM National Guard.
Following a late-afternoon social hour, members convened for the Awards Banquet. An excellent dinner was followed by numerous awards recognizing achievements throughout the Wing over the past year. The top awards included: Squadron of the Year, Albuquerque Senior Squadron II; Cadet of the year, C/Maj Daniel A. Paulsen; Senior Member of the Year, Major Donna E. Bracken; Family of the Year, the McNichol family; and Decade of Dedication award, Lt. Col. James H. Gary.
The evening closed with eagerly-anticipated entertainment by Lt. Col. Paul Salos, of the Texas Wing. Salas, who was active in CAP missions following Hurricane Katrina and the Columbia space-shuttle disaster, has perfected an impersonation of Frank Sinatra that carried him to the top 10 on the "America's Got Talent" TV show. Salas has performed his Sinatra show for audiences around the world, and the NM Wing members received his performance enthusiastically.
On Sunday, a nondenominational devotional service was followed by additional seminars on communications, finance, inspector general, and a meeting of the Cadet Advisory Council. As the conference ended, all who participated felt it had been a rewarding and interesting meeting.
"The Las Cruces Composite Squadron did an excellent job in organizing this conference, and we appreciate all their hard work. They made it possible for members from throughout the state to meet, network with each other, learn new things about CAP, and have a good time," concluded Col. Himebrook. Himebrook also commended the Las Cruces Composite Squadron's Cadet Color Guard for their opening and closing colors ceremonies.
NM Wing Gets "Excellent" Rating in OPSEVAL
By Capt. Dave Finley
The New Mexico Wing completed its OPSEVAL, a major statewide emergency-services exercise, on 26 September, in which a U.S. Air Force evaluation team gave the Wing an overall rating of Excellent.
The CAP members demonstrated their skills in aerial search and rescue, disaster relief, and support for homeland security. The Air Force team directed the exercise by providing a simulated scenario involving overdue aircraft, massive wildfires, and terrorist threats. New Mexico CAP members working in the air and on the ground reacted to the simulated incident reports, which presented them with multiple problems and changing scenarios.
"This was an excellent chance for our team of emergency-services specialists to react to a rapidly-changing and fluid situation. Our members had to plan operations, change those plans quickly to address new priorities, and conduct operations under the stress of a swiftly-changing situation," said Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock, the Incident Commander for the exercise.
Colonel Richard Himebrook, commander of the New Mexico Wing, congratulated the team, saying their excellent rating is "well deserved and showed not only what the New Mexico wing can do, but reflects well on CAP as whole."
More than 50 CAP members, including crews for nine aircraft plus support and communications personnel on the ground in locations around the state, participated in the exercise. The operation was planned and controlled from a mission base at the Farmington airport. The Wing received an overall Excellent rating with 8 Excellent and 5 Successful subarea ratings. Especially mentioned were the Flight Line crew led by Lt. Griffin Lane and Capt. William Fitzpatrick, the Communications group led by Capt. Glenn Mauger, and Plans led by Lt. Col. Dave Simonson.
Aircraft were directed to numerous locations, including Cochiti Dam, Navajo Dam, Heron Lake, El Vado, Chaco, Silver City, and Hatch, as well as the track of a "missing" helicopter in the Four Corners area. The CAP flying crews made visual searches of the ground, as well as taking digital photos of specified locations and rapidly providing those photos for detailed analysis by ground personnel. The flight crews also used specialized equipment for locating emergency locator radio beacons activated by aircraft crashes.
During the exercise, the Air Force team added difficulties for the CAP, such as simulating one of the CAP aircraft going "missing," ground personnel showing signs of extreme stress, and a forced evacuation of the command post. "They threw us some curve balls, but our team reacted effectively and professionally," Hitchcock said.