Call of Duty -- for many teenagers and adults this is a very popular video game. For members of Maryland Wing, especially this past month, it has been the way we live our lives.
We started out flying our first Chesapeake Bay patrol mission for the state. Right off the bat we were tasked to assist the US Coast Guard looking for a missing person in the water. By the end of that long day four different aircrews, two incident commanders, and a ground team had been involved in that search, a distress beacon search, a missing person search with a personal locator beacon activation along with bay patrol. The wing was credited for two finds and two saves. Look for more in the next issue of the Volunteer magazine.
We were evaluated by the U.S. Air Force a week later during our biannual search and rescue evaluation. This exercise includes evaluating how the wing performs counterdrug missions, search and rescue, disaster assessment, missing persons, and aerial imagery missions. After a long week of work the wing received a grade of Highly Successful, the highest grade possible. Our region commander, Col. Joe Vazquez, was on hand and praised our dedicated, highly trained members for a well done job.
The end of the month brought the start of the Tri-Wing Encampment. This year there are 286 members participating. This is one of the premier cadet programs in our wing each year. This year we also are holding a region cadet leadership school for more experienced cadets to hone their skills in leadership.
This past month we also had the privilege to fly Fertile Keynote missions, one of our homeland security missions. For operational security reasons, only aircrews and key personnel are “in the know” about these missions but we fly them on a regular basis. Following one of these missions one of the aircrews flew a training mission to work on some emergency locator transmitter direction finding skills, continuous training is all part of the job. While heading for the training area the crew picked up two actual distress signals. Coordinating with a ground incident commander (IC), the aircrew continued their flight while taking continuous readings. Upon landing they handed over their data to the IC who had a mission activated by the National Operations Center and was able to get the crews who would be flying the mission a big head start. The other crew was at the end of their duty day and for safety reasons could not fly the mission.
Over a 1,500 well trained, unpaid professionals answered the call of duty for the wing this past month. Weekly meetings, SAR training, actual SAR missions, Bay Patrol, cadet training, Homeland Security, Bay Patrol; the list goes on and on. This is the call we answer to serve.
Let me close by congratulating our own Lt. Col. Bill Duke. He was selected to receive the national 2011 Jack Sorenson Cadet Program Officer of the Year. This award is given to honor most outstanding person in cadet programs in the Civil Air Patrol. Col. Duke has given years of service to the cadets of the wing and I can’t think of anyone I know more deserving of this award. Please join me in congratulating him on this well deserved honor.
As the fourth of July quickly approaches and we are in full swing of summer, my wish is that you all have an enjoyable and safe summer.
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Commander, Maryland Wing