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Gainesville Cadets Ride with the Coast Guard

posted Jul 16, 2012, 9:11 AM by William McCombie

Looking for people in distress is just one of the duties that Civil Air Patrol performs in as part of its core missions. Aircrews and ground crews are equipped to locate signals, such as emergency locator transmitters (ELT's) and provide assistance. Not all such assistance, however, can be performed by CAP. A ground crew could not, for example, reach someone stranded in a boat off the coast. This is where the US Coast Guard comes in.

On May 5 2012, cadets and senior members from Gainesville Composite Squadron experienced this first hand on a tour of the US Coast Guard station in Yankeetown, Florida. Organized by Gainesville Cadet Commander C/1stLt Tyler Gwynn, the overnight trip included several activities, including a campout. “We set up camp, I taught a class on fire making, and then we roasted and made s'mores”, said Gwynn. In addition to learning how to make a fire, the cadets practiced searching for a target using a compass and map as well as first aid.

On the second day, after physical training and breakfast, the cadets got to tour the facility, where the they learned about operations and duties of the Coast Guard, such as security at the nearby Crystal River nuclear power plant. One of the highlights of the tour was a yellow Labrador dog named Mayday. “He was an amazing dog and did tricks. You could put a bone on his nose and he would eat it when you told him to.” commented Maj. Frank Foster.

Four cadets were given the opportunity to ride on the boat. Equipped with full pilot seats and five-point harnesses, a stainless steel interior and two 250hp engines, this was boat designed for rescue. After going out several miles, the crew then performed a man-overboard demonstration, taking about 45 seconds from the moment the call was made to the moment the crew member was back on the boat. “They let each of us take turns driving”, mentioned C/A1C Andrew Geelhoed. Not everything went as planned, however. “On the way out, one of the engines failed on us and they [the mechanic] had to repair it.”, said Geelhoed. “It had hydraulic steering, so with one engine out, you couldn't steer.”