'So Many Wounded and So Much to Do'
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing, Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Author: Southeast Region Public Affairs.

Linda Pugsley said she will be carrying the banner of all who served in the nation’s military while serving as grand marshal in this weekend’s Veterans Day Parade.

But the chaplain/ lieutenant colonel will have a special affinity for Vietnam veterans, who she said got a rough homecoming when they returned from the war.

Pugsley, who will also be guest speaker at the memorial service to follow the parade, volunteered for the Vietnam War and served two tours as an Air Force flight nurse. There she treated and helped evacuate the wounded from June 1968 to July 1969, and again in 1972.

Pugsley said the memories of those she cared for will be in her mind during the parade.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet thing,” she said. “My heart’s going to be full.”

Retired Col. Curt Ebitz, member of the Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776 Military Order of the Purple Heart, met Pugsley earlier this year when she was the keynote speaker at the 12th annual Purple Heart ceremony.

Ebitz said she made a big impression on everyone there and was a natural choice for grand marshal.

“She was such a well-received speaker (that) her name came up right away,” Ebitz said. “She’s a very inspirational speaker. She doesn’t pull any punches. She says what’s on her mind.”

Broken Hearts

A native of Massachusetts, Pugsley graduated from nursing school in 1966 and was working as an R.N. trauma nurse at Boston City Hospital when she chose to join the U.S. Air Force Reserve. After basic training and flight school, she was ready to go to Vietnam.

There were plenty of nurses and physicians on the ground, she said, but few in the air. She wanted to change that.

“It was extremely intense in the fall of 1969 due to the number of casualties. We were evacuating 10,000 wounded per month,” she said.

Patients were loaded onto C-141 cargo planes and flown for several hours to major care facilities in Japan or the Philippines, Pugsley said. The survival rate for wounded soldiers in Vietnam was only 70 percent.

“Heavy-duty nursing care was required for the trips,” she said. “If they could walk onto the plane they were considered lucky.”

Flight nurses would accompany the wounded across the Pacific to the U.S. where they were admitted to hospitals as close to their hometowns as possible, Pugsley said.

“There were just so many wounded and so much work,” she recalled. “We knew their lives would be severely affected but you didn’t have time to mourn or grieve for them. We nurses had to stuff a lot of our feelings just to be able to concentrate on keeping them alive.”

"As the saying goes, ‘Men got Purple Hearts and their nurses got broken hearts,’” she said.

Still Active

After the war, in 1978, Pugsley resigned her position as a flight nurse with the rank of major to pursue a career in the ministry. In 2003 she was ordained and is currently an associate pastor at Great Hope Christian Fellowship in Tampa, where she lives.

At age 71, Pugsley said, “I feel good and still run marathons.” She also remains a chaplain in the USAF Auxiliary/Civil Air Patrol, and works mostly with veterans in five counties.

“It’s like coming full circle,” she said. “As a young flight nurse I tended to the physical wounds of soldiers. Now, as a chaplain, I tend to the spiritual and emotional wounds of vets.”

There is a bond that forms between those who share the horrific experiences of war, Pugsley said.

“It transcends everything. And it never goes away,” she said.

SRQ Cadets Attend Bivouac at MacDill Air Force Base
Filed under Region Hq, Florida Wing, Cadet Programs, Group 5 on Monday, November 6, 2017 by Author: 1st Lt. Christopher Carroll.

From October 13-15, cadets from the SRQ Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol (CAP), joined by cadets from Florida Wing Groups 3 and 5, participated in a search and rescue training bivouac at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

While the bivouac served as an introduction to emergency services for first-time cadets to work on the Ground Team Member, Level 3 qualification, several more experienced cadets attended the bivouac to gain additional experience in emergency services.

Cadet/Technical Sargent Adrian Ryan Taylor said, "I really enjoyed instructing the younger generation of cadet's who will soon take my place. I also enjoyed helping the cadet's work towards their ground team qualifications."

After welcome speeches and a safety briefing, cadets learned about preventing and treating hot and cold weather injuries and how to conduct field sanitation.

On Saturday, cadets divided into two flights. One flight learned how to search for a missing person by using a wedge formation in a wooded area. The other flight headed for an open field to learn how to conduct a standard search line and a delayed start search line. The two groups switched places to become fully trained in the different types of search lines. Next, cadets learned how to locate a distress signal from a practice beacon and how to work with soft litter and standard medical grade hard litter carriers.

On Sunday, cadets put their training to work with two search and rescue practice missions. One mission had the cadets searching for a missing person in the woods. The other focused on locating a distress beacon and attending to crash scene victims, ultimately moving them to safety.

"I thought the most useful portion of the training that weekend was when the cadets had to extract a victim from a location with harsh terrain, when they got to put their training to use," Taylor said.

In addition to providing training for actual emergency situations, cadet events such as this build strong friendships and create unforgettable memories for cadets.

Through CAP's cadet program, cadets have the opportunity to experience survival training, flight training, photography, astronomy, model rocketry and more.  Each year, cadets participate in special activities at the local, state, regional or national level. Many cadets have the opportunity to fly an airplane for the first time through a flight encampment or academy. Others enjoy traveling abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program. Still others assist at major air shows throughout the nation.

Based at the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, the SRQ Composite Squadron is one of more than 1,700 Civil Air Patrol squadrons across the nation. The SRQ Composite Squadron includes 96 members: 59 senior members and 37 cadets. Members put general aviation to its best use, dedicated to saving lives, flying counter-drug missions, participating in homeland security efforts, providing disaster relief, advancing young people, and supporting America’s educators. For information about the SRQ Composite Squadron of CAP, visit http://fl044.flwg.us.

Cadets prepare for search and rescue mission. (Photo Credit: Capt. Ann Marie Kozloski, CAP)

FLWG Group 7 Cadets First In Southeast Region to Particpate In Veterans Day Parade
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing on Sunday, November 5, 2017 by Author: Florida Wing Public Affairs.

During the 75th Anniversary of the Cadet Program, Florida Wing Group 7 cadets took time out of their busy schedules to recognize the contribution of our nation's veterans by participating in the Town of Miami Lakes parade, on Sunday, November 5, 2017. Miami-Dade County was some of the hardest hit by the hurricanes that were experienced by Florida. 

The parade commenced at 10:00 AM and proceeded south on NW67th Avenue between the north and south intersections of Bull Run Road. Following the event emcee's announcement about the flight of cadets, when it passed the reviewing stand, there was loud applause from the crowd of enthusiastic spectators.

Proudly representing the Civil Air Patrol was a flight of cadets commanded by Cadet 2nd Lt. Christopher Starnes of the Tamiami Composite Squadron. The flight was comprised of twenty cadets from three FLWG Group 7 squadrons. The squadrons represented were Miami Springs Optimist Cadet Squadron, Opa-Locka Cadet Squadron and the Tamiami Composite Squadron. The cadets were accompanied by five senior members.

Knocked Down, but Not Out, MICAP Back on Patrol and Operational
Filed under Region Hq, Florida Wing, Group 5, Florida Feature on Saturday, October 28, 2017 by Author: Maj. Marian Motyl-Szary.

On October 7th, just short of a month after Irma struck and dealt a devastating blow to the Marco Island Senior Squadron (MICAP) hangar, the Squadron was operating from “temporary” facilities and launching its weekly Wilderness Waterway Coastal Patrol.  

But that is not the total story, because now the real work begins - work that requires all the community help the squadron can get. Within the next few weeks, the destroyed hangar section of the Civil Air Patrol building at Marco Executive Airport will be cut away and removed.  Once that has been accomplished, bids will be solicited for rebuilding the hangar.  

Fourteen years ago, it was through the generosity of our community and CAP members that the building and hangar were successfully funded and erected. The resulting MICAP facility was the pride of the Florida Wing and envied by CAP Squadrons all over America. 

"At the time of construction, the gold star standard was to build for a Cat 2 storm. Obviously, we’ll need to rebuild to current code specifications," said Marco Squadron Commander, Bob Corriveau.

Immediately after Irma left Florida, CAP aircraft were brought back into Florida and stationed at the Punta Gorda Airport performing aerial reconnaissance missions for FEMA in response to the Irma disaster. MICAP mission pilots and mission radio operators volunteered for these missions.

Meanwhile, back at the Marco Airport, arrangements were made for a temporary hangar was for the aircraft through the the generosity of squadron member 1st Lt. Bill Rodgers.

The CAP plane returned to MICAP on Sunday, October 1st. All hands were on deck during that first week of October to perform the following: wash and polish the plane to prepare it for further assignment and secure the plane in the temporary hangar.

The members also installed a temporary radio station and antenna at the south end of the airport terminal building. Under the direction of assistant communication officer, Major Jim Carrender, the communications system was tested and approved. This put the squadron on schedule and ready for the first coastal patrol mission scheduled for Saturday, the 7th. 

“Communications are vital to our missions. Our aircraft needs to report its activity to mission base every 15 minutes, so without a radio station, missions cannot be performed,” explained Corriveau.

"Bringing the Squadron back to operational readiness would not have been accomplished without the untiring help and assistance of Collier County Airport Authority Manager Justin Lobb," said Corriveau. 

Lobb commented, “we have a long and friendly relationship with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and will do whatever we can to facilitate their getting back to normal operations.” 

Bob Boone - Dave Dumas - Bob Corriveau back on the job at temporary hangar 

Jim Carrender puts up the temporary antenna

Dave Dumas - Justin Lobb - Bob Corriveau at the temporary communications room 

Charlotte County Cadets earn Distinguished Honors and Promotions
Filed under Florida Wing, Cadet Programs, Group 5 on Friday, September 22, 2017 by Author: SM Donna Jablonski.

The cadets of the Charlotte County Composite Squadron continue their hard work of achievement, taking on additional responsibilities and participation in a variety of activities. The Civil Air Patrol cadet program is designed to foster leadership and good citizenship in America’s youth with an emphasis on public service.

“As they earn recognition and gain rank, they are challenged to learn and grow in ways that only the CAP cadet program offers,” said Major Earle Bretz.

Recently, Mikehla Hick received one of CAP’s highest-ranking awards -- the General Ira C. Eaker Award-- and earned her the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, an accomplishment that less than 1% of the approximate 25,000 active cadets will achieve.

The 17 year-old Hicks has been with the Charlotte County Squadron for five years.  Last year, she entered Florida Southwestern Collegiate High School and is currently dual-enrolled at Florida Southwestern College.

Bretz added, "She is an excellent role model for what these young adults can achieved through hard work and dedication."

In 2016, Hicks began working towards earning her private pilot certificate. She has already soloed and plans to have her pilot license before turning 18. Her goal is to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, or other university with a Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Her areas of interest for academic studies include linguistics and political science.

Major Gerald Lewis, Commander of the Charlotte County Squadron, presented Hicks with the prestigious award during a recent meeting. “We’re extremely proud of her,” said Lewis.

Six other cadets were recognized by advancement in grade at the recent cadet meeting.

Pictured from Left to Right: C/CMSgt Tyler Ezzi II, C/1stLt Samuel Greisiger, C/A1C Ian James Wilcox, C/SrAmn Chase Pedigo, C/LtCol Mikehla Hicks, C/SrAmn Autumn Rhodes, C/Amn Elizabeth Gregory. (CAP photo)

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