Aircrews Keep a Vigilant Eye Open to Increase Boater Safety
Thursday, August 24, 2017
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Photo Caption:
CAP members keep an eye out for boaters in distress during harbor patrols in Charlotte County, Fla. (CAP photo)

By SM Donna Jablonski, CAP, Public Affairs Officer, Charlotte County Composite Sq.

For more than 75 years, Civil Air Patrol squadrons stationed along Florida’s Gulf Coast have been conducting safety patrols of coastal waterways. The aircrews are well-trained in search techniques and keep a watchful eye on the waters below providing boaters an extra margin of safety.

CAP officers from the Charlotte County Composite Squadron had the opportunity speak with radio hosts, Captain Tom Healey and his wife Heidi, about CAP’s role in boater safety in Charlotte Harbor and the Intercostal waterway. Maj. Earle Bretz, Public Affairs Officer, joined the hosts of WENG’s Saturday morning boating show on August 19th to explain the long history of local volunteer aviators serving the local boating community.

“Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, dates back to WWII days and was originally formed to provide civilian air support to aid the war effort through border and coastal patrols, military training assistance, courier services and other activities,” said Maj. Bretz. Civil Air Patrol officially began Dec. 1 1941 and we are now celebrating our 76th year. Our connection to boaters and marine safety continues.”

Major Bretz went on to described CAP’s partnership with other agencies, the importance of the weekly harbor patrols and how most boaters are accustomed to the marine advisory broadcast that CAP aircrews provide using the Coast Guard Channel 16.

Joining the broadcast was a member of the squadron’s communications team, Captain Kevin Kelly. “Radio communications are critical to CAP search and rescue missions as well as the importance of marine communications with the Coast Guard.” Kelly explained that Civil Air Patrol maintains a robust nation-wide radio communications network and provided an overview of the various types of communication equipment and methods used.

As usual, Maj. Bretz took advantage of the opportunity to highlight the cadet program. Bretz is a longtime champion for the youth program as key to fostering CAP core values of respect, integrity, excellence and volunteer service. True to form, he steered the conversation during the radio show to explain how the CAP program is designed to develop leadership and good citizenship in America's youth, using aerospace education, Air Force role models and emphasis on public service.

Color Guard team from Charlotte County squadron presents colors at local airshow. (CAP photo)

Article Information
Reviewed by: Lt. Col. Jeff P. Carlson
Syndicated to: Region Hq, Florida Wing, Group 5
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Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit for more information.
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