Harrisburg recruiters instill ‘AIRBORNE!’ to Civil Air Patrol cadets
By Christine June
MIDDLETOWN, PA—Recruiters Staff Sgt. Joseph Tremblay and Staff Sgt. Daniel Gordon taught an airborne class June 29 for 15 cadets from the Civil Air Patrol Harrisburg International Composite Squadron 306 at the 193rd Special Operations Wing Pennsylvania Air National Guard Base.
“It was by far one of the best things I have done in CAP so far,” said Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Dempsey, 17, who has been involved with the all-volunteer organization, which serves as a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, for about five years.
Both recruiters are Airborne Soldiers currently assigned to the Harrisburg Opportunity Center.
Before his assignment to recruiting duty, Tremblay was an instructor at the three-week Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, Ga.
“I think the training was outstanding, most particularly all the hands-on experience the cadets got with the equipment,” said Senior Member Jim Lichlyter, the CAP Squadron 306 aerospace assistant education officer. “It was very good tactical-type training as they were being told exactly what to do as they were able to do it.”
As he had done with Future Soldiers in April, Tremblay combined and condensed the school’s first week – known as Ground Week – into a two-hour, hands-on training session. The cadets had to use their imagination instead of having a mock door of a C-130 or C-17 aircraft that is used at the Army Airborne School.
“You are going to be learning how to wear the equipment and land without injuring yourself,” Tremblay explained to the cadets.
Dempsey, who will be a senior next year at Elizabethtown Area High School, has been dead-set for the past year on joining the Air Force in the pararescue program. Finding this out at the beginning of the training, Tremblay selected Dempsey as the only cadet to don the full parachute gear as an example for the class.
“(This airborne training) opened my eyes to what it would be like to be a pararescue and what the gear would feel like,” said Dempsey, who admitted that before this training he knew that the Army had an airborne program, but he thought it was only for those in Special Forces.
During the training, Dempsey and his fellow cadets learned that the Army Airborne School is the only one in the United States and is open to troops of both genders from all branches of the Department of Defense, as well as allied military personnel.
Working together in teams of two, each cadet was able to don a parachute harness as Tremblay gave instructions on and Gordon double-checked the straps’ adjustment. They would keep these harnesses on throughout the basic airborne class that touched on the five points of performance: Proper Exit, Check body Position, and Count; Check Canopy and Gain Canopy Control; Keep a Sharp Lookout during Your Entire Descent; Prepare to Land; and, Land.
“I was blown away by the training, and it was great participation by the Civil Air Patrol cadets,” said Capt. Ryan Greenawalt, the commander of the Harrisburg Recruiting Company who oversees the Army recruiting missions of the Harrisburg, Lancaster and Reading Opportunity Centers. “I understand that most of their training is Air Force aviation focused, but like Sergeant Tremblay said, this training gives the cadets a little bit of exposure to the Army and that we do have Airborne and all kinds of different options.”
Because of this training, Dempsey said that he is going to take a longer look at the requirements and qualifications for 68W – Army Combat Medic, as well as airborne, before making a final decision.