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Ranger Training Weekend held at Morrow Mountain State Park

RTW group photo
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The 2016 NC Ranger School. Photo credit: C/Lt Col Kyra Willis, CAP, PAO, Fayetteville Composite Squadron (click image to view full size)
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Cadets and senior members advance their Ranger training

11/18/2016––The 2016 North Carolina Wing Fall Ranger Training Weekend (RTW) was held at Morrow Mountain State Park on 28-30 Oct. With over 151 members in attendance from several states, the 7th annual Fall RTW was a huge success! At the conclusion of the weekend, Maj Dennis Bissell, RTW Incident Commander had this to say, “RTW happened because of the hard work by a lot of people. The mission was accomplished very successfully and our goals met. Well done all!”

This theme was reiterated by Maj Brendan Kearns, “RTW was outstanding! Attendees came from NC, PA, FL, TN, DE, MD, MER and SER. RTW is one of the most popular CAP events held and everyone who attends can see why.”

So what exactly goes on that inspires cadets and senior members to travel such great distances to attend RTW? Bravo, Charlie and Delta Squadrons learned the basics, such as what to do if lost, identifying natural hazards, as well as participating in a liter carry. Alpha Squadron worked on more advanced skills. Cadets and senior members built shelters, learned mapping skills, completed a five mile hike, and built their own personal fires with just two matches, a knife, and wood they collected. Echo Squadron was reserved for those who have attended several Ranger Training Weekends in the past and were working on Ranger First Class and higher. At this point in training, there is a shift from just participating, to actually planning and organizing activities such as search operations. Ground team members learn to collaborate with air crews and even canine teams. Of course the skills mentioned here don’t even begin to cover the full scope of training that takes place at RTW. 
As outstanding as the training is, there are those who would argue that people come for the food! Lt Col Langley, head chef, begins preparing for RTWs several weeks in advance in order to gather all the necessary ingredients. He and his kitchen staff work tirelessly throughout the weekend, rising early and going to bed late in order to bring hot meals and goodies to all the staff and students. In the words of Lt Col Jay Langley, “RTW is a team sport. Everyone pitches in and helps out when needed. We have some amazing cadets and senior members who go above and beyond to make this weekend happen.” 
If you have never been to an RTW, challenge yourself to make that happen. In the words of Lt Col Jonathan Wiggs, RTW Commander, "Cadets think they are learning search and rescue, but they are  really learning leadership and having fun doing it. Some may never get to apply the search and rescue skills they learn here, but they will leave with leadership skills they will use for a lifetime."  
And isn’t that what Civil Air Patrol is all about? CAP’s mission statement is as follows: “Supporting America's communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space and cyber power.”
Support for the Ranger program is support for CAP’s mission. These young men and women learn the skills necessary to respond to an emergency, whether it be to render first aid to an individual in need that happens across their path, or to the community as a whole during a crisis. Being able to provide ground team services has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with training and heart.  And CAP cadets have both of these in spades. C/2d Lt Sean Schwartz, Echo Squadron XO, describes his role as a cadet mentor and instructor, “We’re trying to lead and educate the next generation of CAP rangers, while advancing in the program ourselves.” 
At events such as RTW, Civil Air Patrol has the opportunity to bring it’s mission to life - as young people move one step closer to becoming tomorrow’s leaders of their community, state and nation.