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West Virginia Wing

SAR tops West Virginia CAP accomplishments

The West Virginia Wing’s record of rescues includes a February 2010 mission when a U.S. Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter flying from Fort Pickett to Camp Dawson crashed into an icy, wooded mountainside. CAP members traveled many miles in a snowstorm to help rescue all 17 aboard; three wing members received the Bronze Medal of Valor and one received CAP’s Meritorious Service Award.

The wing provided heroic help in January 1952 when a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber, carrying two 24-megaton hydrogen bombs, crashed in heavy snow on a remote site in Maryland. The wing a;sp assisted during the 1957 floods, the Buffalo Creek flood disaster Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and four major hurricanes in 2004.

The wing also located stranded victims, searched for missing aircraft, ferried emergency officials, provided visual reconnaissance, transported supplies, manned emergency operations centers and shelters and provided radio communications as needed. After 9/11, members provided manning and communications support to state EOCs. During October 1952 forest wildfires, pilots helped spot new fires, and ground personnel worked around the clock relaying on-the-spot reports and assistance requests.

Several cadets met President Barrack Obama when Cadet Col. David F. Hill IV received the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – CAP’s highest cadet achievement – in Washington, D.C., in January 2009. In July 2013, pilots conducted reconnaissance during a 10-day National Boy Scout Jamboree with over 50,000 attendees; members assisted with command and control, traffic and crowds.

Brig. Gen. Charles Carr (left), CAP’s national vice commander, and Col. Dennis Barron, West Virginia Wing commander (right), honor (from left) Capt. Thomas Plass, Beckley Composite Squadron deputy commander for seniors and emergency services officer; Brig. Gen. Eric Vollmecke, West Virginia Air National Guard chief of staff; Capt, Joseph Ingram, Beckley Composite Squadron communications officer; and Capt. Stephen Antolini, Mercer County Composite Squadron commander, for their roles in the rescue of 17 crew members and passengers aboard a U.S. Navy helicopter that crashed into an icy mountainside in 2010. Photo by Capt. Russell Voelker, West Virginia Wing
Brig. Gen. Charles Carr (left), CAP’s national vice commander, and Col. Dennis Barron, West Virginia Wing commander (right), honor (from left) Capt. Thomas Plass, Beckley Composite Squadron deputy commander for seniors and emergency services officer; Brig. Gen. Eric Vollmecke, West Virginia Air National Guard chief of staff; Capt, Joseph Ingram, Beckley Composite Squadron communications officer; and Capt. Stephen Antolini, Mercer County Composite Squadron commander, for their roles in the rescue of 17 crew members and passengers aboard a U.S. Navy helicopter that crashed into an icy mountainside in 2010. Photo by Capt. Russell Voelker, West Virginia Wing
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