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SDWG Builds Proficiency at Custer SAREX

August 16, 2022

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Sioux Falls, SD - Close to 30 CAP members from around the state gathered in Custer, August 12-13 to train on air and ground search and rescue skills. The training was based at the Custer County Airport.

"Our air, ground, and drone teams worked a series of tasks that replicated likely real-world missions,” said Capt. Matt Tennant, CAP incident commander for the exercise. “They included pinpointing the exact location of a 406 MHz distress beacon, a missing person search, and using drones for 3-D mapping.”

Civil Air Patrol performs search, disaster relief and other missions in its role as the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, part of the Air Force Total Force. CAP is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically when tasked in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.

"We appreciate Crazy Horse Composite Squadron and the Custer County Airport hosting this exercise in Custer," said Col. Michael Marek, CAP’s South Dakota Wing commander. "The Black Hills terrain and the challenges of in and out of Custer’s mile-high airport makes for good training." 

Col. Craig Goodrich, the project officer for the exercise and also the SD vice wing commander, coordinated with the Salvation Army of Rapid City to serve lunch to the aircrews, ground teams and mission staff working at the SAREX. 

“Working with the team from the Salvation Army was a real pleasure,” Goodrich said. “They drove a food truck down to the Custer Airport and served us a wonderful meal. Thank you, Salvation Army, for the great food!”

Picture: CAP's drone photo mapping allows creation of 3-D images that on a computer can be rotated and zoomed for inspection.

CAP has close to 400 members in South Dakota with units in Brookings, Custer, Miller, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Tea. The wing can deploy its six aircraft, ground teams and small search drones to assist in emergency response and other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies.

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