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Vermont Civil Air Patrol cadets fly the Hercules

RUTLAND-For a group of senior and cadet members of the Rutland Composite Squadron of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol's Vermont Wing, it was the thrill of a lifetime.

Last week, members of the all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary - based at the Rutland Airport with members from Rutland, Addison and Windsor counties - climbed aboard a giant silver-tail LC-130 Hercules aircraft at Stratton Air Base in Schenectady, N.Y., for a unique training mission.

Vermont CAPmembers joined the USAF's 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard for an aero-medical training mission that ranged from Albany to the Canadian border, and back, high above Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

According to the Air Force, its Civil Air Patrol auxiliary performs three Congressionally assigned missions: emergency services (search and rescue by air and ground) and disaster relief operations, aerospace education for youth and the public, and cadet programs for teenage youth. In addition, CAP has recently been tasked with homeland security and courier missions. Before being accepted as CAPmembers, all volunteers are fingerprinted and go through a complete background check by the FBI.

Vermont CAP members joined fellow volunteers from the Vetter Composite Squadron of Albany, N.Y., for the two-hour-long training mission April 19. The mission included an overview and training presentation by USAF officers at the air base.

"It was awesome. I got to play an injured person on board the aircraft," said Ethan Kidder, a teen cadet from Benson. "I was on a gurney in the rear the plane. The medics hovered all around me; they practiced what it would be like to evac people injured during a disaster."

The training exercise was designed to help sharpen the life-saving skills of the 109th's aero-medical team.

Another Vermont cadet, Joshua Burke, played ersatz patient number 2 during the training exercise. "Iwas very comfortable the whole time," Burke said. "They practiced a coordinated response to multiple injuries as if it was a real evacuation crisis."

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