Visit to High Dessert REACT/Voyager Comp SQ 120m during SCRC Meeting
Canoga Park, CA
It’s 6:30 AM on Sunday, July 13. I kissed my wife and daughter good-bye and jumped in the van. My next stop, El Monte, to pick up several SVGA members on my way to what was my first RUG and SCRC meeting. By 7:30 I was already at Frank’s place. Omar was also waiting for me and Paola joined us soon after. I loaded Frank’s stuff in the van and off we went. While Omar and Paola where talking about movies and actors, Frank and I were talking about old times, how complicated life is now, etc. Time flew rapidly. We heard some radio chatter every once in a while and the trip went without incident.
At 9:30AM we finally arrived at Victorville and the Voyager Comp SQ 120, one of California’s Civil Air Patrol Wing Units and also home of the High DesertREACT Team. Our host team had already taken care of the breakfast part, and donuts and coffee were waiting in abundance. Boy, did we need them.
Being a foreigner, I really had no idea on what the CAP was (indeed, that was the first time I actually heard about them) and was totally blown away by the concept, and even more with the idea of “combining” REACT and CAP. “Way to go Capt. Joseph C. Toth!” With some distance and difference, CAP and REACT basic ideas are very related and makes sense to “help each other”.
As the captain explained us, the Civil Air Patrol mission is to help the U. S. Air Force during times of disaster, doing emergency communications, search and rescue missions, and helping during all kind of events. So far, pretty much like REACT. Now, the difference comes in that CAP is mandated by the U. S. Congress and is fully supported by the Air Force. That means PLANES. Yes, they have planes and yes, they can fly on them. They get called into duty anytime a plane goes down, a boat is lost… or even to do transplant organ delivery.
Being a volunteer organization means that operating costs are very low, so they get called for over 80% of all rescue missions. Cadet programs where kids 12 and up can join and receive Air Force-related education are available at some units and senior programs for those of us already over 18. Membership benefits include all kinds of training (radio operations, emergency service, aviation related). High Dessert REACT can provide extra radio communicators to the SQ 120 Voyager wing in cases of shortage, provided that there is at least one CAP radio operator supervising the station. Mobile repeaters are also used to support communication in remote areas when needed.
As the captain suggested, I visited the CAP web site and found that a huge amount of information is available to the public. You can find the California Wing athttp://cawg.cap.gov, then look on the left side for California Units to find the one nearest to you. I was surprised to find one unit at the Van Nuys Airport. That’s a couple of miles from my home but there are many more units, like in Torrance, Burbank, El Monte, and Corona. I think the amount of knowledge and training we could get by cooperating with those units is invaluable.
First we attended the RUG meeting in the morning and after a lunch break, where our hosts again shined, the SCRC meeting was held at the same location. Both meetings were full of useful information and lots of ideas and show that union and cooperation between all REACTunits is the way to go. So much information that it will need a separate article. Not all was working, there where 2 50/50 raffles too.
Once the meetings ended, people began chatting and commenting. Our host were there once again to answer any questions related to their job. All under a great ambiance. Finally, people began making their way home. I think Frank, Omar, Paola and I were among the last to leave. We made a wrong turn and got “distracted from the correct course”, nothing that a couple of radio calls couldn’t fix. (Lucky thing or the header of this article could have been “REACT unit lost in desert is rescued by CAP“).
Once we finally made it to the 215 freeway, we relaxed and just enjoyed the scenery on the way back home. Lots of talkin’ on what we heard during the day, lots of ideas… Isn’t it just great when you travel with people that likes what you like? Time just flies! We stopped in El Monte to drop off my friends and help Frank with some auto electrical problems and then I started the last leg of the trip – going back home. I got to Canoga Park near 7 p.m. I had been out for 11 hours (that many? Really? Oh, well…so much fun, so little time.)
So now I am just waiting for the next meeting that will be hosted by Saddelback REACT in Orange County.
Once again, many thanks to Capt. Joseph C. Toth for being such and excellent host.
See you next time!
Juan S. Fernandez CREST 87