16:38 PM

Conn. Wing ELT Exercise Yields History Find

A Connecticut Wing emergency locator transmitter search exercise conducted as part of the wing’s recent biannual U.S. Air Force evaluation wound up leading to a trove of Civil Air Patrol history

In preparation for the exercise and to find a good location for a simulated downed glider search, Matthew Hunter, the lead CAP-USAF evaluator, reached out to a small airport in Woodstock. As it turned out, Woodstock Airport’s former owner, Rudy Tomasik, was a longtime CAP member who kept a good deal of memorabilia from his days of service – uniforms, documents, patches and various devices. Tomasik had passed away in 2013, and his family decided to donate the historical items to CAP.

Col. James Ridley, Connecticut Wing commander, dispatched 1st Lt. Brian Waldon, wing historian, and a team from the Danbury Composite Squadron to collect the items.

Tomasik grew up in Massachusetts and joined CAP in the early 1940s in Virginia. During World War II he served in Patton’s 3rd Army and took part in the Battle of the Bulge. For his service as an intelligence and reconnaissance scout, he was awarded two Silver Stars and one Bronze Star. He also helped liberate the Nazis’ Buchenwald concentration camp.

Soon after the end of the war Tomasik bought Woodstock Airport, rejoined CAP and served as an active member for many years.

"We were glad CAP chose Woodstock for their simulated downed aircraft /downed pilot scenario," said Ed Baker, operator of the airport. "It gave us an opportunity to share Rudy's history and massive collection of artifacts to such an appreciative group.”

For Ridley, "The day was a great way to train CAP members while honoring our past. We had two groups of cadets and senior members who were tasked separately for the day, and they met up with a wonderful purpose: to continue training for our mission and to also honor our past and those who came before us.”

Given Tomasik’s documented service in CAP during World War II, Ridley obtained approval to honor him with a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal presented to the organization in December 2014 for its volunteer wartime service.