12:57 PM

Fla. Wing Searchers Find Elderly Man with Alzheimer's

Capt. Sybrian L. Castleman
Public Affairs Officer
Florida Wing

Searchers from Civil Air Patrol’s Florida Wing found an 82-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease on Sunday, nine days after he went missing in Pembroke Pines.

According to local reports, a neighbor reported Roberto Perez missing on Feb. 10, but Pembroke Pines police were unable to locate him despite ground and air searches. At the request of police and Perez’s family, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base activated CAP just after 10 a.m. Feb. 18 to assist in the search.

Heavy brush impaired the view of 1st Lts. Cesar Hernandez, mission pilot, and Edson Franca, mission observer, as they looked for Perez from the air. They surveyed the area to determine where to send ground teams to search.

A Boca Raton Composite Squadron ground team was dispatched to an isolated area dense with brush, where they found the elderly man within the Century Village property. Cadet Airman Chief Master Sgt. Michael Romega of the Boca Raton Composite Squadron spotted him at 4:45 p.m.

Perez was taken to a hospital for treatment and reported to be in critical condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.

"I am glad we were able to find him in time,” Romega said. “This is what we train for."

The cadet's father, Vasile Romega, said his son was doing homework in his room when the call for the mission arrived. The youth came out of his room in full uniform with his search gear and told him, "I've been called to help find a missing man. I've got to go," his father said.

"Our volunteers train diligently to be of service in our communities,” said Lt. Col. Bruce Smith, incident commander for the mission and Florida Wing search and rescue officer. “It is rewarding for our volunteers and the Pembroke Pines Police Department to have a positive outcome for our search efforts."

In all, 19 Florida Wing members participated in the search mission. The other members of the search team that found Perez are Lt. Col. Steven Stimpson, Capt. Douglas Martin and 2nd Lt. Mitchell Kutun.

Along with the Boca Raton unit, the search involved Southeast Region and Florida Wing Headquarters, Florida Wing Group 6 and the Fort Lauderdale, North Perry and Pines-Miramar composite squadrons.