15:18 PM

Smith, National Commander, 'Very Impressed' During Hawk Mountain Visit

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, Civil Air Patrol's national commander, liked what he saw when he paid a visit Wednesday to Hawk Mountain Ranger School, the only ranger school in the U.S. offered to both adults and cadets.

"I am very impressed with the staff at Hawk Mountain Ranger School and the training that is being conducted,” Smith said. “The school has a great staff, and I've enjoyed being able to visit the mountain."

Hawk Mountain Ranger School has been conducting training for over 62 years. CAP members from across the nation gather each year in Kempton, Pennsylvania, for nine days of rigorous activity.

They learn medical skills, survival skills, search and rescue techniques, disaster relief skills, land navigation, leadership and teamwork. Aircrew survival is emphasized.

"The school is going very well. I appreciate the support and advocacy from National Headquarters for our program," said Lt. Col. Brian Cuce, commander for the course as well as director of emergency services for the Pennsylvania Wing.

During the event Cadet Col. Brandon Webber, the school's cadet commander and a member of the Pennsylvania Wing’s Northeast Philadelphia Composite Squadron 104, assisted in an Expert Ranger ceremony for Cadet Lt. Col. Jonah Torp-Pedersen of the Tennessee Wing’s Murfreesboro Composite Squadron. The ceremony consisted of removing the traditional white belt and replacing it with a black belt.

Torp-Pederson, deputy cadet commander for the ranger school this year, is only the 272nd black belt Expert Ranger in the school’s 62 years. He’s one of only two cadet Expert Rangers in CAP right now.