Airman passes on knowledge to Civil Air Patrol cadets

By Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry, 18th Wing Public Affairs / Published July 04, 2015


KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

As a first lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol on Kadena Air Base, Chance Sheek is an emergency services training officer, communications officer, and he oversees all of the cadet training. But during the weekday, he is a senior airman assigned to the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron working as a vehicle operations vehicle operator.

Chance first became interested in the Civil Air Patrol when he was 15 years old with hopes to one day learn how to fly a plane. Shortly after joining, he set out on a ground search and rescue mission and his interest in flying quickly changed.

"The Civil Air Patrol's ground emergency team conducts over 85 percent of all search and rescue missions in the continental U.S.," said Todd Mclain, the Kadena Civil Air Patrol leader. "Those missions include things like downed aircraft and lost hikers, but they also have a hand in disaster relief and support missions as well as homeland security with the border control."

Sheek stayed an active member of CAP up until he learned that a few friends in his flight were going to an Air Force Pararescue Orientation Course. It peaked Sheek's interest and after investigating, he decided he wanted to become an Air Force pararescueman. Within one month Sheek had spoken with a recruiter, taken all necessary tests for special operations, and signed his enlistment contract.

A couple of months later, after graduating high school, Sheek graduated basic military training and went on to begin his pararescueman training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

After pushing his mind and body through four of the most intense weeks of his life, Sheek had self-eliminated.

"If you want to know a terrible feeling, look at your team and tell them you quit," Sheek said. "Even though they are sucking it up, you look at them and you're just like, 'I am done, I can't handle anymore.'"

After self-eliminating, Sheek became a student waiting retraining, but he didn't take this time off. While awaiting his reclassification, Sheek became a black rope for a drill team and went on to lead the team in competition as well.

After receiving his reclassification instructions, Sheek went on to his next technical training for vehicle operations at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. While there, he again stepped up to another leadership position and became a yellow rope, earning two letters of acknowledgement.

"I just had to realize that I wasn't the first to fail training for pararescue and I will not be the last," Sheek said. "It's the moments after that I feel are the most important. I gave up once and it was a wake-up call."

Upon completion of his technical training, Sheek went on to his first duty station at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Shortly after arriving, he rejoined the CAP. As an active-duty service member, Sheek was immediately promoted into the adult officer ranks.

As an officer in the CAP, it was Sheek's responsibility to guide the cadets. He is able to take from his past experience and life lessons to better teach them.

While stationed at Altus, Sheek found a way to use the skills and ambition he learned from pararescue and used that passion to receive his emergency ground team leader certification. As part of his certification, Sheek had to perform multiple search and rescue tactics and basic first aid, such as wound dressing and splints.

"I chose emergency services because it was fun," Sheek said. "In a small unit, carrying some gear with a few other volunteers and at such a young age, I could help save a life. I don't think there is a better feeling."

Just a short year later, Sheek received orders to Kadena Air Base, Japan, as a vehicle operator. After arriving, he quickly discovered there was an overseas CAP unit and joined as soon as he could.

Sheek uses those skills from pararescue training to lead cadets through search and rescue exercises and teaches the cadets skills like using compasses, land navigation, radio usage and basic medical skills.

Since joining the the CAP unit at Kadena AB, Sheek earned a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his work with the CAP and as a lifeguard at a local pool.

"I believe a part of why he is doing so well in the Air Force (are) the skills and lessons he learned as a CAP cadet," Mclain said. "He is a very good leader, loves to get involved and hands-on, and he has a wealth of knowledge. It's what makes him a hard worker."

Sheek said his time in the CAP program is nowhere near its end; it has been a lifelong passion for him and he plans on continuing to give back to the program that has helped him out so much through his life and career as an Airman.

"It's really great getting to pass on your knowledge," Sheek said. "You pass on that experience and you get to see a young quiet cadet who was too shy to even speak at first, start testing for rank, passing physical training tests, and taking (the) lead on programs, it's extremely rewarding."