Oshkosh Reflections

"The Mission Comes First"

The things we remember most, The funny, Unusual & Interesting Experiences & Hardships. 

"What it is to be a Beret"

Please, submit your story's for this page.

 

When I first arrived to Beret I didn't know what to think, there were some cadets in Civies, some in BDUs.  In-processing took a while but I thought it would be a hard transition, it was pretty simple and easy going.  By the second day I got down the gist of things, and was pretty excited for when we'd get to direct planes and get in on the action.  So I made a bunch of friends in the mean time, before they became my brothers and sisters.  But on the second night I came over to my bunk and saw my friend "Queso" hugging another guy, I thought it was a joke so I asked if he needed a hug.  "Queso" told me that this cadet's best friend had died in a car accident that day and he just learned about it.  I did not know this cadet, I had never even seen him before, but I hugged him and whispered "it's okay, you're brothers in Alpha are here for you".  He hugged me tight and I hugged him equally as tight.  In that moment.  Before I could even read his name tape and see his name-he became my brother, my beret brother.  Before all events, before getting our Berets, our pins, flight night out, sitting with my flight and just shooting the breeze in personal time, to represent beret to me, that is it.  We didn't save anybody's life, or sacrifice our own, but several total strangers walked up to him after me and told him their flights were there for him.  Brotherhood.  That to me it a part of Beret that no part of CAP will ever come close to. 
Semper Gumby. 
-C/Tsgt John "Schwartzy" Novela, Alpha Flight 2009

"Puke Power 82"- refers to a slogan that a guy named Mark Schaumburg and I created and implemented on a small rise of earth behind our barracks. The cadre had woke us up about 12:30 AM on the first week of training - and in minute we where out in full gear running for about a mile and a half in the rain. We came in and got undressed and when to sleep. About 3:30 Mark wakes me up and says hey lets do something crazy.... I said ok (we where both tried and wet away). We came up with the slogan  "Puke Power 82" and took shaving cream and toilet paper and wrote it on a small rise of earth that was kind of in back where we fell in as an encampment. It was of funny and the whole squadron paid for it with many pushups but hey we where averaging about 500 per day by the end of the week before Oshkosh - but after all we where just pukes. Yes - at least back then we had a grading system = Puke, Puke 1st Class, Primate, Ape and Blue Beret. - Oh yes the good old days! - We had a great time our first year. It was hot tough but we made it. Also we had a Tornado and torrential rain that basically destroyed our Oshkosh encampment, as well as a run away plane - but those stories will be submitted latter. 

Blue Beret was a "mountain top" (Scout phrase) experience for us and myself especially it helped in my development and will always be treasured along with Hawk Mountain.

Thank you for listening.

Gregory P. Bachar C/Lt Col 1982, 1Lt (Ret.) 83, 84, Blue Beret II Senior Staff 1985 (AKA Lt Bad Guy--as Mark used to call me).


Hi Guys, My name is Russell Guyver - I was a Corporal with the Air Training Corp (358 (Welling) Squadron) and was in the group of UK ATC Cadets who joined the CAP (Blue Beret) cadets in Oshkosh in August 1986.

Although I know I was not a "Blue Beret" I see you have an ATC cadet from our sister Squadron in Bexleyheath, Kent  (359 Squadron) on your Alumni list so thought you might like to hear from me.

We had a great time in summer 1986, we were made to feel very welcome by the Blue Berets and thoroughly enjoyed the week we were in Oshkosh. I remember building great friendships with the Guys and the Girls !! and often feel it's a shame we never stayed in touch - mainly down to a few 1,000 miles of ocean between us !

We helped out at the Airshow and also on the Rescue Boat on the lake - of course we had already "toured" some of the Northern States before we got to Oshkosh staying in Boston, New York, Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee. After Oshkosh we stayed with some CAP cadets in Minneapolis before flying home. Overall a great time in the US of A.

If anyone wants to contact me they can e-mail me at rlguyver@yahoo.com, I'm now married with 3 kids and a dog (all girls !) we live in Bexley, Kent (South East England).  I did apply for the Royal Air Force but a history of Asthma meant I was unable to train to become a fighter pilot. I now work in the City of London as a Commercial Insurance Underwriter. 

Thanks guys, seeing your site, the names and the photos have brought back some great memories or the great Summer of 1986.

Best Regards

Russell Guyver


I came across your web page and wanted to say thanks for preserving the traditional values and vision of the Blue Beret.

I was a graduate of the class of 1989. I was very disappointed with what happened to our program after that year. I cherish my experiences there and wanted to continue on the traditions.

Just after getting back with my new proud beret and education, I experienced a horrific accident. On 9 September 1989, my squadron was on an actual ELT distress mission. At approximately 2230hrs, we pulled off the side of the road to take another reading with our L-Per on a dark winding road. A car came around the corner, ran off the road and struck one of our vehicles, causing a three car pile up. I was standing directly between our two vehicles. I was knocked unconscious and was pinned between the two cars, my right leg under the front bumper and pushed into the ground. I came to and could not get out. My right leg was at a 90' angle directly to the right, midshaft of my right tib-fib. My other four squadron members were injured, but able to dig me out and carry me away. There were three drunk teenagers in the car that struck us. My team members pulled them from their car and began caring for them, too.

In the middle of all that, I lost my beret. A couple of days later, my squadron commander, who was present at the accident, had returned to the scene and found my beret. He presented it to me in my hospital room with a few other members and friends. It was a little tattered and now had to have a new rank device on it. It looked worse than I did.

I spent a number of weeks in the hospital. I slowly graduated from bed-bound patient to wheelchair to crutches to cane, but got there. It was about 6 months before I walked with nothing more than a little limp. I never got my 5 minute mile back, but I was happy with sub 6 minutes a year and a half later. All throughout my recovery at the hospital, and once out, I kept my beret with me. It gave me a focus and resolve to get myself back together and carry on the mission.

I eventually left CAP but retuned years later as a senior. I wanted to see if other cadets were getting the same messages that I got, that one should honor where they came from, never forget the memories and traditions that made us, and push forward, making legends of our own.

After getting home, I was watching John Wayne's Green Berets. I wrote this to go along with the Green Beret song:

When planes come crashing from the sky,

They must be found, or some may die.

Who is there, to save the day?

The brave who wear, the Blue Beret.

 

Blue Beret, St. Alban's Crest,

No doubt these, are CAP'S best.

Searching through both night and day,

To save a life, and win the day.

Not bad for a 16 year old kid, full of pain meds. There may have been more, but this is all I remember.

Anyway, I again, just wanted to pass on my thanks for preserving the memories. Many of these ideals shaped me, helped me push on, and made me who I am today.

 

Some of my most memorable moments from Blue Beret 1989:

1. First Sgt Tresouthick cutting his finger of that big floor fan.

2. SR-71 fly by.

3. My flight commander, Heidi Spalt.

4. Gathering at the "Rock" for motivational PT.

5. "....and have a nice day, sir."

6. H Flight. All of them.

7. All of my fellow E Flight members.

8. 1st SGT Tresouthick removing the stitches himself (see #1 above).

9. Skylarking when the cadre were not looking.

10. Major Greenwood handing me my Blue Beret.

Feel free to post any of this to the web. I would like my name added to the Alumni list. On a personal note, weren't you a paramedic? Semper Vigilans,

 

James Sellers

Blue Beret Class of 1989

Former CAP Capt and SQDN CC

Pensacola Composite Squadron


I happened to search google and found this great web site for the Blue Beret  program.

Let me introduce myself- My name is Rick Nash - 

I've been a Blue Beret since the early days 1967 when then Lt Col Cass- started the program- I remember the weekend  training.. the trip to North Dakota and the many, many Blue Beret programs and events I attended first as a Cadet then as a Senior member.  

Blue Beret and CAP were great for me and I am very - VERY happy to see that the program continued through out the years.  While I've lost contact with Col Cass - (he'll always be that to me- even though I respect his BGen rank-- ) 

I've had my own family and soon to have my first grandchild.. I still consider myself a Blue Beret at heart- in fact in the winter I still wear that  Blue Beret that I got way back when-- I've told my kids and soon my grandchild the stories and the pride I've always felt about being a Blue Beret.

Rick Nash


Let me introduce myself - I'm Neil Johnstone and was a member of the British contingent of the Kent Wing Air Training Corps that was invited to take part in the CAP training camp at Volk Field and on completion the main event at Oshkosh. I have many happy memories from this experience and read with interest the resume of "Blue Beret". I was saddened to hear that this era had come to an end.

The training at Volk Field in particular stays in my mind - it was a very hot summer for us Brits, we were more used to our British cool/wet weather. I think we all found it hard but were encouraged and helped by our American colleagues - I can still taste the dust!!. If I dig deep enough in my attic I'm sure I still have the camp booklet that was produced. I look back sometimes and wonder what all the people I met are doing now. Unfortunately for me over the years I gradually lost touch with people but the memory of this experience still flickers in the background.

Life for me changed in 1986 - I joined the RAF and went on to complete 12 years service before eventually relocating to Dublin, Ireland for a career change. I have experienced much in life but if I were to state my favorite time I think it would be hard to top my time at Volk Field and Oshkosh!!

I was trying to search for photos and news items from Oshkosh in '85 but so far I have only found your page, can you send me any links? As I remember it was the first year Concorde ( herself now sadly retired ) made an appearance - I can remember taking part in a V-shaped guard of honor as the "sleek white bird" taxied in. Are there any archives of this event?

I look forward to hopefully hearing from you sometime soon....

with best regards,

Neil Johnstone

neil@johnstone45.fsnet.co.uk


I was with the Williston Composite Squadron of the North Dakota Wing.  Chaplain Raymond Aydt was our cadet leader and a true mentor.  The “eight ball patch” was dreamed up based upon the old plastic liquid filled balls with “answers”.  Putting the beret on top of it was only natural.  So we went downtown in Williston and had a drawing made up, which was the one that was presented to Col Cass.  He got a great kick out of it – but it rapidly caught on, and the rest is history.

I remember the “death march” from Dubuque to Bellevue .  CH Aydt was cruising the kitchen area at the bivouac site at Massey Station when he came upon 4 cans of chili pepper.  He assumed that no one had added the pepper to the chili that was to be the main course, so he added them in.  Turns out that those were 4 spare cans, with the cooks already having already put the necessary pepper in the meal.  So there we are, dog tired, no water, and eating carrots and crackers because the “Chaplain’s Chili” was way too hot for all but the toughest stomachs.

Your history page brings back lots of memories.

 THANKS!

 Lt Col Mike Vorachek


My name is Luis A. Divito (Tony) C/SGT


I attended Blue Beret 1985 as one of the first cadets from California. Since California Wing was very selective, I was picked by a panel of the California Wing's senior members on the premise that I was not authorized to wear the beret upon my return. I said okay went anyway..
 
I do not remember my flight number, but we had French Canadians and British along with other cadets from the 50 states.
I enjoyed my time at Volk Field and Oshkosh. Some of my assignments included manning SEACAP, Flight Line and Spanish Interpretation (If needed).

In reading what happened to the Blue Beret program afterwards, I am too saddened by its demise. Hopefully there were lessons learned from the experience that could benefit the current program. 

For the most part the problems stems from the fact that not all cadets received basic military training in the same way or degree. Each Wing had its own military "culture". For example, XXXXX Wing had a more Gung-ho "Rambo" attitude, while XXXXX Wing was focused on SAR operations. California Wing (My wing) was more by the book and followed the Air Force Academy example of not tolerating profanity or promoting push-ups as corporal punishment. 

Shortly after Blue Beret '85, I enlisted in the Navy as an Aviation Ordnanceman for 10 years. My prior CAP military training made my Naval Boot Camp experience much more pleasant. During my time in the Navy time I sailed to 20 countries, earned my Aircrew Wings and thankfully saw no military action. I got out used the GI Bill and earned a BA degree in International Relations. I still have my Beret sitting on the mantle and remember the good times.

Thanks, Tony


Thoughts...

Well, I had a "great" time my first year at Beret.  I was a C/Lt Col and said to myself, "self, how about going to Wisconsin and see what Blue Beret is".  See, when you reach any rank above Earhart, you talk to yourself.  So I flew to Chicago to connect to Wisconsin and met up with some New York Wing cadets, the Corrado's.  The first thing that jumped out at me was hey, they are in there blues and they look sharp.  I of course, just learning that I forgot you cannot wear fatigues on commercial flights, realized that I was in a world of doo do....

Luckliy of course I did not have the occasion to ruin my blues since the first thing that happened when we reached the Camp was, you guessed it, push ups...:).  Oh, did I forget that BGen Cass was at the airport waiting for us??  What a way to impress the National Commander huh?!?  More doo do.....

So, I got eaten up being a C/Lt Col.., but luckily I just survived plebe training at Valley Forge Military Academy/College so I was mentally and physically ready.  I was checked out in the comm shack, and had a knack for hearing ELT's in my sleep.  Slept in a pup tent in a roped in area near the flight line.  Not like the life of Reilly they have now...you know, toilets, showers, good food....  It was a very humbling experience which all Phase IV cadets should go through. 

But, I could not let one thing go.  There was this C/1Lt, a cadre member that did not care for me at all.  So, since I was graduated one day early so I could return to be Cadet Commander of our Wing Encampment, I decided to say a special good bye to this pr***.  We met near the chow tent and he immediate began to berate me for not saluting him.  Well, after about 3 minutes of nose-to-nose Billy Martin type screaming, Col Kumm got between us and placed us at ease.  After getting the Col Kumm ass chewing, this C/1Lt saluted me, we shook hands, and departed ways.  Please do not try this at home, officers are not supposed to act this way.

The next year after passing the Spaatz exam, I applied for Cadet Commander, and to my surprise, got the job.  What a blast!!  Cadets from all over the US, 38 states if memory serves.  We had British and Canadian cadets as well, very cool.  My favorite was the CAP Navy in Lake Winnebago.....what a hoot.

And of course the friends, the comrades, and hard work we did.  Beret was the best CAP activity I have ever had the pleasure to attend.  Meeting Pappy Boington, Chuck Yeager, Bob Hoover, and hundreds of aviation pioneers was something I will never forget.  I have the deepest respect and admiration for all of the seniors and cadets I worked with in Wisconsin.  I smile every time I read about or hear names from past CAP activities.  Being Cadet Commander in 1986 was my last activity as a cadet and I was honored to be in that position with so many bright and dedicated staff members.  We had some rocky times, but got through it with quite a few finds, crashes, and all around good show.

I hope to go back someday when my hectic schedule permits it.  May Gods blessings reach each and every one of you.  Keep the faith....


A very Proud Beret,

Kenneth Hawthorn, Lt Col, CAP
(25 years in CAP and still going.......)


Hi, my name is Cathy. I thought I would share a little story with you about my Blue Beret experience. I went to Blue Beret back in 1982.  Back then we went to Fort McCoy the first week for survival training, and the EAA Fly In at Oshkosh the second week for directing planes.  (Of course, back then, they were a lot tougher on us, but we stuck it out.)
The first week was pretty hard on us, but we made it....of course.  There were a couple of small incidents, like when one of the female cadets decided to sneak out of our barracks to run off with one of the male cadets (while on my CQ shift!!).  Needless to say, we all got to do 50 push-ups because of that girl. 
The second week was a little better, except for the heat.  We were made to drink cherry kool-aid with lots of salt in it, which made some of us gag pretty badly.  But, we did it.  The whole week was interesting as far as directing planes. I'm not sure when this happened during that week, but, there we were, standing in our spots directing these planes down to the next person.  When all of a sudden out of nowhere, comes this plane out of control!  He went all over the place and before I could register in my brain that this plane was wild, the pilot turned his wheels and knocked over an occupied Johnny On The Spot!!  What a mess that made.
I cherish my experience at Blue Beret.  When Col Cass handed me my beret and cross, I became a better, stronger person. And all I can say is:  I earned it, I respect it (still), and I am proud of it.  It made me part of who I am. And to this day, every August,  I pull it out, put it on, and do the "slide" down the side.         
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.
 

BLUE BERET ALL THE WAY!!!

 
Cathy (Rice) Springkamper
("puke-power" 82)

The things we remember most, The funny, Unusual & Interesting Experiences & Hardships. "What it is to be a Beret"

Hello.  This is not a "Blue Beret" story per se, but it's a good story (I think) about how Blue Beret can bring people together years after they spend time in Oshkosh.  Please let me know if you feel this is worth sharing.

I went through Blue Beret in '82, and returned in '83.  Not really much to tell that those of you who were part of the program at that time don't already know (sweat parties, trashed barracks, etc).  However, there was this one cadre who REALLY got under my skin named Lt Cameron Fry.  He was about 5' 6" and probably weighed 120lb soaking wet.  I'm about 6' 0" and was a solid 170lb, and it was really hard sucking it up from him day after day.  I mean he was REALLY obnoxious.  He was head and shoulders (pardon the pun) above the others when it came to purely stupid harassment.  Anyway, I got through Blue Beret, and put all that (Lt Fry included) behind me. 

Now let's jump ahead a couple of years.  I'm at Ft Benning, GA going through the Army's basic and infantry schools called OSUT (One Station Unit Training).  I'm giving all of my attention to trying to learn what they're teaching me and also to keep out of the wrath of our Drill Sergeants. Also, you have to know that our units were pretty insular.  You were best buds with guys in your own squad (element for you Air Force types).  You functioned on most levels at the platoon (flight) level. You rarely, if ever, talked to anyone outside your platoon, because you didn't have the time nor the energy for polite socialization.  However, from day one, there was this guy in another platoon who looked vaguely familiar.  I couldn't place him immediately, and since I was occupied by the Army turning me into a soldier, I didn't think about it much.

Graduation from OSUT came and went, and I go across Ft Benning to check into Airborne School.  When I went from living in an open platoon bay to a two-man room, I thought I died and went to heaven.  As I unpack and stow my gear, this little guy pokes his head in and says he must be my roommate.  I recognize him from one of the platoons in my OSUT company and say hi.  We chat for a bit, then I get a chance to notice his name-tape on his BDU's.  You guessed it, it said "FRY".  Suddenly it all came to me, and I start to laugh.

He asks me what's so funny, and I ask him if was a CAP cadet, and he replies with a "Yes".  I also ask him if he was a Blue Beret, and he responds this time with a very guarded "Yes".  When I tell him who I am and from where I know him, he just about died laughing.  For the three weeks of Airborne School, we were inseparable.  We even had our berets and other CAP stuff sent to us from home.   We walked around talking our own CAP/Blue Beret language.  I know everyone thought we were nuts.  Even guys I had just spent 13 weeks with across the post thought I had gone bonkers.  "Why makes this guy so special?"  "What is this whole 'Blue Beret' thing?" 

It just goes to show how strong the Blue Beret brotherhood can be.

Richard Rezac


By: Pete Turecek (Blue Beret '86 & '87)

For a quick anecdote from 1986:  "You Rang?"



Cadre always used to harass the hell out of us--generally in a good natured way with nicknames for all of us (from God-only-knows-where, the first sergeant came up with "Ricecake" for me--luckily, he was the only one to use it!).  One guy in our flight, Joe Silas, had the misfortune of being extremely tall and stood out like a sore thumb at formations.  The cadre took to calling him "Lurch" after the Adams family.  Every time they called him Lurch, he had to say "You rang?"

However, one of the missions of the cadre was to impart on us, and one of the key lessons we were to take home with us, was teamwork.  To that end, we talked amongst ourselves and came up with a plan to show our solidarity for our teammate.

That afternoon, (I think we were preparing to go out to flight line duty) one of our Squadron's cadre (I think it was Michael Eames, our Squadron CC?) yelled out "Lurch!"  Silas made his customary bellow of "You rang?"  But then the entire flight, without moving, all snapped our fingers twice, just like in the opening song of The Adams Family.

The look of shock on the cadre's face terrified us.  We didn't know if we had just committed candidate suicide.  The cadre scurried away, leaving us to start sweating profusely (which was never hard to do in Oshkosh in late July)!

Within thirty seconds, Eames was back, now with a cadet command staff member (Jason Corrado, 1st Sgt?)  We did it again.

Then they brought over the big guns--Adam Corrado and Ken Hawthorn (Ken was the Cadet Commander).  We did it again.

We had the entire cadet cadre rolling on the ground laughing so hard they had difficulty getting up.  I think they even made us do it at evening mess formation in front of everyone.

But we sure gained a lot of respect from the cadre after that--we had done exactly what they wanted by pulling together as a team.


 

THE GREAT GOD "ORTEM"

By Chris Yaroch


Like many other C.A.P. activities, Blue Beret has its fair share of little traditions, songs, and rituals that are passed down year after year. This humor is usually derived from enduring hardships in the military environment. One most notable for Blue Beret is the "Great God Ortem".

This Beret tradition was started in 1985, during noon chow, involving one of the most unlikely things... the porta-johns. After a long morning working the flightline, some cadet candidates gathered for chow and were swapping stories of the days events. The subject turned to the rather putrid porta-johns that were ever present at EAA Oshkosh. One creative cadet started saying "Ortem, Ortem...". This was fairly reminiscent of "Redrum" or murder backwards from a popular horror flick. You see, the porta-johns were owned by Metro, Inc. (see photo gallery), hence "Ortem". This slowly evolved into something big. Ortem wanted daily sacrifices from the candidates. He also accepted ponchos, flashlights, wallets, MasterCard’s... but not Visa. The sewer truck sucked a Visa card flat against the intake, stopping up the hose. Maybe Ortem's credit was maxed with Visa? But the legend grew. In 1987, Metro changed the name of the porta-johns to Portalet, thus creating the subgod "Telatrop". To this very day, candidates still make daily sacrifices to Telatrop.


PERSONAL THOUGHTS & REFLECTIONS

By Chris Yaroch


When this Webpage started, it served as a tribute to personal involvement and accomplishment. When we (the alumni) heard that CAP reinstated the  Blue Beret Program, we were elated!

This news rekindled something in us that has been dormant for over 10 years. We started feeling those old feelings again. Pride, camaraderie, and the intense passion we felt in the program. We weren't the only ones. Chris Yaroch contacted a former Beret in Oklahoma and imparted her with the good news. She had the exact same reaction we did. That really says something about the program... when after that many years, it still has that profound of an effect on a person.

We are now using this Webpage to reestablish our Beret heritage in the new members of our flock. It also grants the casual observer a chance to witness and understand what we experienced going through this encampment. There were things that we, as Berets, experienced that
added to the aura of "Blue Beret". Things like our initial training at Volk Field, WI. Being at Volk Field & being billeted in the old style Barracks bolstered the military atmosphere of the encampment and helped set the tone & flavor of the activity. Or living in the big G.I. tents at Oshkosh. This provided a rugged or bivouac air to the encampment. The gist of "roughin' it". The weather even was apart of it. Every time it rained, our camp would flood and become beautiful Lake Oshkosh. Even though it was one of many hardships we endured, it was still something that enriched us and served to make each individual stronger.

But above all, this website will... hopefully... set the record straight on who we really are, what we actually accomplished and where we're really going. Whether it was in the dirt doing push-ups, on the flightline in the sun for 8 hours or out past midnight on the endless ramp checks looking for overdue Aircraft, we wouldn't trade it for anything.


THE LAST CADRE

The sun sets slowly in the west,
the last time Oshkosh will hear the best.

We walked through the gates with all kinds of fears,
but now we walk slowly out the gates with tears.

This is the last year of Blue Beret.

I'm sad and mad and don't know what to say.

Yes, the sun sets slowly in the west;
A sinking feeling unsettled in my chest.

The last cadre are dying.

Sad, but true, we have entered these halls
for the last time with honor and pride.

The mission comes first.

We are the last cadre!

Composed by: C/1stSgt James Tresouthick (CAP/SSC '88, '89)

At the end of  Blue Beret '89.

This is Not an Official WebSite & does not reflect the views or opinions of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol or the National Blue Beret Program.

LINKS OR REFERENCES TO INDIVIDUALS OR COMPANIES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN ENDORSEMENT OF ANY INFORMATION, PRODUCT OR SERVICE YOU MAY RECEIVE FROM SUCH SOURCES.  PER CAPR 110-1.


If you have pictures, information, or graphics to add to this page, please e-mail them to me. Thanks, Lt Col Ted Lohr, Webmaster

Back to the Blue Beret Page

e-mail:

Lt Col Ted Lohr

SSgt Chris Yaroch

B.B.A.T.W.

Please note:

  • I don't have any info or contact with Nat. HQ about applications

  • I DO NOT have any information about the current program

  • Please DO NOT ask me any questions about the current NBB program

Copyright firearsn © 1997-2012.
Last revised: 29 December 2011.