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Civil Air Patrol cadets get a taste of the PJ career field

Staff Sgt. Richard Dunn, pararescueman with the 306th Rescue Squadron provided instruction on proper repelling techniques to Civil Air Patrol Cadets at the Pima County Rescue Training Center as part of the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse, a 10 day course that introduces CAP cadets to the operational PJ career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Staff Sgt. Richard Dunn, pararescueman with the 306th Rescue Squadron provided instruction on proper repelling techniques to Civil Air Patrol Cadets at the Pima County Rescue Training Center as part of the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse, a 10 day course that introduces CAP cadets to the operational PJ career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Civil Air Patrol Cadets tie knots during one of their skills stations during the Monster Mash, which was the final event of the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse, June 13-23. The event tested their ability to recall everything they learned during the 10 day course that introduced the CAP cadets to the operational PJ career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Civil Air Patrol Cadets tie knots during one of their skills stations during the Monster Mash, which was the final event of the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse, June 13-23. The event tested their ability to recall everything they learned during the 10 day course that introduced the CAP cadets to the operational PJ career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Staff Sgt. Richard Dunn, pararescueman with the 306th Rescue Squadron provided instruction to Civil Air Patrol Cadets during one of their skills stations during the Monster Mash, which was the final event of the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse, June 13-23. The event tested their ability to recall everything they learned during the 10 day course that introduced the CAP cadets to the operational PJ career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Staff Sgt. Richard Dunn, pararescueman with the 306th Rescue Squadron provided instruction to Civil Air Patrol Cadets during one of their skills stations during the Monster Mash, which was the final event of the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse, June 13-23. The event tested their ability to recall everything they learned during the 10 day course that introduced the CAP cadets to the operational PJ career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Civil Air Patrol Cadets march past Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse instructors during the retirement ceremony of William Hart Pitsenbarger a pararescueman who gave his life aiding and defending a unit of soldiers pinned down by an enemy assault in Vietnam, and Jason D. Cunningham a pararscueman killed in action while taking part in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. The cadet carried stokes litters with 200 pound training dummies that both symbolically represented both Pitsenbarger and Cunningham in a ceremony that concluded the 10 day APJOC. The cadets used these training dummies throughout the entire course for training purposes. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

Civil Air Patrol Cadets march past Advanced Pararescue Orientation Couse instructors during the retirement ceremony of William Hart Pitsenbarger a pararescueman who gave his life aiding and defending a unit of soldiers pinned down by an enemy assault in Vietnam, and Jason D. Cunningham a pararscueman killed in action while taking part in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. The cadet carried stokes litters with 200 pound training dummies that both symbolically represented both Pitsenbarger and Cunningham in a ceremony that concluded the 10 day APJOC. The cadets used these training dummies throughout the entire course for training purposes. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Luke Johnson)

DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 306th Rescue Squadron hosted more than 20 Civil Air Patrol cadets as they experienced a small portion of the demanding training required to become a part of the Air Force Guardian Angel career field during the Advanced Pararescue Orientation Course, June 13-23.

APJOC was a 10-day challenge which tested the cadets both mentally and physically as they were constantly evaluated on the stringent requirements of the PJ, combat rescue officer and survival, evasion, resistance, escape career fields.

"The physical training standards are very high, we base a lot of our PT standards on Air Force Special Forces PT standards," said CAP Capt. Nick N. Carvan, APJOC assistant course director. "They have early mornings and late nights, very high academic, physical standards, all day every day. We don't ask them to do a good job; we demand they exceed the standards every time."

Prior to the cadets being accepted into APJOC, they've got to pass a one-week PJ orientation course at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., where they learn the basics of what it takes to succeed in the Air Force Special Operations career field. APJOC introduces the cadets to the day to day operations of a PJ, both of these courses are highly physically and mentally demanding.

The APJOC curriculum introduced the student to PJ/special tactics team operations, technical rescues, medical training, team building, and physical conditioning through class lecture and hands on training in the field.

"(The cadets) must have a never quit attitude, strong mental fortitude," said Carvan. "They must learn to push themselves far beyond their perceived limits. We force them to learn that you can exceed those limits, and push through farther than they ever thought they could."

For Staff Sgt. Richard Dunn, pararescueman with the 306th RQS, seeing the cadets grow both mentally and physical is what makes teaching the demanding 10 day course very rewarding.

"I do see in the kids, very disorganization, when they first come here, get past their mistakes and bounce back," said Dunn. "The looks on their faces, the happiness and joy of being able to accomplish whatever is put in front of them, the little smiles and pats on the back is what makes it worthwhile for me."

Dunn emphasized any young adult within the Civil Air Patrol, with the right attitude, can complete this demanding course and push themselves far beyond their expectations.

"Someone that is willing to get off the couch and set down the videogame controller, also someone who is willing to go out and achieve something for themselves, push that extra mile, pretty much anyone can do this, they just have to take the first step," said Dunn.

CAP cadet Chief Master Sgt. Brent Sacks who has aspirations of being a Navy SEAL said the APJOC course has given him insight into what it takes to make it through the rigors of SEAL training.

"Anybody will tell you it's all mental, anyone can train physically for this course, those who don't prepare mentally will wash out of the course," Sacks said "This course has given me a lot more confidence and being able to deal with the rigors of the demanding Special Ops career field training."

Dunn feels that this course prepares young future leaders, regardless of what career field they take on and any difficult challenges they may face.

"This is a valuable course that is going to change these kid's lives; it teaches them how to be leaders by learning how to follow first, then learning to lead, staying organized and keeping motivated."

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