By STEVEN NALLEY
The Civil Air Patrol’s Mississippi Wing recognized the Golden Triangle Composite Squadron as the best of 12 squadrons in the state at its annual conference Feb. 3-5.
The Mississippi Wing also recognized Trey Breckenridge, a major in the squadron, as Officer of the Year. Lt. Col. Mike Hainsey, executive director of Golden Triangle Regional Airport, also won Safety Officer of the Year.
A press release issued by Greater Starkville Development Partnership President and GTCS Commander Jon Maynard said Breckenridge served as leader of the squadron alongside Deputy Commander Roger Smith for the first 10 months of 2011, ensuring the squad trained diligently for its missions.
“Some of the efforts that earned the squadron its award were its work with Columbus Air Force Base, its response to the disastrous tornadoes that hit the region in April, the rapid response to an airplane crash in Hinds County in August, and the assistance given in support of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” the release said.
The release said a standout performance which helped earn Hainsey his award was GTRA’s success in a disaster exercise which coordinated 26 agencies from throughout the state, including the Civil Air Patrol.
“Lt. Col. Hainsey ensured that CAP was ready and able to launch a crew that was capable of completing the mission as well as demonstrating the abilities and value of CAP during a close examination of the relationship CAFB has with the emergency service agencies supporting them,” the release said. “His record of safety in the squadron is exemplary, and his leadership for this role has made a difference in the operation, moral and efficiency of MS057. Mike ensures that the members in the squadron are focused on safety and that they are knowledgeable about preventing, minimizing or handling with accidents and incidents as they arise.”
After the disaster exercise, Hainsey said he was grateful to the Civil Air Patrol and other agencies whose cooperation made the exercise a success.
“There were really no major problems,” Hainsey said. “Everyone responded; we had control of everyone as they came and went. The major challenge for us is the command and control of that many units getting in and going to the right place at the right time and saving lives. That’s what this is all about. It’s all about responding and saving lives in case it’s ever needed.”
The release said Breckenridge also shone in the disaster drill, and it was just one example of GTCS’s direct support of Columbus Air Force Base.
“Each year, (GTCS) flies the low level route surveys for 14 military training routes operated by CAFB, which enhances safety for the hundreds of Air Force pilots and instructors who fly these routes every year,” the release said. “Trey has given his own personal time to ensure that these missions are flown timely and the information returned to the Air Force is correct and reliable.”
The release said Breckenridge and GTCS also proved their worth when two Category 5 tornadoes touched down simultaneously in north and east Mississippi.
“Major Breckenridge volunteered himself and a crew to fly to Jackson to pick up a NWS meteorologist (and CAP member) and fly him along the track of the tornadoes for better assessment,” the release said. “This assessment resulted in the discovery of another, unseen tornado track as well as better understanding of the extent of the damage. Trey’s leadership as squadron commander represented MS057 as a go-to squadron for disaster relief and other ES activities. This single opportunity is one of many in Trey’s long stint as commander of MS 057 and exemplifies the highest qualities of leadership and volunteerism at the squadron level.”