By John Banuelos
After four weeks of commitment, 38 new Type 3 members (25 adults and 13 Explorers) officially joined the Team on September 27th. A graduation of sorts was held in the FOB parking lot late that night as they received their Sheriff ID cards. You never heard a louder group of cheers and congratulations given for fellow members; it was a level of enthusiasm that created delight for all who observed the ceremony.
After a break, 23 fresh Type 3 members and 10 Explorers pressed right into the Type 2 Academy, adding two more weeks of effort to their already full-time lives. Their enthusiasm never dissipated. They all wanted to be Type 2 ground-pounders and were ready to take on UNO.
Like every UNO before this class, the secret was kept, the challenges were laid out, and UNO was unleashed on 30 ready, willing and able students of 2012. Dungeon Master Larry Fong, with the help of his minion of SAR veterans, orchestrated the challenges for the next 24-plus hours.
At 0300 hours on Sunday, when I said, “The next phase of UNO begins now,” nobody gave me a cheery look (rather quite the opposite). Luckily, it was the sleep phase. Tired and worn, they bedded down to await the dawn and the final phase of UNO. Few slept, some struggled, but all kept their focus on the mission. Dawn came, and with it, the final challenges of the new day. The participants were not as fast or as spry as the day before, but they persevered through the early morning.
Sunday morning brings the “Mogadishu mile.” On this day, 20 new Type 2 candidates, with nine explorers and Eddy Crochetiere (now a certified Type 2) did the “mile” with Lisa McGraw, the volunteer subject, carried on the stokes wheel. As they neared the end, the smiles of the Class of 2012 beamed once again.
How many CocoSAR members does it take to do the academies and UNO?
I can tell you with great pride that 100 members contributed to the development of these 38 members. Eighty members helped with the Type 3 Academy. An additional 20 joined in during the Type 2 Academy and UNO. Chris Poppett’s logistic crew, Larry Fong’s minions of UNO, the bulk of the team resources, the Hasty squad, and so many more contributed to making the Type 3 and 2 academies a success. I thank each and every one of you for your support. Job well done.
This ratio of 2.5 veterans helping in the development of one new member was not lost on the Class of 2012. Even after UNO, they all stayed on to help put away and rehab the equipment. Once done, as a group they presented to the Academy staff, the Command Staff, and to the full Team of CoCoSAR, by proxy, a plaque. Its message was simple; from the original 38, it was a heartfelt thank you to the full team for all that we had done to help them.