Trey Ketzner ’21 (seen here cooking pancakes in a faculty home for his prom dinner last spring) grew up right around the corner from St. Andrew's, in Middletown, Delaware. At SAS, he is a proud resident of Sherwood Corridor, serves on the V Form Council, participates in our student mentoring program, runs on the boys cross-country team in the fall, and rows in the first varsity eight boat for boys crew in the spring. We sat down with Trey recently to learn more about his off-campus involvement in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, an Air Force leadership and aerospace training program for high school students.
I've been part of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, in the Middletown squadron, for three years. The Civil Air Patrol is part of the Air Force Auxiliary, and it is an aerospace education program as well as an emergency services unit. Its cadet program [open to youth ages 12 through 18] teaches aerospace [education], as well as leadership, physical training [PT], military standards and customs, how to march, and stuff like that. We have four meetings a month: a PT meeting; a formal meeting, in dress blues; and the other two meetings are in the airman battle uniform, which is camouflage. We have the same rank system as the Air Force. I am the squadron commander for the Middletown squadron, as well as the head chair representing the Delaware Wing for the Cadet Advisory Council. In this role, I work with all squadrons in the state and also report to the regional level to keep them updated with what is going on within Delaware.
During the summers, the Civil Air Patrol has a lot of camps. I went to their basic encampment program, which is like boot camp for a week, when I was 12. For the last two summers, I also did the survival and search and rescue camp at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania. It’s a lot of camping, no power, not a lot of food. We had to trap, kill, and skin rabbits to eat. It was a lot of fun. Most of the search and rescue missions that happen in the United States are completed by the Civil Air Patrol. I was certified for search and rescue at the Hawk Mountain Ranger School, so if they needed a ground team anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic, I could go.
I've always been interested in helping other people. I have three younger siblings, and I've always felt the need to protect them. Every time I see my great-grandfather, he tells me stories about his service in World War II. He was a navigator for a B-17, and flew 12 missions and was shot down on his 13th. He was a POW in Germany for nine months before the war ended, and there's something about it that really spoke to me.
My goal is to join special operations as a pararescueman. If people go down behind enemy lines overseas, or if there are really perilous situations stateside—such as natural disasters—where people are lost, pararescue goes in.
Last summer, I went to the pararescue orientation course, which is the hardest thing the Civil Air Patrol offers. I'm the youngest in the country to have graduated. Unlike the other cadet programs and camps, they have actual special operations [officers] that come in. It was ten days in the middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We got around four hours of sleep a night, we only had two meals a day. We did over 10,000 push-ups, but it wasn’t all being yelled at. We went rappelling one day; we did a 20 mile hike up and down a mountain, which I'm not used to because I grew up in Middletown; we learned about how to save someone swimming; how to make shelters out of parachutes; and how to choose a proper place to put a shelter. I was not successful in that because I put my shelter right over a scorpion nest. I killed three scorpions, and I also woke up with a tarantula on me at one point.
Before I go into pararescue, my goal is to join the Air Force. I'm working to get my pilot's license, and I have flown four times as a copilot in a Cessna. I've also flown in an C-5M Super Galaxy, which is the largest plane operating in the United States.
One of the most important things I've learned from all of these experiences is to do things not for yourself, but for the people around you. At the pararescue course, none of us wanted to be doing those pushups, but we did them because we knew everybody around us was doing them. You know they're going through the same thing you are. I thought about quitting a lot, but you’re stronger than you think you are. There's also something about sticking through it that is really important to me, as well as having discipline in simple everyday things like making your bed, and always trying to be polite to others, and stuff like that. That’s very important to me.
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