Civil Air Patrol completes weekend sundown patrol

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The Civil Air Patrol is a non-profit organization, made up of volunteers, that is recognized as an official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

Every weekend, volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol work with the Coast Guard, flying around the Gulf to locate stranded boaters in the water. They call it sundown patrol.

"We're the eyes of the sky, and we're listening all the time," Lt. Col. Hank Rogers said.

Rogers flies over the waters of Hancock and Harrison Counties searching for boaters in distress, all while working closely with the Coast Guard.

"The Coast Guard provides our guard. What that means is, while we're airborne, we'll be in radio communications with U.S. Coast Guard's station Mobile and U.S. Coast Guard station Gulfport. So we check in with them every 30 minutes. They kind of keep an eye on us to let them know we're okay," Rogers said.

Rogers says it's not too often they have to call the Coast Guard out for a rescue, but he's prepared if it happens.

"Most of the time, what happens is, we'll get a call from the Coast Guard or we'll see someone that we can see in the water broke down. The Coast Guard will talk to those people, find out they're in trouble and we'll just stay there with them or we'll report that they're in trouble with the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard in that particular case will send out one of their fast teams out of Gulfport, and they are able to tow them back in," said Rogers.

Being high in the sky to help those down below is what Rogers enjoys, so boaters in need can make it back home.

"We're those eyes in the sky that are looking for those types of things. So it's very important to us because we have helped people get back home safely," Rogers said.

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