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In response to the need for ground support for air search missions, the concept of the Ranger Team was born under the leadership of Col Phillip Neuweiler, PAWG Commander from the late 1940's to 1970. In 1953 USAF Pararescue and survival instructors trained PAWG SAR teams at Westover AFB, Massachusetts. Due to the dedication, motivation, and high quality of the students, the instructors called them Rangers.


In 1956 the school was moved to Col Neuweiler's property at Hawk Mountain, and was staffed by USAF and CAP members. In the early 1960's Ranger Staff Cadet Training was implemented, and the Hawk Mountain Ranger School gained national prominence.


In the 1960's different Ranger Proficiency grades were established to recognize skill and experience, devised in a similar way to awards for the Boy Scouts of America. In that time, several Ranger Teams had individuals that parachuted into aircraft crash areas. There was an Airborne Ranger shoulder insignia (shown below) worn in place of the PAWG shoulder insignia.

In 1974 Brig General Leslie Westberg, the National Commander, attended the Hawk Mountain Ranger School. He completed requirements for, and was awarded Ranger First Class. General Westberg tasked national Headquarters staff to document emergency services training and to recognize and link together various related schools across the United States.

Through the 1970's there were National Ranger Schools held at Hawk Mountain, the Everglades in Florida, and Black River Mississippi. Col Bartolo Ortiz developed Ranger Schools in Puerto Rico. National Emergency Assistance Training (NEAT) schools were the official designation, recognized by the insignia worn on the breast pocket. Washington Wing Challenger School was also qualified as a NEAT school, and several of their staff trained at Hawk Mountain Ranger School.


In the early 1980's the Airborne Ranger shoulder insignia was replaced with a Search and Rescue insignia. Brig. General Richard Anderson, CAP former National Commander, visited the Hawk Mountain Ranger School in July 1996, and recognized its lasting contributions.

In the spring of 2004, the school began a major infrastructure reconstruction. Trees were cleared at the base camp, eight new administrative buildings were constructed on raised pedestals, and new latrines and shower facilities were constructed. A new gravel road was constructed leading up to the memorial gardens and chapel area. The new construction was dedicated on September 11, 2004, and the training area was rededicated as the "Col. Phillip Neuweiler Memorial Training Center."

On April 14, 2007, members of HMRS broke ground on a new 60-foot (18 m) climbing and rappelling tower. By 7 July, the tower was mostly completed, but construction was halted for the duration of the Summer School. After graduation of the 2007 class, work on the tower was resumed, and the tower was completed by August.

Until 2002 in the National Search and Rescue Manual, Air Force pararescuemen are first considered for supervision of ground search teams. "Specialized teams such as Army, Navy, and Air Force explosive ordinance (EOD) teams, Navy sea-air-land (SEAL) teams, or CAP Ranger teams should be considered next."  Since, the Hawk Mountain Ranger School and the Pennsylvania Wing Ranger Program has been the model for many of the search and rescue programs throughout the country. It continues to be the single longest running school of search and rescue.


Prior to 1961, little is known about the healthcare at the Ranger school in it's earliest times. Healthcare during this period was provided by the AF personnel at Westover AFB or CAP members with basic first aid or no formal training.     

Dr. William E.B. Hall, MD (Lt Col, CAP) provided for most of the direct healthcare in the 60's. "Doc" Hall was the Wing Medical Officer, and was the only coverage for CAP activities in Pennsylvania Wing.

The Hawk Mountain Medic Program truly became its own medical entity in the 1970's. The program was created by Lt. Don Klipstein. Klip began using cadets with extensive first aid training but without previous Hawk experience to provide care to the program. The Medic Program officially began in 1971 with several cadets with medical training from Philadelphia who served as medic staff. The medics developed an excellent rapport with the cadets and were highly respected by the cadets. Mike Squadron was first run in 1973. This squadron had its own instructors, text, teaching aids, and squadron separate from the Ranger School. Its initial (and continued) purpose was to develop and provide medics for home units as well as Hawk Mountain. The model developed by Klip (and others) is still in place today.

In 2010, HMRS started building the "Donna Connor Memorial Training Building.” Captain Donna Connor bequeathed HMRS $10,000 for a medical training building. HMRS received other donations towards this building and National Headquarters matched funds donated. Today, the 800 square foot building provides a dedicated, climate-mangaged, all-season classroom and program management office for Ranger and Medical activities.  It also provides secure storage for training supplies and is equipped with a number of technology upgrades to improve the overall quality of medical and other Ranger training delivered.


Courtesy of Col Paul R. Kopczynski, Former PA Wing Historian

Many of you have probably heard the name, Col Phillip Neuweiler, in some old documents and certainly in copies of reprints of the old Pa Wing Newsletters that have been printed over the last year which depict the early days of Civil Air Patrol in Pennsylvania. Many of you have not had the privilege of knowing him as I and a few of the old hands that remain in the Wing have. He was a remarkable man and one not easily forgotten. This article has been written to provide you with some insight into one of the most dominant and forward looking Wing Commanders Pennsylvania ever had, a true visionary.


Phillip F. Neuweiler a long time prominent civic leader, sportsman, and Brewmeister, was the President of the Neuweiler brewing Company founded by his grandfather Louis F. Neuweiler in 1878. In the beginning it was known as the Germania Brewery. In 1911 when the massive brewery was erected at Front & Gordon Streets, it became known as the L. F. Neuweiler & Sons Brewery and in later years the Neuweiler Brewing Corporation. They were known for their famous Neuweiler Cream Ale which flowed quite freely at CAP functions and a case of the brew was always presented as a gift to visiting dignitaries. This is the only reason I think a lot of them always came. In fact, it was always a door prize including the famous serving trays from the brewery at banquets and meetings that were held around the Wing. The brewery itself went on until 1969 long after bankruptcy proceedings were originally filed. Today, the Neuweiler Brewery no longer exists but there is a claim that a third generation Neuweiler is producing beer under the Neuweiler name in the Reading area. The only remaining vestige that Neuweiler ever existed in the brewing business in Allentown was a pub in one of the hotels in Allentown owned by the brewery, called The Colonel Neuweiler Pub named after Col Neuweiler. The Neuweiler Brewery did quite well for many years which allowed the Colonel to direct his efforts to build a great Wing. There were bars and hotels owned by the Neuweilers throughout the region that served their beer exclusively and were very successful with this set up until the IRS enacted laws regarding company entertainment expenses which prevented breweries from owning such establishments. Something however, that still goes on in the United Kingdom.


Besides being involved in the brewery business, Phillip Neuweiler was greatly influenced and interested in aviation. He was a pioneer pilot and airplane owner and was quite influential and a dominant factor in the development in the Allentown (ABE) airport, now known as the Lehigh Valley International Airport. He was influential in the development of airports and of aviation not only in the Allentown area, but throughout the state of Pennsylvania and nationally. Colonel Neuweiler was a member of the Lehigh - Northampton Authority since its inception and the Pennsylvania Aviation Commission for many years. When the airport Authority was formed in 1943 he was its first Treasurer, a post he held until 1969.


His interest in aviation benefited his enthusiasm for field sports and hunting and had flown on extensive hunting expeditions as far away as the Rocky Mountains, Canada, the Bering Strait and Artic Circle. He shot a polar bear in 1958 that was declared the largest ever bagged in the American Artic. This bear was mounted and displayed at many sportsmen's shows and expositions throughout the Lehigh Valley. It has been said the polar bear

now resides at Muhlenberg College. Colonel Neuweiler served on the Boards of the Lehigh Agricultural Society and was and trustee of Sacred Heart Hospital. Colonel Neuweilers enthusiasm for flying and the development of aviation in the area will be long remembered.


After WWII broke out, Col .Neuweiler was a principal factor in the formation of the CAP not only locally, but throughout the State and on a National level. He was appointed Training Officer in 1943 during the formative years of the 31st Pennsylvania Wing. During this period he formed the first Drill team in the Pennsylvania Wing, a "Wing" drill team. This has been documented on film which has been converted from celluloid to DVD and is available at Wing Headquarters. Colonel Neuweiler was appointed Wing Commander on 16 August 1945 and served until 31 March 1946 and again, from 9 August 1947 until 21 march 1970, the longest tenure of any Wing Commander in Civil Air Patrol history. Something that we will never see again. During the span of his career, Colonel Neuweiler accomplished some notable achievements. For example; he was designated as the first Search Pilot in the Wing, flew the first mercy mission and went on to fly 386 mercy flights in addition to many as we then called them SAR Missions (also for training flights ) and Redcaps (actual SAR authorized missions). He was the first to land on an open highway during some of the CD missions and paved the way for such flights during Civil Defense training Exercises which were conducted as part of the training program in the 50's and 60's. The first ground to air message pickup, etc and the list goes on and on. In the process, Colonel Neuweiler at last count in 1966, accumulated over 5000 flying hours since starting flying in 1929.


He has the distinction of being the Pennsylvania Wings First Ranger and formed the first Ranger Team. And also formed the first Pennsylvania Wing Squadron, Squadron 801. You guessed it; they held their meetings in a property owned by the brewery three blocks north of the main plant. Something else that the Rangers should know and be thankful for, is the fact that Colonel Neuweiler owned a pheasant farm on one of the three adjoining properties in the surrounding area one of which was the Pine Swamp area that is now site of the Hawk Mountain Ranger Training Area. The fact that he owned the property which was one farm broken down into parcels, was to be sold at foreclosure as part of the aforementioned bankruptcy. This made it possible for a few CAP individuals who formed Rangers Incorporated, to purchase the Pine Swamp Road property, at auction and eventually donating the property to National Headquarters in 1983 thus assuming custody of the property and having it remain a CAP entity.

This facility is a big part of his legacy and should so be preserved. 

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