Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Antietam National Battlefield: Final Weeks

Fellow ProRangers and followers,

The final weeks at Antietam National Battlefield have begun and it is time for one last post. Over the past two weeks, Morgan and I have been privileged with awesome opportunities and have made priceless memories. During our week leading up to Leadership Camp, Morgan and I took advantage of several training opportunities and participated in a special visit to Washington D.C. In addition, we still found time to work in the Park and review weapon procedures at the C&O Canal shooting range.

Morgan and I began the week of July 23 at two different training events. Morgan traveled to Prince William Forest Park for a CPR/First-aid class while I was introduced to Antietam's boundary program as well as Defensive Tactics training. To begin the morning, Ranger Rory Moore explained to me the boundary procedures and allowed me to hike a portion of the boundary for practice. While hiking the boundary, we searched for each survey marker and checked to make sure that they were still in place. These survey markers are extremely critical to park operations, therefore; all steps are taken to prevent their movement or destruction.

Credit: NPS Photo
After our boundary review, I returned to the Ranger Station in order to prepare for our afternoon training at the National Conservation Training Center. This training was hosted by the C&O Canal Rangers as an introduction to Defensive Tactics. At the training we learned a number of techniques related to officer safety and defensive movements. Following the training, we returned to the Park and conducted area patrols.

The next ProRanger event was held on Wednesday, July 25 at the Main Interior Building in Washington D.C. In the morning, ProRangers from across the National Capital and Northeast Regions gathered at the National Capital Region Regional Office to prepare for our meeting with National Park Service Deputy Director Peggy O'Dell. While at NCR Headquarters, we were introduced to NCR Regional Director Steve Whitesell as well as Phil Selleck and Einar Olsen. After our meeting with the NCR staff, we loaded into our vehicles and headed to the Main Interior Building.

Once at Main Interior we were joined by Chief Kim Coast and Temple University's Dr.Vicki McGarvey. Prior to our meeting with Deputy Director O'Dell, we discussed the ProRanger program and reminisced about our summers. Before long, we were escorted to the National Park Service offices and seated in the Directors Conference Room where we would have our meeting. During our meeting with Deputy Director O'Dell, we spoke about our NPS experiences and offered suggestions for the future. Deputy Director O'Dell was extremely active in the discussion and was receptive to our ideas. The Deputy Director is a major supporter of the ProRanger Program and I am confident that she is committed to helping us succeed as National Park Rangers.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
  At the conclusion of our meeting, we all were treated to lunch by Chief Coast and Regional Chief Will Reynolds. Following lunch, we made our way to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to pay our respects to those Lost in the Line of Duty. Our time at the Memorial was extremely humbling. In total, there are 19,600 names engraved on the Memorial. While at the Memorial we paid our respects to the Rangers and Special Agents from the National Park Service who were Lost in the Line of Duty.

After our trip to Washington on Wednesday, Morgan and I returned to Antietam on Thursday for a day with the Law Enforcement Division. On Thursday we focused on Law Enforcement training and park patrol. Morgan assisted Ranger Tom Jones input a case into the Case Incident Reporting System. This system allows the Rangers to write incident reports and document the facts of each case. These reports correspond with the case numbers issued by Dispatch, and are kept on file for future reference. Case incident reports are extremely important and each detail of the incident must be documented in the narrative.

Case Incident Reporting System

Morgan reviewing the M-4

Our exciting week at Antietam was capped off on Friday with a trip to the C&O Canal shooting range. Firearms instructor Rory Moore accompanied Morgan and I to the range and brought his patrol rifle and shotgun for training. We began the range day with a thorough discussion of each firearm and a safety review of the weapons. Once Ranger Moore was comfortable with our knowledge of the weapons systems, we were allowed to fire the weapons in a safe environment. Morgan and I were given the opportunity to fire the Remington 870 patrol shotgun and the Colt M-4 Carbine during our time at the range. We fired these weapons from different distances and focused on proper form and safety techniques. Ranger Moore stressed that we learn the basics of the weapons first, in order to help us learn advanced techniques in the future.

Following our busy week at Antietam, Morgan and I traveled to Western Pennsylvania for our week at Outdoor Odyssey Leadership Camp. Outdoor Odyssey is an adventure filled leadership center located in Boswell, Pennsylvania. This summer marks the second trip to Outdoor Odyssey for the ProRanger program. As expected, the week was a great success and offered several team building opportunities for the ProRanger program. The schedule at Outdoor Odyssey includes High Ropes courses, White Water Rafting, 94 foot cliff repelling and much more! In addition to the leadership activities, we also made a morning trip to Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I would like to thank all of the staff at Flight 93 for taking the time to speak with us and allowing us to visit the site.

At the conclusion of Leadership Camp, Morgan and I made our way back to Antietam. Once at Antietam, Morgan returned to Philadelphia in order to prepare for the upcoming Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program. I remained at Antietam for one more week with the Law Enforcement Rangers. I would like to thank all of the staff at Antietam for allowing us to work here this summer, and all of the NPS staff for making ProRanger a success! Morgan and I will both use the knowledge and experience that we gained this summer throughout our careers.

I wish everyone safe travels back home, and a great semester at Temple!

Jay Copper

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