A Brief History of NESA
The Academy began as the National Ground Search and Rescue School at the Miller School in VA in 1996. The program was started by John Desmarais who served as the first project officer and then stepped in as the school director from 1997 to 2003. Gary Brockman became the director in 2003. He and Robert Spencer were charter members of the NESA program and staffed the Academy every year until Lt Col Spencer's departure in. Others have followed their example, serving multiple and years giving of their time, experience, and effort to make NESA the largest Civil Air Patrol special activity with over 400 members attending each year.
Since 1998, the Academy has been held each year at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Center, Indiana.
For the first two years, the school was a two-week program. Starting in 1998, the Academy began operating two one-week long schools. From 1997 through the end of the 2003 school, NGSAR was divided into two programs, Basic and Advanced. The first class had 43 students. Within five years, the number of students had grown to 430.
Mission Base Staff School was started in 1998 when NESA moved to Camp Atterbury. It has maintained a friendly competition with MAS to be the smallest school with the highest quality graduates at the Academy.
The Mission Aircrew School was added in the year 2000. The training at MAS is rigorous and students work diligently to master the skills they need to graduate as either Mission Pilots or Mission Observers.
Many students have returned as staff, returned for additional courses, and some have returned year after year.
Participants often remain in e-mail contact, visiting at other national activities, and working on other CAP projects together. Days of hot sun, mosquitos, sleepless nights, and physical endurance tends to create bonds. The old adage of the NGSAR staff: Two Weeks of Hell- A Lifetime of Friends.
A group of former students and staff lobbied to have an alumni association for NESA to try to help assure the Academy would continue as a force in emergency services training.