Cadet Capt. Max Onderik took this aerial photo of Howe’s Lake from a CAP plane.
Cadet Capt. Max Onderik and 1st Lt. Richard Moore, photographed during winter training.
Cadet Capt. Max Onderik
2012 Search and Rescue Academy
MICHIGAN – July 16 was shaping up as just another day at the 2012 Michigan Wing Search and Rescue Academy in Grayling, with students sitting in classrooms listening to their instructors and senior staff members working diligently to prepare for the days ahead.
Suddenly a call came over the radio, breaking the routine: “Cadet commander, we need you at the medical bay immediately!” The encampment’s cadet commander – this year, Cadet Capt. Max Onderik – normally doesn't get such calls unless an extremely serious medical emergency is occurring, so he responded immediately and sprinted across base camp.
Before Onderik could reach the medical bay, a medical staff member pointed to adjacent Howe’s Lake. The cadet instantly focused on a little girl floating on a toy raft.
Running on pure adrenaline, Onderik removed his boots, emptied his pockets and splashed into the water in full battle dress uniform. About 100 yards behind, Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Michael Miller, an Advanced Course instructor, had done the same.
As they swam toward the child, who waited patiently on her raft, Onderik saw 1st Lt. Richard Moore, the Basic Course commander, swimming perpendicularly to the pair. Moore reached the raft first, holding it so the current couldn’t take it any farther, and Onderik arrived shortly thereafter.
Moore spoke with the 4-year-old as Onderik focused on getting her to shore. Out of breath, Moore, Onderik and Miller delivered her to her anxiously awaiting family, who were camping on the opposite shore.
Afterward, the three staff members shook hands and patted each other on the back.They didn’t say much to each other – not only because they were out of breath but also because they were humbled by the rescue, which called on their training during the academy and also its lessons of preparedness for any situation that might arise.
Onderik serves as a flight commander of the 176th Selfridge Composite Squadron, while Moore is emergency services serves at officer for both the Selfridge squadron and Michigan Wing Group 702. Miller is a member of the Hudsonville Metro Cadet Squadron.