Lt Colonel John Woods, CAP, a long time member of Civil Air Patrol came up with the idea of hosting an emergency services school in Missouri during the late 1970s and 1980s. LTC Woods held the early Pathfinder courses at the Sedalia, MO emergency operations center. It wasn’t long before the school’s notoriety and reputation grew and CAP members from throughout the country were attending the courses.
Major Danny Mallow was the Chief of Training during much of the 1980s. Major Mallow provided survival and advanced search and rescue training. As the school grew quickly the facilities were rapidly becoming too small. After the class of 1982 was held, the course moved to Ft Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks. The US Army installation offered a wide range of opportunities for the school which was held the first time in the summer of 1983.
Due to other responsibilities, Maj Mallow and other staff members were unable to continue with the school. LTC Woods recruited a staff that included Majors Erma Kinsley, Jeanette Rockey (Lawson), Scott Lawson, Ricky Mathews, and a cadet staff to assist with the training. The new staff and location met with the challenges and returned the next year to Ft Wood with additional staff. After several years of running the school, LTC Woods stepped aside to have Maj Scott Lawson take over. Maj Lawson then ran the school at both FT Leonard Wood and other locations throughout Missouri until the early 2000’s when the program was retired.
In 2013 a group of Civil Air Patrol officers led by Maj John Burrows and Capt Alan Altis, began work to reintroduce the program under the authority of the Missouri Wing Headquarters. The first class was to be held back at Ft Leonard Wood in the summer of 2014 with a renewed curriculum.
Throughout the years the Pathfinder Technical School was praised with providing high-quality emergency services training. Members from nearly every wing attended at some point in time. Many of these members are still in CAP today. Several used the spark of interest gained at the school to become professional emergency services workers.