Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue, Inc. (otherwise known as SAMSAR) is an all volunteer, non-profit mounted search and rescue unit serving the Pima County community. It is the primary provider to the Pima County Sheriff’s department for mounted search and rescue services.
Its members have a combined experience of more than 50 yrs. and have recently reorganized as SAMSAR to provide more effective paraprofessional mounted search and rescue services.
Our teams consist of horse/mule and rider and have undergone rigorous training and field experience to meet field certification requirements.
George F.Herget, Jr.— Vice President
George holds the unique position as Field Qualified for both the Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue and Southern Arizona Rescue (SARA) as well as a member of the Mountain Rescue Association.
As an Outdoor Emergency Care Technician he often assists in medical training for both SAMSAR and SARA. George began his Search and Rescue career back in 1999.
George is also in Large Animal Rescue so that he can rescue not only people but horses and other large critters as well.
Colleen Kopf Leon — Secretary
My Family moved from Indiana to Tucson many years ago. The only way my parents could get me to go along with it willingly was to tell me I could grow up and marry a cowboy and have lots of horses in Arizona, well heck, who would turn that down! I was in and off we moved.
Never did get a horse though . . . I went to school, dreamt of horses, got married, dreamt of horses, had a child and started a career in banking for 18 years, still dreaming of horses. It was when I turned 40 my husband surprised me with my very first horse. Some would say a little long in the tooth to start riding. From the start, I wanted to experience everything from learning how to ride a horse to breaking my first horse. I did cattle drives, team penning, team sorting and barrel racing. I joined the Tucson Saddle Club and lead many 5 day camping rides.
Nothing satisfied me as much as joining Search and Rescue. Here I have found a satisfaction and sense of where I should be, serving the public! I had the great honor of being the first President of Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue. I work with the finest group of Search and Rescue men and women.
My trusty steeds and I are well trained and ready for “the big one”, any day or night.
Kay Cagle— Co-Treasurer
I was born in Illinois 3/26/48 (eeek!). We moved to Phoenix, Arizona when I was 11 and have been in Arizona ever since.
My high school sweetheart (Don) and I met in 1965, married in 1968 and he’s still my sweetheart. God blessed us with two great kids, Jason 39 and Kayci 36. Also Jason has our one grandchild, Chey Ann, who is currently residing in Germany – but will be back next year – hallelujah!. I have had a life-long love of all animals, especially dogs and horses, but didn’t get my first horse until age 42. We now have 11 Arabians and National Show Horses – along with two dogs, 1 cat and 6 desert tortoises.
My professional education concluded with a BSN from the U of A in 1978 and I spent the majority of my nursing career in emergency departments, but currently work in recovery room at Camp Lowell Surgery Center one day a week. I’ve been involved with mounted search and rescue for about 6 years and was very pleased to be involved with the founding of SAMSAR, for which I currently serve as Treasurer. I’m also becoming involved in Therapy Dog activities (along with Simon - my yellow lab mix – a wonderful rescue dog), through Delta Society and hope to give back to my community in both of these ways.
My favorite activities are riding, reading and spending time with family and friends. Thanks to all my buddies in SAMSAR for being who they are—such special people!
Jerry Simmons — Medical Coordinator/Instructor
I was born in Mount Airy N.C. in 1947 as one of six kids. Grew up on a dairy and tobacco farm. Out of high school in 1965. Went to work for First National Bank in Stuart Va. Was drafted in the Army and I elected to join the Air Force 1966. Stationed at Davis Monathan Air Base in Tucson. Spent a year in Vietnam, eighteen months in upper California. Served four years, working as a security police. Honorable discharged from the USAF September of 1970. Moved back to Tucson.
I went to college at Pima (major in Business and advertising) Automotive Management institute for five years. Plus numerous courses while in the military. Was employed by Nationwide Finance company and city bank until starting Simmons Enterprises,dba Simmons 4x4 auto service center in 1974. Still at Simmons 4x4, 37 yrs plus. I am the host of the Simmons Car Care Show, starting in 1989, we broadcast live each saturday on 104.1 FM at 6a.m.
I married my wife Diana in 1968, we have two children, Pam Pomeroy and Wade Simmons as well as two grand-kids, Kassidy and Tyler.
I spent 20 years as a volunteer with Pima County Sheriff's Posse, working within the organization as needed, including Search and Rescue. Left the Sheriffs Posse to form a special ops unit, Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue. Specializing in only Search and Rescue or any special assignment, working exclusively for the Pima County Sheriffs Department as part of an all volunteer organization. I am a certified Outdoor Emergency Care Technician and trainer. I also hold a Healthcare Provider CPR certification.
My hobbies include, Search and Rescue, fishing and anything outdoors. I have four horses and a mule that I have and still use them for the purpose of Search and Rescue. I do search and rescue because I love it. It's my personal contribution to the comunity that I live in.
Debi Mitchell — Co-Treasurer
I moved from Indiana to Arizona my last year of high school and consider myself a native of Arizona. My love of horses began at an early age and I began riding at the age of 12. I fell off and broke my shoulder but continued to ride while in a body cast!
Career and family commitments took me away from horses for awhile, but in my 30's I was able to get back into the saddle. I have some experience in many horseback activities, but mostly team penning and endurance riding.
I was asked to help in search and rescue about ten years ago and once involved, it has become my passion. As a founding member of SAMSAR I have the privilege to work with the greatest group of selfless, hard working horseback riders that exist. We enjoy giving back to our community in many ways, especially looking for the lost and helping the injured. As a retired critical care registered nurse, I am able to use my advanced skills to benefit anyone in need.I have a special love for Arabian Horses and use my horse, Girlie for all my rescue missions.
When I was a small child I always wanted to be a cowboy! My dream finally came true 18 years ago. My wife and I live on a horse ranch in Oro Valley, and I am very proud and excited to have been a member of SAMSAR for the last 4 years, using my horsemanship skills to help the community that I love.
Tucson has been my home since 1982 and I have cherished every minute of being in Arizona.
My earlier life was in Scottsdale, AZ , Albuquerque NM, and the Chicago, Il areas.
Having a homebuilder career for 38 years has been a wonderful experience for me. I've made many new friends building master planned communities and traveling in the southwest and happy to have settled in Tucson.Along the way, I had the privilege of managing a western-themed community along the Arizona Mogollon Rim, trail riding, herding buffalos, and generally enjoying the "cowboy lifestyle". To be able to participate in mounted rescue and helping people in need is extremely rewarding--if you ever find yourself in a bad situation, I may be the cowboy giving you a ride down the mountain. With pleasure!
I have lived in Tucson all my life and I’ve traveled everywhere a person would have loved to travel. But, really Tucson is home and with that is our Sonoran Desert—which is, of course, beautiful and full of life. In all my years here what I remember most of all is the first time I was introduced to the desert and to a horse. This I can thank my father for—while I hung on to his belt loop at an early age. My love of animals and the desert has transformed into having the privilege of serving the community and riding my horse while enjoying my extended backyard. SAMSAR has enhanced my knowledge of the desert and it’s vastness but with that comes the responsibility of helping the community. Un Abrazo pada Tucson!
I was raised on a wheat farm in Kansas. I was not allowed to have a horse then but, I made up for lost time after graduating from college. Moved to Wisconsin to get a job. I wanted a horse since I was born so I made it happen. I went to the wealthy farms from place to place until I found a homeowner that would let me keep the horse I had just purchased there in exchange for cleaning stalls. I knew nothing about horse ownership, just knew I wanted horses and would learn. Plus I had a full time job and married with one child then. In time I progressed with my horse knowledge and became the manager of Hiawatha Downs and the experience I gained was immeasurable I never let go of the horses the rest of my life.
I was blessed to find a husband off a South Dakota ranch that loved horses also. After moving to Colorado my husband and I became heavily involved with our kids in 4-H with the horses doing the pleasure shows/gymkhana shows and Little Britches Rodeos. We were so busy showing, our kids didn't have time to get in trouble. In the 80's my husband and I moved to Arizona. It was later in the 90"s we were introduced to the driving world. We switched from ridden horse shows to competing in Combined Driving Events. To this day we ride and drive our horses. We are riding trails when not competing and enjoying our horses.
I have 3 passions. Horses, flying and music. I had a country bluegrass band for years in Colorado and it is in Colorado where I earned my Commercial Pilot's License. I was involved with the Civil Air Patrol as a 1st. Lieutenant and flew on search missions there. Quite a difference between flying and riding horses on a mission.
I am excited about being a new member of Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue. The short time I have been involved with the members has been very rewarding and informative. There is a lot of training that is involved and I am looking forward to being qualified to assist with the search and rescue team.
Chris Massimi is a former Analyst, Engineer and Program Manager in the US Defense industry. Her experience includes design and development of complex equipment culminating in her being the Program Manager for the US Army Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System Head Up Display (ANVIS HUD). As program Manager, she was responsible for the development and production of the the ANVIS HUD. She then became responsible for the fielding and installation of the system into various military aircraft and the training of aviation personnel in the use of the equipment, mainly on helicopter aircraft.
Chris Massimi is an experienced rider in both the competitive and working arenas. She has extensive experience across riding disciplines including English and Western riding styles. As a rancher in the southwest, she is an active rider with knowledge of the various terrains and difficulties the southwest environment presents.
I have been around horses for as long as I can remember. I grew up competing in Eventing and 4H. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelors in Animal Science. I've worked in the veterinary field in one way or another since 1998. I enjoy helping the community and being able to do that with my horse is very rewarding for me. My current horse is off the track and sold for close to a million dollars as a yearling. He was donated to the University of Arizona where he stood at stud for several years before I purchased him in 2008.
I was born and raised on a Thoroughbred race horse farm in UT. I have been around horses my entire life and love everything about it. From cleaning stalls, to starting colts, to foaling out mares, it is a passion of mine. Thoroughbreds are my breed of choice, because of the their height, so that my legs won't drag the ground as I'm riding. My current horse is a 14 year old gelding that I've owned for about 6 years. His name is Idaho Spud because of where we got him from. He is close to 18 hands tall, and 1400 pounds. I'm excited to be a part of SAMSAR and look forward to learning from all the tenured volunteers within the group.