Thanks for sharing your story. Amazing to have a member like that in the unit!! I also had a base station at my house. The antenna was strapped to a post on my back upper porch. I checked in 3 times a week and recorded messages from the Wing and passed them onto the squadron. Great geek memories, hehehe....
Things changed quite a bit since then. From what I gather, they no longer allow teenagers younger than 17 to go out on land searches. I completely understand this decision. You can find the tragic results of an accident and that is just too much for some 14 year old.
I don't recall cadets going out on ground searches either, but working in the radio shack was a better job than what most other cadets had during search and rescue missions (I think they cleaned airplanes and kept the coffee going for flight crews).
Just to give you an idea of how much things have changed - our main transmitter was a BC-610, weighing in at over 400 pounds. Our receiver probably weighed half that. The radios in the jeep were massive also, and used one of those reallllly long whip antennas that had to be bent over and tied down when traveling on the highway.
Here's the front and back of a big BC-610:
We also of course had VHF aviation band radios, but the HF (High Frequency operating in the shortwave bands) radios got a lot of use for communications between different squadrons and wings.