December 1, 1941
Happy birthday to you! Our great organization was founded 76 years ago today when our intrepid founders took to the skies to protect the homeland against the attacks from Nazi U-boats that prowled the shores of the East and Gulf coasts. Civil Air Patrol’s very first coastal patrol flight took off from the Middle East Region Coastal Patrol Base 2 in Rehoboth, Delaware, on March 5, 1942. From March 5, 1942, to August 31, 1943 — before officially handing the mission over to the Army and Navy — the Coastal Patrol reported 173 U-boats and attacked 57 of them with 83 ordnance pieces (aka bombs). Overall, the Coastal Patrol flew 86,865 missions, logging over 244,600 hours. Coastal Patrol aircraft reported 91 ships in distress and played a key role in rescuing 363 survivors of U-boat attacks. 17 floating mines were reported and 5,684 convoy missions were flown for the Navy.
Command Senior Advisory Group Meeting
I started the month with a visit to National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base for a meeting of the Command Senior Advisory Council (CSAG). We had two full days of meetings, including selecting Lt. Col. Thomas Vreeland — an early Spaatz Award cadet #27, as the newest CAP member on the Board of Governors. We looked into a number of finance and budget items including discussions by several committees set up by the national commander, Gen. Mark E. Smith, to explore issues and provide possible solutions. We got a look into the future of safety with discussion on what the next version of SIRS (safety information and reporting system) will look like, as well as an update on CAPR 160-1 (the replacement of 62-1 and other safety regulations). We discussed aircraft allocation and what each region can expect for Fiscal Year 2018, thus we stay at the same level. All in all, it was a very productive meeting.
The following weekend I traveled to Chicago and had the privilege of chairing the interview board for the next Great Lakes Region commander. It was inspiring to talk with five amazing officers who shared their thoughts and ideas on commanding the GLR. We had a great pool of former and current wing commanders who were being considered, any of which would have been awesome. Ultimately Gen. Smith choose former Indiana Wing Commander Col. Matt Creed, a former cadet who is currently a commercial pilot. I first met Col. Creed when he was a student at MER Staff College many years ago. I have no doubt he will do a great job.
Youth Aviation Initiative Committee
I have also been working with the Youth Aviation Initiative Committee that meets every other week to look at CAP’s current programs for youth and what they may look like in the future as we answer the call from the Air Force on getting more young people into the pilot and aviation career fields to meet the growing demand for military and civilian aviators. We expect to receive $4.2 million starting in FY 2019 to fund current and new programs to support these goals. This is an exciting opportunity for CAP and it is pretty cool to be a part of putting the pieces in place to grow our future pilots and the aviation support career fields.
Wreaths Across America – Arlington National Cemetery
December is another busy month for the MER. We have one of our premier events, the Wreaths Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, 16 December 2017, and we need your help to make this a success. The national commander, vice commander and CAP’s chief operating officer will be there and are eager to thank you for your help.
CAP’s main mission at Arlington is communication support. You’ll need to have your ICUT completed, if you plan to participate. And, you need to sign up ahead of time if you plan to help. Information is on the registration page and additional information will be emailed to attendees by the coordinator. Registration closes on 12 December 2017. NatCap Wing’s Col. Jane Davies is the coordinator/incident commander for the event and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are aware that your units may also be supporting local cemetery wreath laying events. It is not our objective to detract from those events in any way. However, the event at Arlington is a massive endeavor and requires a great deal of support. If your units and members are not participating in local WAA events, please encourage them to take part in the ANC event.
Upcoming Events in the New Year
We have a number of significant events starting in 2018. Legislative Day and the winter Command Council meetings start on March 1st and go through March 3rd. Your wings will be coordinating their visits to Washington, D.C. to present our report to Congress. For those in the D.C. area take the time to attend the meetings over the weekend and introduce yourselves.
The MER conference is scheduled for May 18–20 in Williamsburg, Virginia. I encourage you to bring your families along. They can visit Colonial Williamsburg or Busch Gardens while you attend the conference. This will be my last conference as your region commander so let’s make it a great one.
The following weekend, we will be holding the 2018 MER Search and Rescue College at Ft. Pickett. Staff will report on May 30th with students coming in the 31st. Look for more details soon at http://mersar.com/.
National headquarters announced a program a month ago challenging our Airmen to reach out into their communities to raise awareness about CAP and funds for their local squadrons. The #75for75Challenge offers an opportunity for each and every Cadet and Senior Member to become a stakeholder in the future of their Unit’s Cadet Program by reaching out to their community. The good news is we have raised $28,000 in the first 29 days, the not as good news is that only a very small number are participating so far. It is pretty simple, go to the CAPmembers.com website and click on the box at the bottom of the page 75for75. It is so simple even I could do it. 75for75 Knowles, check it out and help raise awareness about our amazing organization and the people who serve in it and sign up today!
A reminder from the Civil Air Patrol Chaplain Corps that since 1972 all members of CAP are authorized to wear the AF blue or corporate uniform to worship on the first weekend of December. This year December 1-3 is that weekend. Join us in celebration by sharing your participation in CAP with members of your faith group.
I mentioned that we spent quite of bit of time at the CSAG meeting discussing safety. One of the things we discussed was safety training and reporting. Under the direction of CAP’s director of safety, Mr. George Vogt, we discontinued the practice of punishing members who were not safety current but the requirement for being safety current is still in the regulations. Vogt pointed out to the CSAG that only one of us had logged our training each month this year. I am embarrassed to say I was not that one. In my case, I am required to do safety training at work every week as part of my job. I often present the topic and as the boss I always take the last five minutes to bring the safety topic home. Every one of these sessions counts as safety training but I did not take the time to log it and as we all should know, it is not done until the paperwork is complete. I have made a resolution to do the paperwork from now on, and I hope you will join me.
December brings us Hanukkah (12 Dec – 20 Dec), Christmas (25 Dec), and Kwanzaa (26 Dec – 1 Jan), not to mention New Year’s Eve. No matter the faith (or not) it is also a time that we look back over the last year to celebrate our successes and commiserate our losses. For me, I choose to celebrate the amazing team I have the honor of working with in the region. I try to learn from the things that didn’t go according to plan and do my best not to repeat my mistakes. What I don’t do is get hung up on things that didn’t go my way. We can’t change the past, we can only do the best that we can do today and plan for the future.
We are a part of the best volunteer service organization in the world. Our members make a difference every day. Some days we are saving lives as part of our search and rescue mission, and other days we are changing lives as part of our cadet programs and aerospace education. Some days we impact one individual and other days we impact entire communities as we support disaster relief operations. I am awed by the great things you do for our nation.
Teri and I wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season. I hope to see many of you at WAA.