Civil Air Patrol

October 2017

Hurricane Harvey-Irma-Maria
I’ll open this month as I opened last month – Civil Air Patrol’s support for FEMA and the citizens of our country.  No one could have predicted that we would have continuous operations across the U.S. and its territories for three different major hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria. Jose was kind enough to chase itself for a while before heading north and staying at sea.

Our Airmen have been responding around the clock in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., since August 25.  This continues to be a testament to the amazing unpaid professionals that we work with day in and day out.

CAP News created an infographic that shows CAP’s response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

They also ran a story that highlighted the work of the MER members who are serving as liaisons to FEMA at the National Recovery Coordination Center.  Lt. Col. Liz Sydow has joined the rotation which has been going on for more than a month.   We are very fortunate to have such an amazing team of senior leaders who serve 12 hour shifts daily.

Happy Birthday U.S. Air Force!
As we all know, emergency services is only one of our three missions and we had the opportunity to spotlight all three mission areas this past month.  Most of you are aware that the U.S. Air Force celebrated its 70th birthday on September 18.  A number of events in the region were held to celebrate this milestone.

One of the biggest was the Joint Base Andrews Airshow.  Tens of thousands of people visited the base to watch an amazing airshow topped off with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team.  CAP played a major role in assisting the base with everything from setting up for the show to cooking burgers for the show participants.  Lt. Col. Wes LaPre headed up the CAP team that worked with the Military District of Washington to provide an amazing day for all.

We had five aircraft from the MER and the NER on static display along with a mobile incident command post and the “mini-jet” to highlight CAP’s missions, and demonstrate the role we play in the Total Force of the Air Force.  Volunteers from across the region assisted on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a peak of 200 helpers on Saturday working various areas across the base.

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander, attended the show and sent the following message:

Col Knowles,
I had a tremendous time yesterday visiting with the cadets and senior members from your  region who were supporting the Andrews Air Show in a variety of capacities.  You had a great turnout from the National Capital, Maryland, and Virginia wings, and the feedback I received from Air Force leadership was high praise at how much your team contributed to the event’s success.  Please pass along my thanks for a job well done.

As I mentioned earlier, the Air Force celebrated its 70th birthday in September and what would a birthday party be without cake?  Many senior (and some not so senior) Airmen from the Total Force joined the Secretary of the Air Force (Dr.) Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein at the center court of the Pentagon to get the party started.  As part of the Total Force, the Air Force requested we provide the “youngest” Airmen to help cut the cake.  C/A1C David Stucchi-Saldana of the Challenger 1 Composite Squadron in the National Capital Wing ably assisted the cake cutting party.  Maj. Gen. Mark Smith attended as a component commander along with Col. JD Ellis, NatCap Wing commander, Col. Dave Sterling, CAP Liaison Officer to the Pentagon, 1st Lt. Bebe Finkenstaedt, Challenger 1 Squadron commander and SM Saldana (the cadet’s mom), and I.  Following the ceremony, the cadets attending received a lot of one-on-one career counseling from some very senior members of the US Air Force.  Read more about it here.

Members from the region and national headquarters worked at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference September 18–20 at the National Harbor in Maryland.  This event is attended by national leaders including the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and many other senior general officers.  Our own Maj. Gen. Smith and Mr. John Salvador attended representing CAP.  Our national historian Col. Frank Blazich and his team of historians provided numerous historic items from our collection.  Thousands came through the booth and learned more about their Air Force Auxiliary.

Cadet Programs – Cadet Warrior Challenge
The Inaugural Cadet Warrior Challenge took place at Joint Base Langley- Eustis in Newport News, Virginia.  Maj. Barry Feinstein and Cadet Col. Sarah Brewster lead a staff of cadet’s (and a couple of senior members) who put 19 teams from across the region through their paces. Congratulations to all the participants with a loud “hoorah” to:

  • 1st place- KAMFY (NCWG)
  • 2nd place- Monticello Mavericks (VAWG)
  • 3rd place- Coastal Eagles (VAWG)

Congratulations to the Guilford Gladiators for the top teamwork score!! I hope to see every wing in the region represented at next year’s event.

Quality Cadet Unit Award
National Headquarters announced the winners of the Quality Cadet Unit Awards for 2017.  I am proud to say that the Middle East Region led all the regions of CAP with a total of 60 units receiving this prestigious award.  Even more impressive, we also led all the regions with a 51% award rate for units eligible for the QCUA.  The next closest region had 36% of eligible units selected for the award.  This award is an objective measure of excellence and the squadrons receiving this award, many for multiple years, should be proud of their success.  Thank you to all the hard-working cadets and seniors across the 118 squadron’s eligible for this award.

Spaatz Awards
Cadet Colonel Dietrich Fassero, of the Lynchburg Composite Squadron, is Spaatz #2130, the 72nd in VAWG history and the 10th this calendar year (11th this Fiscal Year).  Fassero is currently the cadet commander at the Lynchburg Squadron. He previously served as the cadet executive officer and CAC representative. He has attended five VAWG encampments. He is a graduate of the Honor Guard Academy, National Flight Academy, RCLS and Blue Beret. C/Col. Fassero is qualified as a GTM3, GTL, Mission Scanner, Flightline Marshaller, MRO and is training to be a CUL. He has earned his Aircrew Rating and his Senior Ground Team Badge. Fassero was recognized as the Lynchburg Composite Squadron’s VFW Outstanding Cadet Officer of the Year last year and Squadron AFA unit Cadet of the Year this year. Please join me in congratulating C/Col Fassero on this major accomplishment.

For those looking to register for winter National Cadet Special Activities (NCSAs), the site will open 15 October and remain open until 15 Novemberfor priority placement consideration. Check NCSAS.com for winter offerings and the link to eServices application.

Governor’s Service Award
West Virginia Wing was honored by the Governor of West Virginia with the Governor’s Service Award for the wing’s outstanding support to the state during the flooding last year in West Virginia.  The award was accepted by Col. Paul McCrosky, the wing commander and Lt. Cols. Dodrill and Moody, the wing vice commander and chief of staff.  West Virginia Wing has one of the best relationships with their state of any wing in CAP.  They are a key component of the state’s search and rescue and disaster relief plan, and demonstrated their expertise several times this past year.  Congratulations to them and to all the members of the wing.

National Conference
This year’s conference was held in San Antonio, Texas less than a week following the devastation brought to the area by Hurricane Harvey.  For much of the conference, the TXWG Incident Command Post was run out of the hotel and several MER members attending the conference volunteered to serve on the mission.  I had the opportunity to spend some time there during the week to offer any support they needed from our region and to meet some of the staff that I had been working with the week before from FEMA.  We are truly one CAP with no border or boundaries.

The week began with several preconference sessions.  The Balsam Awards, CAP’s public affairs awards were presented. Our very own Maj. Julie Holley, Middle East Region director of public affairs, was one of the stars of the show!  Although she did not receive the “Best in Show” award, for the first time ever, judges chose an Honorable Mention Best in Show, awarding it to Maj. Holley. The judges praised her “outstanding job of securing exceptional coverage,” particularly of the Maryland Wing’s role in assisting wings farther south directly affected by Hurricane Matthew.  She received the External Media Coverage of CAP award for her efforts on “Maryland Wing Hurricane Matthew Coverage.”  She was also recognized with the Award of Excellence for her “75th Anniversary Presentation to CAP”.  Lt. Col. Christopher Roche, Glenn L. Martin Composite Squadron, Maryland Wing, “Glenn L. Martin Composite Squadron Website” received a Certificate of Merit.  Congratulations to all our hard working public affairs professionals.

The annual mission awards were presented to wings from across the nation who demonstrated superior performance in a mission area.  The awards, which are selected through objective criteria by the CAP-USAF Liaison Region commander and myself, are always a tough choice because we have the best wings in CAP in our region.  This year’s honorees are:

  • Search and Rescue Missions – West Virginia Wing
  • Disaster Relief Missions – North Carolina Wing
  • Counter Drug/Homeland Security Missions – NATCAP Wing
  • Aerospace Education Missions – North Carolina Wing

Our new National Commander/Chief Executive Officer, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith took command from Maj. Gen. Vazquez on Saturday morning.   He met with the CAP Senior Advisory Group and the Command Council during the day outlining his plans for the next three years. He shared his command philosophy with us and encouraged commanders at every level to develop their own and to share it with their teams.  I have shared mine with the wing commanders and staff in the region and will have it published on the MER website soon.  His motto for the next three years is “One CAP excelling in service to our nation and our members.”   He has some exciting new ideas to move us forward and I’m looking forward to working with him.

One of the new and exciting programs rolled out at the conference by the CAP Development Office is an Alumni Association for current and former members – cadet and seniors.  There is no charge to join the and within the next two weeks the Alumni website is scheduled to go live. The site will be www.CAPAlumni.org. The concepts and intended purpose of the Alumni Group include:

A “Closed” Social Media site where alums could share:

  • Pictures
  • Encampment Memory Books
  • CAP related memories & stories
  • CAP experiences
  • Life Experiences that have roots tied directly back to CAP

They are considering two Alumni Galas per year, one on each coast.  The Development team will be selling Polo shirts and Ball caps with the Cadet Alumni logo embroidered DIRECT from NHQ at cost plus shipping.  They have over 2000 names and email addresses in the database that they will be reaching out to when the website goes live.  I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends.

Members Helping Members
The CAP national development team has created a website to provide a way for you to help your fellow Airmen who have been affected by the hurricanes that have devastated the Southeast and Gulf Coast.  I hope you will join Teri and me in making a contribution to this grassroots effort to help.

The Numbers
I shared with you last month that the region was at an all-time high in terms of the numbers of cadets and senior members in the 21st century.  This trend continues into this month with both of these surpassing last month’s count on the 26th.  This is all due to your hard work and leadership.  The key to success for every squadron is good leadership and a quality program.  There is no doubt that there is always room for improvement and perhaps, as you read this you are saying to yourself “we could use some help.”  The good news is help is just a phone call or email away.

Your groups (if you have them) or wings have staff on hand and programs in place to support you.  As I travel around the region I am blown away by the multitude of opportunities available to support all our missions.  We do some of this at region through Region Cadet Leadership Schools, the MER SAR College, and events like the Warrior Challenge, but help is available as close as your next-door neighbor.

Squadron’s working with other squadrons is a prime example of our motto “no borders, no boundaries.”  Sure, we all compete to be the best but never at the cost of helping others.  If you need help, ask. If you are asked for help, jump at the chance.  I share all of our ideas and processes with my fellow region commanders, holding nothing back and offering them resources if they need them.  Together we are an amazing force multiplier for our nation and a strong source for the future leaders of our country.

As hard as it is to believe we are starting the new fiscal year and closing in on the end of the calendar year.  December brings many events one of the vital ones for the MER is supporting Wreaths Across America at Arlington.  This year our missions there include: radio communication within the ANC and the status of trucks.  This means our CAP volunteers will have to have ICUT and knowledge of the handhelds used by CAP.  Support with honor guards and other for the Pentagon, Capitol and other ceremonies will also require our assistance.  Put December 16 on your calendar; if you are aren’t qualified to use a CAP radio you have plenty of time to get qualified.

Thank you for all that you do.  I look forward to seeing a lot of new and old friends at the West Virginia Wing Conference in Charleston on October 20 -22 and joining with the North Carolina Wing at their 75th Birthday celebration for the cadet program on the 28th.  Please take the time to introduce yourself.

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