Commander's Commentary

Like most of you, the end of February creeped up on me.  The fact that it is the shortest month of the year has something to do with it but preparing for Legislative Day, the CAP Command Council meetings and processing the annual ‘of the year’ awards also had a lot to do with it.  The MER staff has been working hard to help make our region the best one in the nation because we owe it to our members to make your service as rewarding and easy as possible.

Cyber Patriot Competition
This past month the cadet Cyber Patriot competition announced the state winners for various categories.  I am proud to share that a number of units in the region did very well. I am also proud of the number of teams that participated.  This is a voluntary program that a number of squadrons are participating in that provides insight into the vital cyber security field.  The CAP cadet program has a number of career familiarization programs for our youth members, and the cyber security field is one of the most in- demand career fields out there.  The cadets and their senior sponsors are living our core values of service and excellence.  Congratulations to the following MER teams:

Cyber Patriot All Service Division State Awards

  • MD Platinum Tier Hagerstown Composite Squadron - 1st Place AFA State Award
  • MD Platinum Tier St. Mary's Composite Squadron Team 1 - 2nd Place AFA state Award
  • MD Gold Tier Wicomico Composite Squadron CyberSentinels - 1st Place Gold Tier Award
  • MD Gold Tier Andrews Composite Squadron Team Sentry - 2nd Place Gold Tier Award
  • MD Gold Tier Bethesda Chevy Chase Composite Squadron BCC CAP A - 3rd Place Gold Tier Award
  • NC Platinum Tier Raleigh-Wake Composite Squadron - 1st Place AFA State Award
  • NC Platinum Tier Cape Fear Squadron NC-023 Cape Fear Sq - 3rd Place AFA State Award
  • NC Silver Tier Orange County Composite Squadron Phoenix Rising - 1st Place Silver Tier Award
  • VA Platinum Tier West Richmond Cadet Squadron WRCS - 1st Place AFA State Award
  • VA Platinum Tier Minuteman Composite Squadron  Quizzaciously - 3rd Place AFA State Award
  • VA Gold Tier Leesburg Civil Air Patrol Squadron VA-Team 1 - 3rd place Gold Tier Award
  • WV Platinum Tier Morgantown Composite Squadron Morgantown CAP Cyber Patriot - 2nd Place AFA State Award
  • WV Gold Tier Mercer County Composite - 2nd Place Gold Tier Award

Encampment Season Ahead

Speaking of cadets, I am starting to see announcements coming out for encampments.  Many of our wings have started staff selection and training.  In fact, I had the chance to visit three of the wings’ staff planning this past month by stopping by the staff training weekend for the Tri-Wing Encampment.  Yes, I  managed to hit three birds with one stone.  It was great to be able to visit with some really great cadets and answer some really great questions. 

After I finished talking with the cadets, the encampment commander, Lt. Col. Mike Starr, and I had a “small world” moment.  To help understand this, you need a bit of the backstory.  When I was a wing commander, Lt. Col. Starr moved from NCWG to MDWG, and I was fortunate enough to recruit him to serve as on wing staff, eventually taking over as the Wing A6 (Comms).  I knew he had been a cadet, but I didn’t know much more about his CAP history.  As I told the story of my first encampment as a cadet, a lot of my story seemed familiar to him.  After I got home and pulled out the certificate from my first encampment, took a picture and sent it to him, we discovered that he was a staff member at my first encampment.  In fact, we both knew a lot of the same people from back in the day and have been sharing stories about the great leaders we grew up with.   One of the questions that I was asked was, “What was the best thing about going to encampment for you?”  My answer, ironically before I knew that Lt. Col. Starr and I went to encampment together, was the lasting friendships I have made with the people I grew up with in CAP.  In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it was “Déjà vu all over again”. 

Upcoming Events

If you have not had the chance to visit the MER website https://www.mer.cap.gov/ , stop by.  There are links to information on the two Region Cadet Leadership Schools MER CLS – South 16 – 22 July 2017   at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, and MER CLS – North - 23 – 29 July 2017 at Camp Fretterd, MD . 

There is a link to sign up for the joint MER/VAWG Conference https://www.mer.cap.gov/index.php/mer-news/134-mer-va-wing-conference-registration-has-opened as well.  There are still a limited number of rooms at the conference but they are filling up fast. So, if you are interested in going you should sign up as soon as possible.  Virginia Wing and the MER will be presenting their ‘of the year’ awards along with a number of other awards.  There will be seminars on a wide range of topics as well, along with presentations on the “state of the region” and “state of the wing.”  I hope to see many of you there.

Input for ‘of the Year’ Awards

This past month was the cutoff for the region ‘of the year’awards.  There are 31 awards that we look at for the region.  Ideally that would mean 31 awards x 7 wings = 217 separate nominations.  In fact, we have 128 nominations.  There are a few cases where a wing may not have a candidate due to a lack of emphasis in the area, for example the AE Teacher of the Year.  This award is for someone that is not a member of CAP so if a wing does not have ties to schools in their state they may not have a good candidate.  But, we certainly would like to see more nominations.

We did better this year than last, but I want you to make my job harder next year and submit even more nominations.  As you know, these come from the members of each wing.  Anyone can nominate someone else for an award at the wing level. The more folks that nominate during their wing ‘of the year awards,’ the more awards make it the region level.

We have amazing members doing phenomenal things deserving of recognition, but we all have to do our part to recognize them.  So, when the time comes in your wing to submit your nominations, DO IT!  This year Maryland Wing led the process submitting nominations for 84% of the categories, North Carolina was a close second with 74%.  I know we can do better.

North Carolina Wing Conference

I was unable to attend the NCWG Conference due to serving as the presiding officer at the VAWG Change of Command ceremony.  There were a number of achievements recognized at the NCWG conference but one stands out above the others.  Col. Larry Ragland, representing the CAP national commander, and Col. Dennis Barron, MER vice commander-west, presented C/Lt. Col. Aiden S. Maxfield with Civil Air Patrol’s Silver Medal of Valor. The Medal was presented in recognition of Cadet Maxfield’s bravery in assisting his grandfather with a medical emergency at great danger to his own safety.  


The Silver Medal of Valor is the highest decoration that may be awarded to a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. According to CAP Regulation 39-3, the Silver Medal of Valor is awarded to an active Civil Air Patrol member for "distinguished and conspicuous heroic action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of normal duty." Cadet Maxfield is with MER-NC-022, the Burlington Composite Squadron.  Details about his award can be found here https://www.ncwgcap.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=article.display&articleID=628.  Please join me in congratulating this amazing cadet.

Delaware National Guard Change of Command

One of the duties of a commander is to improve relations with other units and organizations.  I was privileged to attend the Delaware National Guard change of command along with Col. Mike Moyer, DEWG commander, Col. Ziggy Bernfeld, former DEWG commander, and Lt. Col. Bob Hotchkiss, DEWG Government Relations Advisor.  Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, USAF, a strong supporter of DEWG and CAP, was sworn in as the first woman Adjutant General in Delaware’s history.  It was a moving ceremony and I know we will continue to do great things with the Delaware National Guard. 

Legislative Day Preparations

Legislative Day is March 2nd.  Your wing commanders and other wing members will be visiting your electing representatives and senators to share our story.  However, even if you can’t be there, you can make a difference by telling our story to their local offices.  There is a saying that all politics are local. Your congressmen and senators want to hear from you, and they have local offices where you can visit.  Developing a local connection can have significant impacts for you and for CAP.  You don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. to be a part of this. 

CAP Command Council

The CAP Command Council will meet on March 3rd and 4th in Crystal City, Virginia.  There is a very aggressive schedule of topics to cover and I look forward to reporting back to you on what is going on around the nation.  The Spaatz Association dinner is March 4th.  I will be there recognizing the cadets who have achieved the highest award in the cadet program.  If you are there please stop by and say hello.

Upcoming Conferences

Let me put a plug in for NATCAP’s upcoming conference on March 11th at JB Andrews https://sites.google.com/a/natcapwg.cap.gov/acab/  and their awards banquet at JB Anacostia - Bolling where Col. Heinlein will relinquish command of the wing.  A week later, the South Carolina Wing will be holding their conference in Columbia, SC, along with a change of command for Col. Francis Smith.  More information on that conference can be found on the SCWG website http://www.scwgcap.org/ and Facebook page.  Obviously I will have a lot to write about after these conferences.

Training Season

We are just getting into the training season, as days get longer and the weather a little better.  Please take the opportunity to get out of the stands and on to the playing field as a qualified and trained emergency services member.  We need trainees in communications, mission base support, air crews and ground teams.  There are a lot of places where you can serve, you just need to ask “what can I do to help?”

National Capitol Wing Commander Selection

Please join me in congratulating Lt Col Janon “JD” Ellis as the next commander of the National Capitol Wing.  Lt Col Ellis joined CAP as a cadet in 1979 with continuous service to date. As a cadet, he served in numerous cadet positions to include cadet commander of the North Miami Cadet Squadron and later the Miami Springs Optimist Cadet Squadron. He earned the Spaatz Award as a member of the Florida Wing and continued to serve CAP after he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force with Texas, Arkansas, and Illinois Wings and served overseas as the commander of the Yokota Cadet Squadron, Japan. JD currently serves as the Vice Commander of the National Capital Wing.  The change of command will take place at the NATCAP Banquet on March 11, 2017

Safety

This uptick in operations tempo also comes with a need for us to keep a close eye on safety.  As we dust off our gear, make sure it is in good condition.  As we review our tasks, lets always keep safety on the top of the check list.  Think, “how can I accomplish this safely in a way that lets us get this done as soon as possible?”  The national Safety Officer’s School is being held in Virginia this year. While space is limited there is room for every wing safety officer to be there.  Check with the MER Safety Officer, Maj. Guy Butts, for more information.

In Conclusion

In closing, let me once more say thank you for your service.  We could not perform the missions that we do for our communities, states and nation without you.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a short piece on Facebook called “The Day After Valentine’s Day.”  The Chaplain Corps asked me to make the post pubic, so if you are on Facebook and have a few minutes, you can read it here -https://www.facebook.com/Jmknow#