Commander's Commentary

Wow, what a month December was for the Civil Air Patrol! We started out on December 1st celebrating our 73rd birthday and then rolled into one of the busiest weeks we have had for CAP in a long time. The Board of Governors met in DC over a two-day period to discuss a number of items. On the 10th the CAP's original men and women who answered our nation’s call to service during WWII were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM). Only 154 have been presented and the first one was presented to George Washington by the US Congress. It is the highest civilian award presented by Congress. The week ended with tens of thousands gathered at Arlington National Cemetery and other veterans’ cemeteries to honor, remember and teach about those service men and women buried at these hallowed sites.


The BoG meeting included several briefings very similar to what I shared with you last month so I won't go into detail a second time. They did change the job title for Col. Ragland to Executive Officer from Chief of Staff. This was due to the realignment to one staff (paid and volunteer) under CAP's new governance structure. In addition there were briefings on the ongoing studies concerning CAP's aircraft fleet size and the possible re-alignment for CAP to Air Combat Command (1AF) from the Air Education and Training Command. Based on the briefing there is a very high probability that this change will eventually occur.


I previously sent out a thank you note for all those involved in the ceremony and dinner honoring our WWII veterans with the CGM. It was, without a doubt, one of the most moving events I have had the privilege to witness. The accolades from the former members, their families, and others who attended the events continue to pour into NHQ. The support that came from all of you for this event was amazing and it made me extremely proud. It was a magical day.


The week closed out for me with Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery. We had over 200 CAP members participating across multiple missions. Lt. Col. JD Ellis did another fantastic job as the project officer for the event. Lt. Col. Jason Secrest served as the incident commander for the field support for coordinating the distribution of over 226,000 wreaths. The MER Honor Guard, headed up by Lt. Col. Max Benbow, did a superb job honoring all those service members buried at Arlington. Maj. Gen. Vazquez and Brig. Gen. Myrick, along with USAF Lt. Gen. McLaughlin made numerous special presentations all day long during the ceremonies. If you have never participated in WAA you should find the time next year to attend. It is a great way to honor our veterans.


We did have our first regularly scheduled commanders call for the wings of the MER on the 18th. We are using a system that allows notes from our meetings to be published for all of you. Look for them soon on the MER website. Speaking of the MER website, our new one is slated to go live in January. It will be a lot more up to date and functional. The MER/IT staff, headed up by Capt. Aaron Newman, has been hard at work getting it ready for its debut. You may also have noticed a sudden uptick in the number of posting on our Facebook page. Our new Public Affairs Officer, Maj. Brenda Reed, is on a mission to spread the word about all things CAP across the region. Check it out!


One of the many great things about being your region commander is the opportunity to visit squadrons and hand out awards. I was invited to the Prince William Composite Squadron to present an Eaker Award to Cadet Lt. Col. Elena Shriner. I was joined by Col. Covel, the VAWG Commander, who presented two Earhart Awards as well. Following the ceremony Col. Covel and I had the chance to chat informally with all the members of the unit and their families. Thanks to the leadership of the squadron for their hospitality and the great work they are doing preparing their cadets to be the future leaders of our country.


I also need to thank all of you for completing the annual inventory on time. There are 150 units in the MER. Every one of them had to complete four separate inventories, even if they did not have anything to inventory. This is an important part of demonstrating to the Air Force and our auditors that we are good stewards of the public's trust. Unit commanders, logistics officers, communications officers, and administrators as well as anyone who had equipment assigned to them helped push this task across the finish line. We were not the first region to finish but we did finish it near the top (not that anyone is keeping score). Great job to all who helped!


I hope that all of you had a safe and joyful holiday season. I know I did. As we start out this year let’s continue to work together to make our squadrons, groups, wings, and region the best in CAP. We belong to an amazing organization with a long and distinguished history. Let's make 2015 the greatest year for safety, growth, mission readiness and mission effectiveness. Thank you for your service to our nation.


Please join me in congratulating the following members for their outstanding achievement in October and November:


Gill Robb Wilson Award

Lt. Col. Larry K. Nelson, SC


Paul E. Garber Award

Lt. Col. Robert A. Hotchkiss, DE

Maj. Brian A. Crist, DE

Maj. David P. Fitchitt, NC

Capt. Brendan P. Kearns, NC

Capt. Joel Lipsey, NC

Maj. Robert L. Albert, SC

Maj. Bruce W. Brown, SC

Maj. Jeffrey A. Van Etten, VA


Grover C. Loening Award

Capt. John R. Cannarella, DE

Capt. James J. Colgan, DE

Maj. Robert B. Dickey, MD

Capt. Elizabeth R. Roberts, MD

Maj. Brett E. Benson, NC

Capt. Kathleen M. Nicholas, NC

Maj. Alfred B. Cole, SC

Capt. David W. Brumbalow, SC

Capt. Larry W. Monday, SC

1st Lt. Gregory J. Fletcher, VA

Capt. Frank M. Panek, WV


Gen. Ira C. Eaker Award

Bart D. Bartgis, MD

Sean R. Peting, NC

Elena C.  Shriner, VA


Amelia Earhart Award

Randall H. Kirby, DC

Austin M. Dillow, MD

Wyatt J. Hartman, MD

Aaron M. Scanlan, MD

Jonathan P. Yerger, MD

Christian P. Chorbajian, MD

Joshua T. Travis, NC

Nicholas A. Williams, NC

Stephen A. Moore, NC

Maura G. Carlson, VA


Gen. Billy Mitchell Award

Gabriel C. Abbe, DC

Robert H. Hoover, DE

Ashley A. Hum, MD

Lauren M. Mann, MD

Nolan P. McEleney, MD

Neelesh M. Shrestha, MD

Hazen D. Ham, NC

Riaz S. Lane, NC

Benjamin L. Phillips, NC

Jacob A. Bennington, NC

Pierce W. Brelinsky, NC

Hannah E. Fletcher, NC

Caleb A. Freeman, NC

Brick T. Ingle, NC

Jonathan T. Pruett, SC

Mici M. Cummings, VA

Justin P. Dailey, VA

Micah D. Pratt, VA

Justin R. Sweat, VA

Scott W. Zieger, VA

Benjamin D. Goss, VA

Zachary  M. Mumma, VA

Joseph E. Powell,  VA

Andrew J. Burget, WV

William B. Haden, WV



Col John M. Knowles, CAP

Middle East Region Commander