The months seem to be getting shorter and shorter and it seems like I just wrote my April commentary, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun! So, this month let’s work our way backwards through all the events going on.
Staring on April 30th, the Senior Advisory Group (CSAG) will be meeting at a retreat in Tennessee to spend three days going through a host of topics. These include everything from finalizing an aircraft allocation matrix to discussing the next cadet physical fitness program. The topics will include many of the same areas that we discussed at the last national command council meeting. (I bet you can see the whole theme thing going on here).
I would like to congratulate C/Lt Col Morgan Edwards of the Annapolis Composite Squadron on earning the Ira C. Eaker Award. I had the privilege of presenting it on the 28th. This is the second Eaker I have presented at this squadron in the last six months. There must be something in the water in Annapolis, or…they just have a great cadet program happening.
For those of you that follow me on Facebook, you probably saw a lot of activity happening on the 23rd to the 26th. My original squadron, the one I was a cadet in - the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron here in Maryland - celebrated its 50th anniversary! It was an awesome four days of celebration and seeing some people that I have not seen in 20 or 30 years. I joined as a cadet in 1972. My first two cadet commanders were there, one is an executive with IBM and the other is a professor of surgery at the Harvard Medical School. Over 100 former members got together at four different events during the weekend. We had folks from California, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Florida and a lot of places in between. One former member, Col James Forand, USAF, who is stationed in Colorado Springs, sent a video message to us. One of his main points was how the foundation for his success in the US Air Force was laid down as a cadet in B-CC.
That same weekend I had the honor of attending the annual Civil Air Patrol Memorial Ceremony at the US Air Force Memorial next to Arlington National Cemetery. The cadets and senior staff from the National Capital Wing did a magnificent job honoring all the CAP members who passed away this last year. Lt Col Dave Sterling was the project officer and the cadet honor guard from the Arlington Composite Squadron did a great job. A number of you may have seen some of the pictures, many of them taken by Col Jane Davies, former DCWG/CC. You may notice that the cadets wore short sleeved service dress. What you can't tell is that it was 50 degrees and windy that morning and they didn't miss a beat. Great job to all those involved.
The week before that I was able to attend the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting and Pacific Region Conference in Seattle, Washington. The wing and region rolled out the red carpet for the senior leadership of CAP. Col Brian Bishop, the PCR/CC, was a magnificent host. Three of the other region commanders were able to attend, along with the BoG and CAP national staff. This was my first full BoG meeting and it was very enlightening. During the conference, the CAP Foundation announced that it has reached its matching goal of $25,000 over a month early to provide flight scholarships for some of this year’s graduates of the national powered flight academies. So, cadets, put your nose to the grindstone and finish at the top of your class for a chance at a $10,000 scholarship to complete your private pilot certificate. There were a number of very informative briefings from the Southwest boarder missions, to Green Flag (surrogate RPA), to the state of CAP from Maj Gen Vazquez, the national commander. You can find more information on this at the national headquarters site.
Maryland Wing completed their compliance inspection (CI) this month and received the grade of "Highly Successful.” This is a testament to the outstanding leadership of Col Bill Parris, Lt Col Joe Winter, and Lt Col Chris Howell and to the hard work of the entire staff. The West Virginia Wing is working feverishly on their CI preparation that is coming up soon. The good news, besides the score, is everyone involved is saying how positive the new CI program is, focusing on finding good things, while helping to also give input on things that could use some work. The old "gottcha" mentality of looking until you find something wrong or nitpicking items is in the past. CIs, as well as Subordinate Unit Inspections, are a commander’s tool for improvement. Our Inspector General, working at the direction of the national commander, has done a lot to improve how we get things measured and accomplished. Let's keep up the great work.
During the announcement of the Middle East Region "Of the Year" awards, I left out a couple of things and it appears I also misspelled a name, although I did get it right on the submission to NHQ. So... in addition to all the announced winners, let me add my apology and congratulations to the West Virginia Wing as the winner of the MER Safety Award and our nominee for the Paul Turner Safety Award. Maj Brian Shatzer from West Virginia Wing was recognized as the MER Safety Officer of the Year. I sent out a special email announcing that the Leesburg Composite Squadron of VAWG, the wing's Squadron of Merit, was selected as the MER Squadron of Distinction for 2015. I want to take a moment to congratulate the following squadrons, each their wing’s choice for Squadron of Merit:
MER-DC-060 Challenger I Cadet Squadron
MER-DE-007 Eagle Cadet Squadron
MER-MD-031 Glenn L Martin Composite Squadron
MER-NC-111 111th Search and Rescue Composite Squadron
MER-SC-115 Beaufort Composite Squadron
MER-WV-020 Martinsburg Composite Squadron
May is a very busy month with a number of major events going on. Starting out, we have the region Chaplain Corp Staff College where our chaplains and Character Development Instructors meet to become better at their jobs. The MER Search and Rescue College at Ft. Picket, is an advanced school for all three aspects of emergency services - air, ground and mission base. Finally, the MER Region Staff College starts off on May 31st and runs through June 6th. Applications for the RSC are still being taken. Find out all about these and other events on our website https://www.mer.cap.gov/.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the SAR College or RSC. Please continue to be safe and, as always, thank you for your service to our nation.
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Middle East Region