Commander's Commentary

Knowles Col2

As volunteer Airmen, our "pay" comes to us in a couple of different ways. Our formal awards and promotion channels is one way. Saving a life or helping to bring closure to a family is another. Serving our community, state and nation and the feeling of pride when we put on our uniform and perform missions for America is one more. The feeling of a job well done at the end of a mission, activity or exercise certainly motivates me. Finally, in terms of these examples, the impact that we have on others by the things we do every day is one of those intangible somewhat nebulous items that is very hard to define. Well, I got a couple of big "pay days" this past weekend.

I had the privilege of attending the Middle East Region (MER) Cadet Competition at Ft Pickett, VA, and presenting the awards to the winners. Seeing eight different teams of exemplary cadets all vying for the chance to represent the region at the National Cadet Competition was inspiring. I got a bonus at the start of the competition when Maj. Ruth Buslinger of MER-VA-023, Danville Composite Squadron, re-introduced herself to me. Her son, former Cadet 1st Lt. Will Buslinger, was a student at the inaugural 2009 Air Force Civil Engineering Academy at the Silver Flag Training Site on Tyndall AFB, Fla. I served as the activity director and with a staff of three other senior members and an Air Force Reservist rolled out a brand new special activity to 20 cadets. She shared with me that Will is now in his senior year of college working on his Civil Engineering degree and that he was inspired to pursue a career in the industry after he spent a week at this CAP National Cadet Special Activity. This is the "pay" that keeps a lot of us focused on working with cadets. Cadets, this is a reminder that you have one of the best career exploration programs available to you through the NCSA's that CAP provides to you. When the opportunity to apply for them opens up in a month or so, apply to them. You may find your future, courtesy of the CAP cadet program.

We had eight teams at Ft. Pickett. They were:

  • DCWG: Arlington Composite Squadron
  • DEWG: Delaware Air National Guard Cadet Squadron
  • MDWG: Bethesda-Chevy Case Composite Squadron
  • NCWG 1: Raleigh-Wake Composite Squadron
  • NCWG 2: Fayetteville Composite Squadron
  • VAWG 1: Danville Composite Squadron
  • VAWG 2: Coastal Composite Squadron
  • WVWG: Charleston Cadet Squadron

The Director of the Cadet Competition was Lt. Col. Phyllis Griffin. She was assisted by: Col. Ray Harris, Col. Gene Egry, Col. Ray Lyon, Lt. Col. Dan Brodsky, Lt. Col. Jett Mayhew, Lt. Col. Jay Langley, Maj. Guy Butts, Maj. Rose Reeder, Capt. Sean Green, 1st Lt. Eric Muse and SFO Cole Ettingoff.

It was a very tight competition with a large number of ties. In the end the two teams that will represent the MER in December at Maxwell AFB for the national competition are North Carolina Wing (NC-048-Raleigh-Wake Composite) and Virginia Wing (VA-095 - Coastal Composite). Congratulations to the cadets and seniors from these two teams and to the other six teams who won their home wing's cadet competition and competed at the region level. They all did a great job.

Last month I listed all the winners honored at the CAP Conference in Orlando. I left off, due to the size of my commentary, the list of the Balsem Award winners for 2015. The Balsem award is presented annually to public affairs officers for outstanding entries in nine different public affairs categories.   The MER had 13 winners!

Category Award Name Wing Project
Brochure/Poster Balsem Capt Alice Raatjes- Carroll Comp. MDWG Open House
External Media Coverage Balsem Lt Jimmy Kelly - Prince Wm Comp VAWG WAA
External Media Coverage Balsem Lt Gregory Morgan - Lynchburg Comp VAWG Training Exc.
External Media Coverage Excellence Lt Col Chris Roche - MDWG HQ MDWG 2014 Tri-Wing
External Media Coverage Merit Lt Jimmy Kelly - Prince Wm Comp VAWG WAA Fact Sheet
Photography Merit Lt Gregory Morgan - Lynchburg Comp VAWG WAA
Slide/PowerPoint Merit Capt Alice Raatjes- Carroll Comp. MDWG 2014 Wing Conf.
Social Media Balsem Lt Gregory Morgan - Lynchburg Comp VAWG Everyday Hero
Social Media Balsem Capt Alice Raatjes- Carroll Comp. MDWG Facebook Page
Website Excellence Capt Gregory Fletcher- Fredericksburg VAWG Unit Website
Website Excellence Lt Gregory Morgan - Lynchburg Comp VAWG Site Redesign
Website Merit Lt Jimmy Kelly - Prince Wm Comp VAWG Unit Website
Website Merit Capt Alice Raatjes- Carroll Comp. MDWG Group II Site

Please join me in congratulating these hard working Public Affairs Officers who work every day getting out the message about our great organization.

This past month I received a letter in the mail addressed to Col. John Knowles, MER Commander. In it was a short note that was signed "A CAP Mom.” "CAP Mom" asked me to consider modifying the recruiting contest to have two categories, one for cadet recruiters and one for senior member recruiters. Who am I to say no to a CAP Mom, so we will select a cadet recruiter and a senior member recruiter to be my guest at the MER Conference in May. The recruiter can recruit anyone (cadet or senior) to earn credit.

So far, since I announced the contest starting 1 July, the region has recruited an additional 162 new members. In fact I am pleased to say that for the first time since I took command in October of 2014 all the colors on the MER Commander's Dashboard for membership are blue (the best color and it indicates anything above 100%). The next best color is green, which indicates holding steady (99.6 to 100.5%). Every wing in the region, looking at short- term goals (compared to this time last quarter) are green or blue. Great job to everyone who is working to keep us strong. The leading recruiters in the MER so far, are:

SM Timothy Bagnell, NC-150, with 4 new members and a tie between C/Amn Caleb Mize, NC-150, and C/A1C  Cherie Cheyenne Carson, NC-019 with 3 new members. There are two other seniors with 3 new members and 17 more members with 2. Keep up the recruiting. The contest will end on April 1st in order to allow the winners time to register for the conference.

I have confirmation that the CAP/CC Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez and the CAP/CV Brig. Gen. Larry Myrick will both be at our conference. Rumor has it that the CAP/XO Col. Larry Ragland is seriously thinking about it. One of the sessions at the conference will be an open "Ask the Commander" forum for you to ask anything you want to myself or any other members of the CSAG or BoG that will be at the conference.

The region is having a staff retreat in October and a Wing Commander's retreat in November to put some finishing touches on our training plans and establish goals for each staff section and wing. Many of you have heard me talk about the importance of planning and the need to have SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based) goals. How do we know where we are going without a plan and how will we know that we have arrived without a goal? These plans and goals will find their way to your squadrons over the next year. The only way we accomplish any mission is with the individual member where the rubber meets the road. Your input is important and you should provide ideas and feedback to your commanders. We want to hear from you so speak up!

In case you missed it, the US Air Force celebrated its 68th birthday with a huge air show at Joint Base Andrews. This major event for the Air Force leadership and general public included a major presence by the Civil Air Patrol. NATCAP took the lead on the event and was supported by Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia Wing along with Congressional Squadron. CAP had 11 aircraft, including several from Northeast Region. Tens of thousands of visitors spent Saturday at the show. Col. Bruce Heinlein served as the IC, assisted by Lt. Col. Wes LaPre. Capt Roland Wright, an active duty Airman at JBA, served as the liaison to the base and CAP. I was able to be there Friday and Saturday and was joined by Maj. Gen. Vazquez. We supplied 180 Airmen to assist the Air Force with the show. The air show commander came by several times during the event to thank CAP for all the help we provided all across the show. Thanks to everyone who worked the show - we really shined!

Let me circle back to end this by starting back at the beginning of the month. Teri and I had the honor of presenting the Ira C. Eaker award to C/Lt. Col. Nichole Orr of the Martinsburg Composite Squadron on September 6th at the squadron’s awards ceremony. In addition to this award, the Gen. Carl A Spaatz Award was presented to C/Col. Nathan Worley by US Senator Joe Manchin, the former Governor of the state of West Virginia. The Amelia Earhart Award was presented to C/Capt. Angel Webb and the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award was presented to C/2d Lts. Christian Gray Stinar and David T. Hayes. Other cadet promotions and awards went to C/CMSgt Dylan W. Boyd , C/SSgt Dane E Smith and C/A1C Rebekah Johnson. The master of ceremonies for the event was our own vice commander Col. Dennis Barron and the Region Chief of Staff Col. Gene Egry also attended. The WVWG commander Col. Paul McCrosky did the honors for the Earhart and he was joined by the WVWG Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Connie Moody. The squadron did a marvelous job hosting us at the airport and the pride they have in their squadron and its members is well deserved. Thanks for the invitation and the hospitality.


Middle East Region, Civil Air Patrol