On Thursday evening, the commander of NATCAP Wing, Col. Janon (J. D.) Ellis, lingered after the wing aircrew meeting to present MVCS commander, Lt. Col. William (Bill) Eliason with a certificate commemorating his completion of a significant CAP leadership milestone.
According to the official CAP fact sheet, “the Gill Robb Wilson Award is Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) highest award for senior member professional development. It recognizes senior members who have dedicated themselves to leadership and personal development in the CAP. This award was first given in 1964 and honors the late Gill Robb Wilson. He is regarded as the founder of Civil Air Patrol and served as CAP’s first executive officer.”
Ellis noted that these certificates are numbered. Eliason’s receipt of the award represents the 3,514th time it has been presented since 1964.
Last Thursday night Lt. Col. Tom McGrath presided at our regular squadron meeting. Lt. Col. Terry Pricer presented a safety brief on seasonal topics. McGrath presented an aerospace education video covering the basic aerodynamics concepts of lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Here is that video (approximately 30 minutes) if you missed the meeting, or are interested:
A number of new senior attendees were introduced and McGrath convened a question and answer session following the training presentations to answer any questions prospective members might have about CAP.
Our cadets then formed for a promotion and awards ceremony presided over by Capt. Joseph Murphy.
On July 15, a group of cadets from Mount Vernon Composite Squadron conducted a rocketry event that turned out to be a great learning experience for all.
Under the leadership of 1st Lt. Timothy Buchanan who organized the event, Capt. Jimmy Kavanagh, the deputy commander for cadets, six cadets and the squadron chaplain, the group enjoyed a few hours of fun and aerospace education focused on rockets.
It is noteworthy that C/MSgt Heros Avedissian’s two stage rocket was the only two stage rocket that was launched and recovered successfully. It was carrying a payload consisting of a small Oscar trophy inside that was launched skyward and landed successfully. The team appreciated the experience and learned a great deal, so much so that the cadets are planning on having another rocketry event in September. They expect it to be even better organized and include more cadets. [Update: the next planned rocketry outing is expected to be November 4, 2017.]
CAP’s Model Rocketry program is an achievement program for cadets interested in the science, technology, and flight of model rockets. The program begins with simple alternative-power models and progressively challenges cadets to construct more advanced models in three stages.
The Redstone Stage reviews the history of rocketry and its great pioneers, to include Robert Goddard and Werhner Von Braun.
The Titan Stage details the physical laws which govern objects on the Earth, in the air and in space above us.
The Saturn Stage presents information on trigonometry for altitude tracking, and physics of impulse and thrust associated with solid rocket engines.
Cadets who complete the written and performance requirements for each of the 3 stages, as certified by their unit commander, will be awarded the Cadet Model Rocketry Badge.
A change of command is a significant event in the life of a squadron. For Mount Vernon Composite Squadron, Thursday night was doubly significant because the squadron and cadet commanders both changed. NATCAP Wing Commander, Col. J.D. Ellis was on hand to officiate as Lt. Col. Brian “Irish” Porter surrendered the guidon to him, symbolizing the moment during which command is relinquished. In his opening remarks, Ellis discussed the sacrifices associated with volunteering, but in the end he stated, “somebody has to command.” Ellis referred to Mount Vernon Composite Squadron as “our operational hub” as it is in a critical geographic area in which the wing aircraft are stationed. As Ellis introduced Porter to make his departing remarks, he praised him for managing to handle the responsibilities of his active duty Air Force job, his family, and CAP leadership responsibilities, questioning how such a thing was possible. As Porter opened, he responded immediately to the wing commander stating that, “the support I receive from my family is why I was able to do it.”
Highlights from the citation that accompanied the CAP Region Commander’s Commendation Award detail that from January 1, 2016, to March 5, 2017, Porter distinguished himself both as Deputy Commander for Cadets, and Commander, Mount Vernon Composite Squadron. He served as the 2016 Tri-Wing Encampment Commander of Cadets, leading a training staff of 45 cadets and senior members, serving 200 attendees and qualifying 177 in basic first aid. Four search and rescue exercises were conducted under his tenure and Porter served as the ground branch director for NATCAP Wing’s U.S. Air Force graded mission evaluation during which all targets in the field were located. He drove a 20% increase in cadet orientation flights, supervised an overhaul of the squadron’s records and oversaw the 2017 Subordinate Unit Inspection resulting in a grade of “successful.” Upon hearing the citation read, Porter was quick to give complete credit to all the squadron’s members.
Porter will retire from the U.S. Air Force within the next couple of months and move with his family to Anchorage, Alaska where he will work as a civilian flight instructor.
Lt. Col. William Eliason hails from another squadron within the NATCAP wing, but as a Fairfax County Mount Vernon District resident, Eliason was keen to answer the call to MVCS command upon Porter’s departure. In his remarks, Eliason spoke highly of the squadron having seen first hand its high standards of performance while serving as the lead inspector for NATCAP Wing during the 2017 Subordinate Unit Inspection. Upon assuming command, Eliason was also presented with the Paul E. Garber Award for completing level IV of the Senior Member Professional Development Program, as well as the NATCAP Commander’s certificate. Eliason pledged to uphold the standards set by Porter, and to make every effort to take the squadron to the next level. Having assumed command, he immediately began his duties by presiding over the cadet change of command.
Cadet 1st Lt. Harrison Cox passed the cadet command guidon to Eliason, relinquishing command as he prepares to leave the area and attend Old Dominion University in the fall. Eliason remarked that ODU was where he had received his Ph.D. degree in the past. Cox served as the cadet commander from May 1, 2016, to May 25, 2017. He served as the 2016 Tri-Wing Encampment Deputy Chief of Logistics. For his service, Cox was awarded the MVCS Veterans of Foreign Wars Cadet Officer of the Year, and the CAP Achievement Award.
According to the certificate accompanying his award, Cox’s “focus on cadet-led instruction coupled with ‘hands on’ activities, alongside two informal social events aimed at building morale and a greater sense of squadron identity, made a lasting impact on the unit.” He pursued qualification as a Ground Team Member, Mission Radio Operator, and Mission Staff Assistant. Outside of CAP he served his community as a production assistant for Acting for Young People where he taught youth the fundamentals of acting and assisted with five stage productions per semester. Cox was selected to attend American Legion Virginia Boys State, where he distinguished himself by being elected as city mayor. He maintained a 3.82 GPA, was inducted into the National Society of High School Scholars, and was awarded two varsity letters as a member of a cross country conference champion team.
The new cadet commander, Cadet 2nd Lt. Michael Brokate gave brief remarks upon assuming command. He gave his welcome to attendees and guests, thanked the cadets and Cox for their service. Finally, he called the cadets to continue with the high standards of performance that have become hallmarks of Mount Vernon Composite Squadron’s cadets. Following his remarks, Brokate immediately began his duties, joined by the Deputy Commander for Cadets, presenting several awards to cadets. Following the change of command and award ceremony, squadron members and their guests gathered to enjoy refreshments and socialize, celebrating yet another long list of Mount Vernon Composite Squadron milestones.
On April 13th, senior members gathered for training at Davison Army Airfield. Among the events ocurring that evening were routine safety training, and specialized training on the operation of the CAP Technisonic FM radio. Installed in CAP aircraft, these radios are used by aircrews to communicate with other CAP aircraft, ground teams, and mission base during exercises and real world operations. The combination of knobs, buttons, and switches on this radio is complex and CAP volunteers who may not use the radio on a frequent basis benefit from occasional review and instruction on settings, tips, and best practices that will keep communications flowing smoothly during CAP missions.
On April 27th, senior members again came together for training. Lt Col Lou Volchansky presented instruction on search and rescue flight patterns used by CAP aircrews during emergency services missions. Volchansky discussed altitude, airspeeds, flap configurations, track spacing, scanning techniques, as well as the specific reasons a particular search pattern should be chosen based upon weather and other conditions. Whether members are working toward initial aircrew qualifications, or are seasoned veterans, review of these procedures is essential for keeping skills sharp.
Later that same evening, Mount Vernon cadets stood in formation for a promotion and awards ceremony. Capt James Kavanagh, the squadron’s deputy commander for cadets, presided over the ceremony during which four cadets were promoted and several were recognized for participation in the annual Wreaths Across America event.
On Thursday evening at Davison Army Airfield, four MVCS cadets were recognized and promoted at a squadron ceremony.
Cadets Stephen Gordon and Dien Dewever earned the Wright Brothers Award which is accompanied by promotion to Cadet Staff Sergeant. This award is part of what Civil Air Patrol calls the “Learning Phase,” or Phase I. Cadet Zachary Namiotka completed the Charles Lindbergh Achievement, accompanied by promotion to Cadet Master Sergeant. This is the second achievement in Phase II, the “Leadership Phase.” Finally, Cadet Leilani Kavanagh earned the Earhart Award, accompanied by the final promotion in Phase III, the “Command Phase,” to Cadet Captain.
Parents, family members and MVCS senior members were present for the ceremony. As each awardee marched front and center to be recognized and have new collar devices pinned on by parents, Cadet Major Clare Porter, who served as master of ceremonies, explained the significance of each award. Civil Air Patrol cadet awards are named after individuals who have accomplished great things in the field of aviation. More details can be found online via CAP’s “Stripes to Diamonds” page.
On Thursday evening the wing aircrew meeting occurred as usual at Davison Army Airfield. At the same time, a cadre of wing inspectors arrived to go through the Mount Vernon Composite Squadron’s key programs.
Subordinate Unit Inspections (SUIs) are conducted by region, wing or group headquarters on units subordinate to their headquarters. A wing may conduct an SUI on a group, squadron or flight within the wing. Likewise, a group headquarters may conduct an SUI on a squadron or flight within the group. Specific details about scheduling and conducting Inspector General inspections, Staff Assistance Visits, SUIs and Self-Assessments are described in CAPR 123-3.
The program exists to protect the CAP organization by ensuring the various laws, rules, policies and agreements governing CAP programs are complied with. The program also helps its members meet the demands of CAP’s many rules, regulations and policies.
CAP personnel are volunteers, most of whom lead very busy professional and personal lives. These inspections insure that assets ultimately provided by the U.S. tax payer, as well as the many volunteers that make up the organization’s workforce, are handled consistently in the best possible way. To ease the administrative burden of inspection programs, the wing has gradually moved most record keeping online, “to the cloud,” so that members can access information remotely, from home or office, or even on their smartphones and tablets.
Last night Mount Vernon Composite Squadron met for a busy evening of training followed by a traditional change of command and awards ceremony for cadets.
Prior to the ceremony, the seniors met for aircrew training and were joined by the cadets for a series of safety presentations covered by Lt. Col. Terry Pricer, the squadron’s safety officer, who addressed winter weather, jumping your car’s battery, safety mishap reporting, operational risk management and more.
Following training, the seniors joined the cadets and a large group of friends and family to witness the cadet change of command during which C/Maj. Clare Porter passed the guidon to C/1st Lt. Harrison Cox. For her service as cadet commander, Porter received the Commander’s Commendation Award for Outstanding Performance. Porter made remarks to the cadets and assembled guests, expressing her thanks for the support and mentoring she received during her tenure as commander. Vice Commander of the National Capital Wing, Lt. Col. J. D. Ellis was on hand to make the award presentation. Deputy Commander for Cadets, Capt. Travis Owens, presided over the entire ceremony.
Following the change of command, three cadets were presented with the cadet recruiter ribbon which is earned for bringing two or more new cadets or senior members to the squadron. Additionally, three cadets were promoted to C/Amn (Maj. Gen. John F. Curry Achievement), two to C/A1C (H. H. “Hap” Arnold Achievement), and two to C/SrA (Mary Feik Achievement). C/MSgt Nathan McCale traded his chevrons for those with the C/1st Sgt’s silver diamond. Following the ceremony, the cadets and senior members enjoyed a reception to celebrate their accomplishments and the health and camaraderie of the squadron.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the squadron commander, Lt. Col. Brian Porter, expressed his thanks for the wonderful turnout of parents, friends, and family who came to support the cadet’s ceremony.
The public will be able to eavesdrop Dec. 24 as Civil Air Patrol helps the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) track Santa Claus. The NORAD Santa Tracker website will provide a link allowing parents and children worldwide to listen to audio from CAP’s national radio nets as they support Santa’s epic journey.
Listeners will hear CAP radio operators across the country report local weather conditions and other factors that could affect Santa’s flight operations and navigation. The radio messages will be addressed to North Pole Mission Base.
At least seven CAP national net control stations will be managing net operations and providing periodic updates on Santa’s location. The CAP stations will begin Santa reports at 7 p.m. Eastern and 4 p.m. Pacific time. The stations will remain on the air until at least midnight.
“The HF radio systems CAP is using for the Santa Track net are an important resource,” said Malcolm Kyser, CAP’s chief of communications. “During emergency service and disaster relief operations when telephones and Internet may not be working, CAP’s volunteers routinely use radio to report damage assessment, conduct aerial photography and perform other essential missions.”