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.
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.
Col. Bruce Heinlein was our squadron’s guest of honor at Thursday’s cadet meeting during which three awardees were recognized.
Cadet Capt. Clare Porter received the Earhart Award which marks the transition of the cadet from the command phase to the executive phase of the cadet officer corps. Porter’s promotion to cadet captain accompanies this award. Perhaps no name is as symbolic of aerospace achievement as Amelia Earhart. In 1928, she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air. She disappeared in 1937 near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean while trying to circumnavigate the world in a twin engine Lockheed Electra. Her disappearance is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century.
Cadet Sr. Airman Ryan Porter was awarded the Mary Feik Achievement, CAP’s third achievement, which is accompanied by promotion to cadet senior airman. Mary Feik is an amazing aviator whose contributions to CAP are legendary. More on her background was covered in a recent post on our site, which includes an informative video produced by another CAP unit.
Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Michael Brokate received the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) NCO of the Year Award. We were honored to have the Command Chief of the National Capital Wing, Chief Master Sergeant Denny Orcutt, make this presentation. In 1961, four men established AFSA to become a beacon for advocating quality of life concerns affecting the Air Force Enlisted Corps. AFSA now has seven divisions and 130 chapters across the globe.
Following the presentation of awards, Col. Heinlein, the NATCAP Wing commander and a former commander of Mount Vernon Composite Squadron, made remarks to the cadet formation and their guests in attendance. Afterward, the cadets were dismissed to enjoy refreshments with one another and their families. Finally, Col. Heinlein and CMSgt. Orcutt held separate meetings with cadet officers and NCOs to field questions and discuss current CAP issues.
If you’re new to CAP, or if you’re just watching from the sidelines, and you’ve never heard of Col. Mary Feik, watch this and be inspired.
This video is provided by Lt. Col. Mike Cramer, Civil Air Patrol, Colorado Springs Cadet Squadron, Group 3, Colorado Wing, Rocky Mountain Region. Many thanks to the Colorado Wing for putting this video in the public domain. From its YouTube location, the following text is provided:
“Mary S. Feik is an aviation engineer, master mechanic, pilot, instructor and aircraft restorer. She has received many awards and honors in her storied career and is a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol.
Col. Mary Feik is a national treasure who has the biggest heart we know. She is 100 percent devoted to CAP and every cadet who has worn and continues to wear the uniform. She has the solid gold Presidential pin to prove it! Every year she tries to visit as many cadets as she can to share her amazing story. For those who have not had the honor and privilege to meet her and receive a personally autographed Feik achievement certificate, this video is the next best thing. She’ll tell you to follow her dad’s advice, ‘Aim high and follow your dreams … because it worked for me!’
Of course, this movie would not have been possible without the hundreds of hours volunteered by our own CAP senior member and movie producer, Ed Flanagan. Ed is the owner and producer of the Manitou Motion Picture Co. in Colorado Springs. He is a first-class guy who delivered a first-class movie!”
Civil Air Patrol turns 74 today, with its 58,000 members poised to celebrate their rich heritage of volunteer service.
“What a year it has been!” exclaimed Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, CAP’s national commander and chief executive officer.
“Last December, shortly after our 73rd anniversary, Civil Air Patrol was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of our World War II veterans from America’s Greatest Generation,” Vazquez said. “The Capitol Hill celebration of the extraordinary contributions of these founding members of CAP showcased our proud legacy of sacrifice and service.”
CAP was founded Dec. 1, 1941, less than a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led to America’s involvement in World War II. Its members quickly proved their worth by conducting aerial patrols on their own, heroism that discouraged and eventually stopped deadly German U-boat attacks along U.S. coastlines and waterways. The wartime service of CAP’s “subchasers” helped stop the loss of American and Allied merchant vessels, saving the lives of untold thousands of sailors and countless millions of dollars of war materiel destined for the battlefields in Europe and the Pacific.
In addition to coastal patrols, CAP aircrews assisted with other essential wartime missions on the home front, such as search and rescue, disaster relief, border patrol, forest fire patrol, target towing for military practice and transporting critical supplies. Members also managed hundreds of airports and trained aviators – many of them cadets – for future service in CAP and the military.
That legacy lives on in today’s all-volunteer force, which still contributes greatly to America’s defense by providing aerial reconnaissance for homeland security, giving Air Force fighter pilots practice in protecting America’s airspace and helping train U.S. military troops for service overseas.
CAP members also make a profound difference in more than 1,500 communities across the nation, saving lives through search and rescue and other emergency services and conducting aerospace education and youth programs that help develop the nation’s next generation of leaders.
Civil Air Patrol’s contributions to national defense were recognized in August when the U.S. Air Force added the longtime Air Force Auxiliary to its Total Force team. Changes to Air Force doctrine officially made Civil Air Patrol a strategic partner of the Air Force and CAP members “Airmen” when conducting Air Force-assigned missions.
The 74th anniversary observance includes an annual “CAP Sunday” activity in which chaplains, character development officers and other members are encouraged to wear their uniforms to their place of worship. The activity is scheduled for the upcoming weekend, Dec. 4-6.
What made George Washington the profoundly effective leader that he was? That’s the question the makers of this eight minute video asked Doug Bradburn, the founding director of Mount Vernon’s Fred W. Smith National Library.
In this episode of the Grateful American™ TV Show, co-hosts David Bruce Smith and Hope Katz Gibbs interview the specialist on Washington, and you’ll be fascinated by the insights that Bradburn provides about the man behind the myth.