Civil Air Patrol marks 74 years of volunteer service

December 1, 2015

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.

New Automated Entry for Fort Belvoir

    MVCS Squadron senior members, cadets, parents, and NATCAP Wing Aircrew:

    The Fort Belvoir Public Affairs office passes on the following important information regarding a new automated system for getting on the base. Please prepare accordingly so you won’t encounter unexpected delays when trying to access the base in the future.

    “Beginning later this month Fort Belvoir will activate the Automated Installation Entry. The system enhances security measures by automating system scans of criminal and terror watch databases.

    The system automates processes that might otherwise be vulnerable to human error, such as missing expired identification cards or driver access restrictions.

    Registering DoD ID cards in the system can be accomplished by two methods. ID card holders may register through the Visitor Center at Tulley Gate or self-register at any gate by scanning the DoD ID card. Self-registrants will experience a brief delay while records are vetted.

    Non-DoD ID card holders must use the Visitor Center at Tulley for initial vetting. Once registered, visitors may scan their valid driver’s license to access the installation.

    At the automated entry pedestal, drivers will present their ID to scan, after successful checks against the databases the signal light will turn green and the arm will lift to allow passage. The arm will return quickly to the down position, preventing a second car from entering. Sensors at the gate are designed to prevent “piggy backing” of vehicles on a single ID card scan.

    Look for a detailed article in this week’s Belvoir Eagle newspaper, on the Belvoir website and at our official facebook page.”

The Man Who Lived in Mount Vernon

MVCS is named after George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  We all know a few things about our first president, but do you know the truth about George Washington?

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.

New Smartphone Look and Feel for MVCS Site

New smartphone appearance for MVCS web site.  Photo by 2d Lt Mark Patrick.
New smartphone appearance for MVCS web site. Photo (screen capture) by 2d Lt Mark Patrick.

Are you a smartphone user?  Do you access the squadron’s web site from your phone?  As our web hosting environment adds improvements, we can pass them on to our members. [Note:  Based on a comment received to this post, this look does not appear when accessing the site via tablet so we did not describe it as a “mobile” look.  Will work toward an improved configuration that carries across all types of mobile devices and will update this post once improvements are complete.]

This change will queue up the most recent news update to the cover page of our site when accessed from your smartphone, with navigation to the usual menus via the icon in the upper right corner of the screen.  This user interface resembles more modern web design as adopted in popular online magazine applications like Flipboard.

The use of smartphones has increased dramatically in parallel to the increase in the use of social media across the planet and across our membership.  For example, our wing’s Facebook page now has over 2,773 followers.  The NatCap Twitter page has 2,100 followers.

The use of social media is a growth area for CAP as discussed by our Chief Operating Officer Mr. Don Rowland in the October-December issue of Volunteer.  Details of how cadets and senior members can participate in this evolution are detailed in CAP’s Brand Resource Guide.  As technology and our membership’s demographics evolve, we must change with them to remain relevant.

According to the Brand Resource Guide, “Branding is the craft and discipline of creating emotional attachments and intellectual associations with our organization. Deliberately shaping these attachments and associations, and then delivering them consistently through every point of contact we have — both internally and externally — will allow Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to build greater brand value.”  As we continue to learn about new technology, techniques, and procedures across our three mission areas, we must also learn how to use social media to create enthusiasm and interest in CAP.  Your public affairs officer will talk to you about social media policy in the near future, but the focus should not be on restricting the use of this technology, but leveraging it to the benefit of our membership, and to attract the best and the brightest to join us in service — and fun.

Enjoy the increased user friendliness that this smartphone user interface provides, but also review the Brand Resource Guide and use this information as you engage your friends and colleagues with social media.  If you have questions or suggestions to improve our online resources, please contact the squadron public affairs officer.

1st Lt Joseph Gruber’s Photo of the Lunar Eclipse Goes Viral

Photo by 1st Lt Joseph Gruber
Lunar eclipse over the U.S. Air Force Memorial on 8 October 2014.
Photo by 1st Lt Joseph Gruber

Our own 1st Lt Joseph Gruber didn’t set out to do anything other than take a cool photo on 8 October 2014, but his handiwork has certainly gained attention.

Gruber’s social media posting led to the Air Force Times picking up the photo along with its parent Military Times.  Click to see the article there.  It was then picked up by CAP’s Volunteer Now.  It certainly helped that the photo was set over the Air Force Memorial.

As the importance of photography increases as part of CAP’s Emergency Services mission, it’s encouraging to see members honing their skills!  You can find plenty of information on CAP’s web site about this part of our mission.  For example, this set of training slides, or this Checklist and Operations Manual for the Nikon D90 Camerat Kit.

 

Cadets Visit NASA Flight Facilities

On November 3rd and 4th, cadets from squadrons in the National Capital Wing traveled to two of NASA’s key locations on the east coast – Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore.

The cadets first toured the visitor center at Goddard.  They viewed exhibits describing many of NASA’s space missions and images of distant galaxies.

“I enjoyed seeing the pictures from the Hubble space telescope,” said Cadet 1st Lt. Nicholas Johnson.

The cadets divided into teams for a scavenger hunt involving many of the exhibits in the visitor center.  This activity was as much about scientific education as it was developing collaborative skills.

“I enjoyed learning on the scavenger hunt with my team, and getting to know my friends better,” said Cadet TSgt. Alexander Johnson.

Outside the visitor center, there was much activity as local young people gathered to launch their own model rockets.  These launches are open to the public on the first Saturday of every month, and the cadets were able to watch them that day.

When asked about the rocket launches, Cadet Airman Nicole Lavin said, “I thought it was interesting to see the model rockets launch and reach such heights.”

Following their visit to Goddard, the cadets traveled to Wallops Island, Va. and spent the night.  The first order of business the next morning was a visit to the sounding rocket operations facility.   NASA engineers were on hand to describe how the rockets and their payloads were built, tested and launched.

The cadets next visited the balloon payload facility.  NASA launches balloons from sites around the world loaded with research equipment to gather data for government and university scientists.   Some of the super pressure balloons reach heights above 100,000 feet and can stay aloft for more than a month.

“I thought it was cool that the balloons could carry 6000 pounds…the same as three cars,” said Cadet Airman Keilie Blood.

Cadet Airman Carol Oordt said her favorite part was the balloons, because she “did not realize that the balloons were used for weather and science studies.”

A highlight of the visit was a tour of mission control.  The cadets were able to sit at the same computer consoles as NASA engineers.  The large screens projected images of rocket launch pads being prepared for their next mission.  A NASA engineer described the sequence of events on launch day and the roles of each member of the team.

“I really enjoyed going to Mission Control because you only see that in movies and we got to see that in person,” said Cadet 2nd Lt. Hunter Harlow.

The two-day trip allowed the cadets to see how NASA takes science and puts it into practice, and even into space.  The roles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in bringing NASA’s vision to reality were quite clear.  In summary, Cadet Airman Anith Muthalaly remarked, “[NASA] advanced technology makes me appreciate STEM more.”

Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol view model rocket launches at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  Photo by 2nd Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol visit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by 1st Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol view model rocket launches at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  Photo by 2nd Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol view model rocket launches at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by 1st Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol view model rocket launches at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  Photo by 2nd Lt. Kevin Geiss.
A NASA engineer describes sounding rocket operations to Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol. Photo by 1st Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol view model rocket launches at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  Photo by 2nd Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Cadets from the National Capital Wing, Civil Air Patrol in the mission control center at NASA Wallops Flight Facility. Photo by 1st Lt. Kevin Geiss.

Veteran Recounts “Black Hawk Down” Story

Twenty years ago this month, the Battle of Mogadishu ensued between U.S. military forces and Somali militiamen aligned with Mohammed Farrah Adid.  The account of that battle is captured in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down”.

Retired Army Col Tom Matthews was there those days, 3 and 4 October, 1993.  Mostly, he was overhead in one of the command and control helicopters and witnessed many of the major events.

Matthews visited the Mount Vernon Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol recently to speak to cadets and volunteer officers about his experience.

“The average American did not know at the time that we were basically at war in Somalia,” said Matthews. “Mr Adid had gone underground.  Finding one person on a city of a million people is an interesting challenge.”

U.S. Special Forces troops entered the city that day to capture a number of Adid’s lieutenants in an effort to draw out Adid.

As is recounted in the book and movie, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down on the first day of fighting.

“We had already conducted 6 missions prior to the 3rd of October.  We had been shot at; nobody killed; only a few injured; very few rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs),” explained Matthews. “But on that day, about 200 RPGs were shot at us.”

The initial rescue operation of the downed crew members was intended to be swift, but what followed was a firefight that lasted through the night.   As a result, 18 U.S. servicemen killed, 80 wounded and one captured.

Matthews explains, “The book is the most accurate account of the battle.  However, the majority of Americans that recall what happened that day are mainly drawing from the events depicted in the movie. “

In spite of the aftermath Matthews maintains, “We accomplished the mission.  We fought, we won that battle, and we recovered our wounded.”

As he wrapped up his presentation, Matthews encouraged the cadets, “It’s important to know your emergency procedures; always take the time to practice them. And, you should talk to others about their experiences, learn from their mistakes, so you don’t make the same mistakes.”

Many cadets walked away with a new appreciation of the heroes that were a part of that battle.

“It was a great honor for our squadron to host Mr. Matthews.  His tale of heroism left a lasting impression on the cadets in our squadron and serves as a source of inspiration for all of us,” said Cadet 1st Lt. James Hildebrand.

Mr. Matthews retired in 2001 after 28 years of military service. He is currently the Director of Special Operations Intelligence Integration in the office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Defense Warfighter Support.

Tom Matthews describes events to CAP cadets regarding the Battle of Mogadishu. Photo by 1st Lt. Kevin Geiss.
Tom Matthews describes events to CAP cadets regarding the Battle of Mogadishu. Photo by 1st Lt. Kevin Geiss.

MVCS Cadets Recognized with Promotions and Awards

On September 26, CAP recognized Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets during the promotion and awards ceremony.

Below are the cadets and their new ranks and awards:

Name Achievement Rank
Kevin Ho Maj Gen John F. Curry C/Amn
Matthew Pidgeon Maj Gen John F. Curry C/Amn
Thomas Pidgeon Maj Gen John F. Curry C/Amn
Austin Croy Mary Feik C/SrA
Jonathan Ruscoe Mary Feik C/SrA
Mary Ruscoe Mary Feik C/SrA
Madeline Johnson Mary Feik C/SrA
Kelia Aardema Wright Brothers Award C/SSgt
Alexander Johnson Capt Eddie Rickenbacker C/TSgt
Josiah Coleman Charles Lindbergh C/MSgt
Thomas Murphy Flight Commander
Kyle Stefanek Administrative Officer C/1st Lt
James Hildebrand Public Affairs Officer
Joseph Frech Cadet Commander

 

Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.
Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadets recognized during promotion and award ceremony. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.

 

 

 

 

Cadet Change of Command

On 26 September 2013 C/Maj Joseph Frech assumed the duties of the Mount Vernon Composite Squadron cadet commander from C/1st Lt James Hildebrand.

C/Maj Frech accepts the duty of Cadet Commander for the Mt Vernon Composite Squadron. Photo by Susan Ruscoe
C/Maj Frech accepts the duty of Cadet Commander for the Mt Vernon Composite Squadron. Photo by Susan Ruscoe.

Mount Vernon Composite Squadron Participates in 12th Annual BridgeWalk

Members of the Mount Vernon Composite Squadron (MVCS) participated in the 12th Annual BridgeWalk in Springfield, Va. on 27 Aug.

The event pays tribute to the Fort Belvoir community and the Army Community Covenant, which signifies the partnership between the installation and Fairfax County residents.

The event also honors the lives lost on 9/11 as well as past and current members of the armed forces.

MVCS cadets, volunteer officers and family members joined the community for this celebration.

MVCS also hosted an outreach booth and passed out information  on Civil Air Patrol, cadet programs and drug demand reduction.

MVCS cadets participate in the 12th Annual BridgeWalk in Springfield, Va. Photo by 1st Lt Kevin Geiss.
MVCS cadets participate in the 12th Annual BridgeWalk in Springfield, Va. Photo by 1st Lt Kevin Geiss.
2d Lt Mark Patrick hands out aerospace education material during community outreach following the BridgeWalk. Photo by 1st Lt Kevin Geiss.
2d Lt Mark Patrick hands out aerospace education material during community outreach following the BridgeWalk. Photo by 1st Lt Kevin Geiss.