Senior and Cadet changes of command and awards

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.”

Col. J.D. Ellis accepts the squadron guidon from Lt. Col. Brian Porter. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.

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.

Col. J.D. Ellis passes the command guidon to Lt. Col. William Eliason. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.

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.

Lt. Col. William Eliason accepts the cadet command guidon from C/1Lt Harrison Cox. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.

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.

The official party for the change of command and award ceremony. From right to left: C/2d Lt Michael Brokate, C/1Lt Harrison Cox, Capt. James Kavanagh (Deputy Commander for Cadets), Lt. Col. William Eliason, Lt. Col. Brian Porter, Col. J.D. Ellis. Photo by Lt Col. Mark Patrick.
The official party for the change of command and award ceremony. From right to left: C/2d Lt Michael Brokate, C/1Lt Harrison Cox, Capt. James Kavanagh (Deputy Commander for Cadets), Lt. Col. William Eliason, Lt. Col. Brian Porter, Col. J.D. Ellis. Photo by Lt Col. Mark Patrick.
Lt. Col. William Eliason passes the cadet command guidon to Cadet 2nd Lt. Michael Brokate. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/Amn Cyrus Odvina is promoted for earning the Curry Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/Amn Emile Richoux is promoted for earning the Curry Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/SrAmn Christopher Pease is promoted for earning the Mary Feik Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/SrA Christopher Pease is promoted for earning the Mary Feik Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/TSgt Stephan Gordon is promoted for earning the Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/TSgt Stephen Gordon is promoted for earning the Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/TSgt Ryan Kilby is promoted for earning the Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/TSgt Ryan Kilby is promoted for earning the Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/TSgt Dien Dewever is promoted for earning the Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/TSgt Dien Dewever is promoted for earning the Eddie Rickenbacker Achievement. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/MSgt Ryan Porter is presented a CAP Achievement Award. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick by Col. J.D. Ellis.
C/MSgt Ryan Porter is presented a CAP Achievement Award. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick by Col. J.D. Ellis.

MVCS Starts New Year with Cadet Change of Command and Awards Ceremony

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.

Lt. Col. J. D. Ellis, Vice Commander of the National Capital Wing presented C/Maj. Clare Porter with the Commander’s Commendation Award for service as MVCS cadet commander. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
Deputy Commander for Cadets Capt. Travis Owens passes the guidon to C/1st Lt. Nathan Cox. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.

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.

C/MSgt Andrew Cameron, C/MSgt Nathan McHale and S/SrA Stephen Gordon earned the recruiter ribbon. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.

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.

A family member affixes C/Amn Bluestein's collar device. New C/Amn Bevel, in the foreground, awaits promotion as his brother is also being promoted to C/Amn. Photo by Lt. Col. Patrick.
A family member affixes C/Amn Bluestein’s collar device. New C/Amn Bevel, in the foreground, awaits promotion while his brother is also being promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Patrick.
C/A1C Christopher Hamilton is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/A1C Christopher Hamilton is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/A1C Christopher Pease is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/A1C Christopher Pease is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/SrA Jon Rosa has collar devices pinned on by his father. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/SrA Jon Rosa is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/SrA Ryan Kilby is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
C/SrA Ryan Kilby is promoted. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
New cadet commander, C/1st Lt. Harrison Cox, pins 1st Sgt device on C/MSgt Nathan McHale while Capt. Travis Owens (foreground) explains the significance of the position to those assembled. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
The insignia pinned on the collar of C/MSgt Nathan McHale.

Squadron Change of Command

Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky passes the guidon to Col. Bruce Heinlein. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.
Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky passes the guidon to Col. Bruce Heinlein. Photo by Lt. Col. Mark Patrick.

This evening at Fort Belvoir, the commander of the National Capital Wing, Col. Bruce Heinlein, presided over a change of command ceremony. In front of a cadet formation and assembled senior members, Col. Heinlein extolled Mount Vernon Composite Squadron’s performance, and the outstanding work of Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky who has had command for 25 months. Volchansky was presented the CAP Commander’s Commendation Award prior to the traditional passing of the squadron guidon.

The departing squadron commander and the new commander, Lt. Col. Brian “Irish” Porter, both delivered remarks during the ceremony.

Lt. Col. Volchansky is an instructor pilot with CAP, and a retired U. S. Air Force officer.  Lt. Col. Porter is an active duty officer in the U. S. Air Force and prior to taking command of Mount Vernon Composite Squadron had held the position of Deputy Commander for Cadets.

A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The passing of colors, standards, or ensigns from an outgoing commander to an incoming one ensures that the unit and its members is never without official leadership, a continuation of trust, and also signifies an allegiance of members to their unit’s commander. Great symbolism is attached to the ceremonial aspects of a change of command.

Col. Heinlein passes the guidon to Lt. Col. Porter. Photo by Lt. Col Mark Patrick.
Col. Heinlein passes the guidon to Lt. Col. Porter. Photo by Lt. Col Mark Patrick.

If you move your cursor over the certificate below, you’ll have access to additional pictures of the evening’s ceremony.

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Change of Command 26 May 2016

MVCS Changes of Command

On Thursday, April 24, 2014, NATCAP Wing Commander Col. Bruce Heinlein presided over the change of command of Mount Vernon Composite Squadron.  1st Lt. Kevin Geiss relinquished command and Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky assumed command.  In his remarks, Col. Heinlein praised the accomplishments of MVCS under the command of 1st Lt. Geiss and thanked him and his family for their service and sacrifice for the benefit of the squadron’s volunteers.  1st Lt. Geiss’s son, C/SMSgt Benjamin Geiss, has been active in the MVCS cadet program, making CAP a family affair.

1st Lt. Geiss served as the squadron’s Public Affairs Officer prior to assuming command.  He also holds Public Information Officer, Mission Observer, Mission Scanner, Mission Staff Assistant, and Liaison Officer qualifications.  A Department of Defense civil servant at the Senior Executive Service level, he finishes his duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy and moves on with his family to a new civil service posting in Ohio.

Lt. Col. Volchansky, a civil servant with the Federal Aviation Administration, first became affiliated with CAP as a cadet with the Monticello Composite Squadron.  A retired U.S. Air Force pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, he has been serving as the MVCS Safety Officer.

LtColVolchansky_assumes
Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky receives the guidon from Col. Bruce Heinlein. Photo by 2d Lt. Mark Patrick.
1stLtGeiss_relinquishes
1st Lt. Kevin Geiss passes the guidon to Col. Bruce Heinlein. Photo by 2d Lt. Mark Patrick.

 

Later in the evening, Lt. Col. Volchansky presided over the cadet change of command.  C/Lt. Col. Joseph Frech relinquished command, and C/Capt. Nicholas Johnson assumed command.

C/Lt. Col. Frech plans to attend Old Dominion University and will participate in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Platoon Leader Class, one of the paths to becoming a Marine Corps officer.  C/Lt. Col. Frech’s father, Capt. Joe Frech, commands the Challenger 1 Cadet Squadron.  Both of C/Capt. Johnson’s siblings are MVCS cadets and both his parents are senior members.

C/Lt. Col. Joseph Frech relinquishes command by passing the guidon to Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky.  Photo by 2d Lt. Mark Patrick.
C/Lt. Col. Joseph Frech relinquishes command by passing the guidon to Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky. Photo by 2d Lt. Mark Patrick.
C/Capt. Nicholas Johnson assumes command, taking the guidon from Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky.  Photo by 2d Lt. Mark Patrick.
C/Capt. Nicholas Johnson assumes command, taking the guidon from Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky. Photo by 2d Lt. Mark Patrick.

 

 

1st Lt Kevin Geiss Assumes Command

Col Bruce Heinlein passes command of MVCS to 1st Lt Kevin Geiss
Col Bruce Heinlein officiates as 1st Lt Kevin Geiss assumes command of MVCS.  Photo by 2d Lt Mark Patrick.

On Thursday evening, 1st Lt Kevin Geiss assumed command of Mount Vernon Composite Squadron.  Col Bruce Heinlein, National Capital Wing Commander officiated and delivered remarks to the cadets and senior members present.

In his remarks, Col Heinlein spoke highly of the operations focus of MVCS and praised 1st Lt Geiss’s performance and readiness for command.  Col Heinlein, a previous MVCS commander himself, commended Maj John Held who has commanded MVCS for the past two years, leading it through many search and rescue exercises, homeland security missions, and numerous cadet and senior member activities.