Gold Coast Air Force Association Holds Essay Contest for Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squad
Filed under Florida Wing, Cadet Programs, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7 on Thursday, May 25, 2017 by Author: Florida Wing Public Affairs.

In recognition of Civil Air Patrol’s 75th years of outstanding community service, the Air Force Association (AFA), Gold Coast Chapter (GCC) members who are active partners with Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in Aerospace and STEM Education, proposed an essay competition for CAP cadets at the Crystal Lake Middle School Cadet School Squadron.

Ms S. Phillips, administrator of school gave permission to have a CAP exhibit in the school’s entry foyer.  The cadets proudly put up the CAP celebration banner; an enlarged poster of CAP’s history and a well-known WWII picture of a yellow Piper Cub plane flown by CAP over an enemy submarine. 

The AFA Gold Coast Chapter has been closely tied with the Crystal Lake Middle School Squadron since 1995 when Colonel David Mikelson (US Air Force, Retired) and an AFA member started the School Squadron Group in Florida. By 2006, before moving to Vermont, Col. Mikelson started nineteen school squadrons throughout Florida.  His first two school squadrons, which are the only two still in operation, are the Crystal Lake CAP Middle School Cadet Squadron (CLMSCS) and Miramar High School CAP Squadron.

The CLMSCS Commander Capt. Traci Cohen, as well as three former commanders, have all been AFA members of the Gold Coast Chapter and GCC Teachers of the Year.   It was at Colonel Mikelson’s suggestion that the essay contest was initiated.

The essay was “How has CAP affected my life and how will it change my life”.  Twenty cadets competed and the essay winner was Cadet Airman Del Campo.

At a CAP Squadron Meeting in February, Capt. Cohen introduced Col. Mikelson and Virginia Montalvo, Gold Coast AFA Chapter President to the squadron members.  Col Mikelson was delighted to see how the unit had grown.  He was especially pleased with the number of cadets who had participated in the essay contest and excited to present the award to the winning cadet.  Kudos to Cadet Airman Del Campo!

Service As Cadet, Senior Member 'Gave Me the Discipline to Pursue my Goal '
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing, Group 2, Group 4, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7, Group 8, Group 9, Group 11 on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 by Author: Southeast Region Public Affairs.

Dr. Ruben A. Hernandez was 13 years old when he first saw the Moca High School Cadet Squadron Drill Team put on an exhibition. By the time it was done, he was hooked. “I wanted to do that,” said Hernandez, now a lieutenant colonel in Civil Air Patrol and assistant director of communications for the Southeast Region. “I wanted to be wearing that uniform and part of the drill team." "Teamwork was something I had never experienced before.” In September 1981 he became a CAP cadet. A year later he was able to join the drill team. 

Just two years after that his cadet squadron, under the direction of then-commander Lt. Col. Eric E. Perez, won the Puerto Rico Wing Drill Team competition. Hernandez credits Perez, who also was an aerospace education teacher at his high school in Moca, as a role model and mentor. “[He] always encouraged us to maintain discipline and good study habits,” Hernandez said. “He helped me to keep the same discipline outside the Civil Air Patrol and into my personal life.” In fact, the two men remain close friends today. Perez said Hernandez demonstrated his potential as a leader right from the beginning of his CAP cadet career.

“He advanced rapidly and participated in all unit and wing activities,” said Perez, now the Moca squadron commander. “He has used the CAP core values throughout his life, as a member of the CAP and professionally. He is a great example for others and he has served as an inspiration to continue being part of the CAP.”

The discipline Hernandez learned in Civil Air Patrol came in handy when he decided he wanted to be a doctor. His father worked as a medical technologist in a lab, and he encouraged him to be a physician, Hernandez said. “He took me to his lab and he said, ‘I want you to do better than I have done; you can be a doctor,’” he recalled.

Drilled To Perfection
He decided to be a surgeon, specifically an orthopedic surgeon, as he pursued his medical studies. He credits CAP with helping him attain that goal. Hernandez practices in the southern part of the island in Ponce. He is an attending physician for two hospitals, Yauco Metro Pavia Hospital and Hospital Metropolitano Dr. Pila, and holds a private practice in both. A fellowship-trained adult reconstructive hip and knee surgeon, he performs around 250 total knee and hip surgeries a year. Hernandez did his fellowship training with one of the most renowned hip and knee orthopedic surgeons in the United States – Dr. Chitranjan J. Ranawat from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“Today, I am an orthopedic surgeon because being in the Civil Air Patrol gave me the discipline to pursue my goal and to be a better student,” Hernandez said. “Every surgery is rewarding. It's biblical, helping someone walk when they can't -- helping someone walk when they are wheelchair-bound, unable to walk because the pain is so severe.”

Being a surgeon requires not only discipline but a strong commitment to precision, and he said he learned that level of precision on the drill team. To him, he said, one surgery is much like all the hundreds of others he’s performed. But for his patients, he knows he has to get everything right so that it will be their only surgery. “That one has to be perfect,” Hernandez said. “They don’t want another -- period.”

Similarly, CAP drill team members might practice a lot, but in competition there’s only one chance to excel. “That one had to be perfect,” he said. “No chance for seconds -- period.”

A Life of Service
Hernandez has remained in CAP since he joined as a cadet in 1981. He completed Phase IV of the cadet program, achieving the rank of cadet lieutenant colonel, and at 21 became a senior member. Though his medical studies and residency cut into his service, he always made a point of continuing to support his local squadron. He even served as his former squadron’s commander.

“I always visited my squadron giving motivational talks to cadets, telling them about the importance of discipline, studying and pursuing your dreams and goals, and how those things can make them happen,” he said.

Hernandez said one of his favorite things about both Civil Air Patrol and being a surgeon is teaching and helping others. “As a surgeon I teach interns, residents and other surgeons about surgeries and other issues,” he said. “In the CAP I like to teach radio communications and to help train mission scanners/observers.”

He said CAP allowed him to fulfill his dream of flying in an airplane. His first cadet orientation flight was his first time ever in an aircraft. And as a cadet captain, he obtained his mission observer rating.

CAP also allowed him to pursue his love of radio communications, which he discovered when he was just 9 years old. At that time he had experienced the camaraderie of the CB radio community, and much like drill team competition he was hooked.

Helping Hunters
Ironically, Hernandez met his mentor before he knew he would fill that role. Perez also was a CB and amateur radio enthusiast. and it turned out the pair had been communicating all along.

“When I joined the Civil Air Patrol I knew I liked the military way, and it is why I joined the Civil Air Patrol communications program. I did a lot of communications training, went to communications encampments and trained quite a few cadets into doing communications before the new communications program came in. It was really fun.”

Hernandez said he enjoys teaching because he likes to see people do their best. “That’s the way my father taught me, and that's the way my former commander, Lt. Col. Eric E. Perez, taught me,” he said. “Lt. Col. Perez had a great impact on me, and I enjoyed learning from him. The joy he had teaching inspired me to teach others as well.”

While it might seem natural that Hernandez has served as a medical officer for many CAP activities, he said it’s important to recognize he was a member of CAP before he become a surgeon. That means it’s often his CAP service that influences him first.

“I was a ground team member before being an orthopedic surgeon,” he said. “I was a mission observer before being an orthopedic surgeon. Because of this … my CAP service converges with my orthopedic surgeon's career. “I feel I am a CAP member that became an orthopedic surgeon, not an orthopedic surgeon who became a CAP member. I feel I have a lot to give back to CAP because of what I have gained in the CAP.”

He said CAP gave him discipline, respect for his superiors and respect for others. It also gave him friends he considers to be family. “It reinforced my core values,” he said. “Also, my best friends are CAP members. They are family to me because there is that same respect and care for them as they gave me. I believe this is more rewarding than anything.

"They are part of my extended family, which for me is priceless.”

Blanton Siblings Commissioned In the U.S. Air Force
Filed under Region Hq, Tennessee Wing, Group 2 on Monday, May 15, 2017 by Author: 1st Lt. Morgan Torp-Pedersen.

On Friday afternoon, at a ceremony held at the Georgia Tech’s historic Academy of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, seventeen cadets of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) were commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. Among them were siblings Bethany Blanton and Riley Blanton, formerly of Rhea County.

Lt Col Juan Silva, commander of Georgia Tech AFROTC Detachment 165, praised and challenged the new lieutenants during opening and closing remarks. During the ceremony, both Blantons were administered the Oath of Office by their former AFROTC commander, Lt Col Michael C. Olvera. Upon completion of the oath, the proud parents, Doug and Becky Blanton, followed long-standing military tradition by pinning the shiny new second lieutenant bars on their son’s and daughter’s uniforms.

Following another Air Force tradition, the newly commissioned officers were allowed to choose an active or separated military service member to render a ceremonial first salute. Rendering Lt. Bethany Blanton’s first salute, was her first Civil Air Patrol (CAP) commander and former Army Specialist, Mark Landrum. Rendering Lt. Riley Blanton’s first salute was Edward Stobart, of Rhea County, former Navy Seaman.

From 2010-2014, while living in Dayton, Tennessee, the Blanton’s were active volunteers in the CAP’s Chattanooga Composite Squadron. Riley joined as a cadet, earned the rank of Cadet Captain (in record time),and was selected to serve as his squadron’s cadet commander before later transitioning to senior member. Bethany, just over that age of being eligible for CAP’s cadet program, joined as a senior member, and was appointed to serve as the squadron’s Deputy Commander for Cadets, devoting her time to training and mentoring cadet leaders.

The Civil Air Patrol, an official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, has special provisions for cadets with three years of experience, or cadets who receive the General Billy Mitchell Award. These CAP cadets are eligible to enlist in the Air Force with the advanced pay grade of E-3. Further, the Blanton’s successful completion of the Air Force ROTC program, along with a 4 year commitment to serve, jump started their military careers with a promotion to second lieutenant.

Both Lieutenants Blanton are graduating this week with academic honors from Georgia State University, having earned their degrees in Political Science. They have been assigned as intelligence officers, and will be reporting to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas for advanced training.

Marco Island Squadron holds Annual Open House
Filed under Florida Wing, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7, Group 800 on Sunday, May 14, 2017 by Author: Maj. Marian Motyl-Szary.

Another Success! Our dedicated Squadron Open House Committee, led by Major Ken Bardon, was prepared, on time and on station to open our doors on Saturday May 6th at 11:00 am. Visitors toured our 6000 sq. ft. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) facilities consisting of our communications center, mission-training center/offices and our featured brand-new Cessna 182T aircraft. They met our members, the local men and woman volunteers who provide invaluable services in support of our nation and local communities. 

Our Mission Pilots were present and guided the visitors inside and out of the featured CAP airplanes: our G1000 C182 and the Naples Squadron’s C172. Many visitors enjoyed the fully equipped communications room with our new HF radio.

All attendees enjoyed a complimentary, delicious lunch cooked by Major Ray James, and supported by several of the Squadron members’ wives (thank you ladies!). Visitors mingled with the Squadron pilots, crews and support personnel who deliver search and rescue services, logistics and training support to the United States Air Force, and the Department of Homeland Security as well as Marco Island and the Everglades including the Ten Thousand Islands – favorite boating and fishing areas.

We hosted 145 visitors, although we were competing with two popular, local events. We appreciated the participation of the Marco Island Police Department, Greater Naples Fire Rescue District, and our neighbor and mission partners from the Naples Senior Squadron. Also in attendance were visitors from many organizations such as the American Legion, VFW Post, USGC Auxiliary and Marco Men's Club.

We were honored by a special appearance of Donna Fiala, Collier County Commission Chairperson. She thoroughly enjoyed the tour and said that she "would not have missed it for the world!"

The Squadron commander Major Bob Corriveau stated, "We achieved our objectives to spread the word on what the Squadron does for the community and show off our new plane. With help from our local media, we continue to work hard to dispel the notion that CAP is a well-kept secret!" 

Student Leadership Academy Aerospace Education Program receives Award
Filed under Florida Wing, Cadet Programs, Group 5 on Friday, May 12, 2017 by Author: Lt. Col. Jeff P. Carlson.

The Student Leadership Academy charter middle school received Civil Air Patrol’s 2016 Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace (Category III-Organization) Award. The award was presented in April at the annual Civil Air Patrol Florida Wing Conference held in Orlando, Fl.

“The Student Leadership Academy school was nominated for the Frank G Brewer Award for the unwavering, long-time support of their students’ interest in Aerospace Education,” said Capt. Madeline Kirsten-Bouchane, commander of the Academy’s school squadron.

Capt. Bouchane explain that the Civil Air Patrol school squadron at Student Leadership Academy is one of only two school squadrons in Southwest Florida. The benefit of being part of a school squadron is that “it allows the cadets to meet every day”. During Civil Air Patrol class, cadets study the science of flight, military history, leadership and participate in several community events. She explained the cadet’s aerospace education includes orientation flights that allow cadets the opportunity to gain first-hand experience about being a pilot with “cadets as young as 11-years-old, learning to fly!”

“Civil Air Patrol has found a lasting relationship with The Student Leadership Academy,” said Bouchane.

According to the website,the Brewer award was established in 1959 to serve as a memorial to Mr. Frank G. Brewer, Sr. and his lifelong interest in aviation, youth, and education. Recognition is given to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions, out of selfless devotion, to the advancement of youth in aerospace activities. Nominees are evaluated on Civil Air Patrol program support, significance of accomplishment, community involvement, and support of all facets of the aerospace education mission.

The Student Leadership Academy in Venice is an A-rated, (free-public) charter middle school, serving Venice, North Port, Englewood and South Sarasota communities for over 10 years.

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