The 2017 Florida Wing Conference and Awards Banquet was held April 27-30 in Lake Buena Vista, FL. The annual event attracted over 300 Civil Air Patrol members who attended the senior member training, cadet conference, awards banquet, change of command ceremony and enjoyed social opportunities with fellow members.
The schedule included almost 75 hours of pre-conference training that included in-resident courses for CAP Chaplain Corps and character development instructors, unit commanders, leaders of cadets, inspector general and mission radio operators. Additionally, 22 conference breakout sessions provided information covering a wide range of support and operation functions, including communications, government relations, logistics, information technology, aerospace education, public affairs, safety and more.
The Cadet Conference is held during the Florida Wing Conference with the training sessions presented by cadets covering topics such as public speaking, military etiquette, leadership through history, basic officership, and mentorship opportunities. There was session reviewing the National Cadet Special Activities such as the National Blue Beret, Hawk Mountain Ranger School, and the International Air Cadet Exchange program. Major Christina English, who was the Officer in Charge of the overall conference said, “The Cadet Conference is one of the premier events each year where cadets have the opportunity to assume leadership roles from planning conference to presenting the sessions.”
CAP national commander, Major General Joseph Vazquez, assisted with presenting some of the 85 awards distributed during the day. Vazquez’s presentations included two of CAP’s most prestigious awards, presenting the Gill Robb Wilson Award to Lt Col Ryan Livergood and Maj Joyce Lampasona and the General Carl A. Spaatz Award to Cadet Colonel Viviana Angelini.
According to the Florida Wing Director of Personnel, Capt. Art Stoutenburg, the number of awards was more than double the typical yearly presentation of around 40 awards. The increase was primarily due to end of duty awards from the outgoing commander to his staff for their support and dedication under his command. Stoutenburg said the Unit Citation Award presented to Florida Wing by the national commander was a real highlight of this year’s awards because it represented the accomplishments of all members in the Wing.
Southeast Region Commander, Colonel Barry Melton, presided over the Change of Command ceremony where the responsibility for leadership of the Wing’s more than 3400 members transferred from outgoing commander Colonel Henry Irizarry to incoming Commander, Colonel Luis Garcia. Melton praised the leadership and membership of “the largest wing” and its success as a “leader in operation tempo”.
Colonel Michael D. Tyynismaa, Commander CAP-USAF, attended the event and thanked the “volunteer airmen” of Florida Wing for the service provided to the Air Force with an active tempo of diverse missions. Colonel Tyynismaa also recognized the nearly two decades of service by CAP-USAF liaison, Col. Jerry Angley, who retired earlier this year.
Other distinguished guests at the event included Puerto Rico Wing Commander, Colonel Carlos Fernandez, and former Georgia Wing Commander, Colonel Richard Greenwood.