Stay Safe, Stand Ready, Smith Tells Fla. Members as Hurricane Irma Looms
Saturday, September 9, 2017

By Lt. Col. Andrew Oppmann, Southeast Region Public Affairs

Maxwell AFB, Ala. - Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, National Commander, Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol's new national commander today asked his volunteer members in Florida to stay safe and stand ready to respond after Hurricane Irma makes landfall on the peninsula, predicted early Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, who assumed command of the 58,000-member volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 2, said he is proud of how his organization was handling the challenges of providing disaster relief not only for Irma, but also Hurricane Harvey's aftermath.

"Back-to-back natural disasters, first Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, test all of us," Smith said. "But they also provide opportunities for CAP members to show their mettle."

As of Friday, CAP had delivered more than 300,000 aerial images over Texas and Louisiana in Harvey’s wake, with more than 30 CAP planes in service and the support of members from 34 wings, Smith said.

Today, Puerto Rico Wing aircrews were in the air for a second day to support relief efforts in the Caribbean after Irma’s passage.

In Puerto Rico, hit by Irma on Wednesday, members spent today taking aerial photos of water and wind damage, as well as transporting relief and recovery officials to the U.S. Virgin Islands, said Col. Barry Melton, Southeast Region commander. The missions were tasked by the 1st Air Force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Smith expressed confidence that CAP members are poised to respond when requested on the mainland.

"We stand ready to serve our communities, states and nation," Smith said.
Melton echoed Smith, saying Florida Wing members – no strangers to hurricane response – are prepared.

"The wing has been systematically spooling up its response readiness for the last two weeks," he said.

That includes moving aircraft and crews from other units in the Southeast Region, Melton said. His command includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Col. Luis Garcia, Florida Wing commander, said his units are at top readiness, known as HURCON 1. He said the wing will likely set up initial incident command posts in Lakeland and Tallahassee once conditions improve.

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Article Information
Reviewed by: Lt Col Judy Steele
Syndicated to: Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing
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Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit for more information.
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