Baltimore, Md. -
Col. Andrea Van Buren accepted command of Civil Air Patrol’s Southeast Region – the organization’s largest, with about 9,100 members spread across six wings – during ceremonies Thursday at CAP’s annual National Conference.
Van Buren succeeds Col. Barry Melton, who had commanded the region since June 2015. The ceremony took place after a meeting of CAP’s Board of Governors in Baltimore.
“If anyone can follow Col. Melton and do justice to the job of Southeast Region commander, it’s Col. Van Buren,” said Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, CAP’s national commander and CEO. “You, ma’am, are going to do a wonderful job, and it’s great to have you as a partner in our senior leadership.”
Van Buren, commander of the Georgia Wing since 2017, thanked Smith for her appointment. “The saying in our region is, ‘It all starts with one,’” she said. “It’s an honor to serve.”
Melton described Van Buren as “a dynamic leader,” calling on members of the region’s Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Puerto Rico wings to give her the same support he enjoyed as commander.
Smith presented both Van Buren and Melton with Distinguished Service Awards, the highest honor given to a CAP member for outstanding duty service, for their previous command assignments.
Melton’s award citation noted that during his tenure as commander the Southeast Region “excelled in all three CAP missions, including timely support and service during major disaster responses, continual emergency services training and stellar cadet and senior member professional development programs.”
The citation also said the region’s members “responded in great numbers to hurricanes Maria, Florence, Irma, Michael and Matthew, as well as devastating wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains.”
Van Buren’s citation cited the Georgia Wing’s participation in disaster relief during recent hurricanes, singling out her “genuine concern for all members and resources” and her leadership in preparation for the major storms.
The citation also said Van Buren “engaged new supporters and donation opportunities in the community for CAP and was extremely successful in securing additional funding for the Georgia Wing.”
Dozens of Southeast Region members were in attendance for the ceremony.
Wing commanders joined Van Buren on stage after the change of command. They presented Melton with “a small token of our appreciation,” an oversized circular wooden plaque etched with the logos of the region and its six wings.
Van Buren holds CAP Master ratings in Command, Administration, Personnel and Professional Development, along with a Technician rating in Safety. She has a private pilot certificate and holds single-engine land, multi-engine land and instrument ratings.
She earned a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a bachelor’s in business administration/aviation management from Auburn University.
Since July 2015 Van Buren has been an aviation insurance broker with Lance Toland Associates in Atlanta, specializing in placing insurance coverage for airports, aircraft, fixed-based operators, products manufacturers, aircraft hangars and aviation workers’ compensation.