I joined Civil Air Patrol in February 2014 as a cadet, and attended my basic encampment as a Cadet Airman First Class the same year. I met many friends, learned a lot about myself, and learned a lot about CAP. I fell in love with the organization. I was awarded the Wright Brothers Award (achieving the rank of Cadet Staff Sergeant) a week before my 16th birthday. I also attended the D-Day Ohio reenactment in Conneaut for the first time, and fell in love.
In 2015, I continued progressing through my cadet career. I served in various NCO roles at the squadron including Element Leader, Public Affairs NCO, Flight Sergeant, and First Sergeant. I really enjoyed Squadron First Sergeant, as it gave me a huge push to step out of my comfort zone and put myself in the line of fire during PT, something that wasn’t really my strength. I also returned to the OHWG Encampment, as Bravo Flight Sergeant. I was a Cadet Chief Master Sergeant: a rank that is easily one of my favorites. While the week was filled with stress and emotion, I learned so much about leadership, teamwork, trust, and followership. I also attended the Cyber Defense Training Academy (CDTA) National Cadet Special Activity in San Antonio, Texas. My team took first place in the Graduation Exercise.
In 2016, I continued holding squadron staff positions and became an active member of Wing Cadet Advisory Council (CAC). I returned to encampment as a Cadet First Lieutenant, and served as Alpha (“Music”) Flight Commander. I once again attended CDTA, this time serving as staff and taking the advanced course. Two weeks before my 18th birthday, I was awarded the Amelia Earhart Award, thus promoting to Cadet Captain. I attended the OHWG Conference, began my first term as Cadet Commander of my squadron, and served as Cadet Commander of D-Day Ohio.
In 2017, life became weird. I moved internationally back to the Netherlands, but was incredibly invested in CAP. I was an eager Cadet Captain, and stayed up many late nights living in a different time zone to attend conference calls, meetings via Skype, and Cadet Advisory Council calls. I served as Cadet Commander of CDTA’s first ever Maryland Campus. I also served as OHWG CAC Vice Chair, OHWG Representative to Region CAC, and was part of the executive planning committee for the 2017 OHWG/GLR Conference. At this conference, I coordinated a Color Guard made up of cadets from each Wing in the Region, something I’m still incredibly proud of to this day. I was awarded 2016 OHWG Cadet of the Year at this conference.
Things started to normalize in 2018 as I moved back to the states. I served a second term as Cadet Commander at the squadron level, and returned to the OHWG Encampment as the Cadet Deputy Commander for Operations. I was voted OHWG Cadet Advisory Council Chairman, and served an incredible term with some phenomenal cadets. I also attended Region Cadet Leadership School in Michigan Wing, where I met more amazing people.
2019 was the year my cadet career would come to an end, as you can be a cadet member of the Civil Air Patrol until your 21st birthday. I promoted to Cadet Lieutenant Colonel, achieving the Ira C. Eaker Award. It is the second most prestigious award in the cadet program, and I was the 3,409th cadet to earn it since the award’s creation in 1998.
I moved squadrons in 2019 to become a more active member at the local echelon again, and absolutely fell in love with the little unit I moved to. I served as Cadet Commander of the 2019 OHWG Encampment, a position I will forever be grateful to have served in. I was also selected to attend the International Air Cadet Exchange, where I would serve as an ambassador of the United States and Civil Air Patrol traveling to the United Kingdom with a group of 11 other cadets from the US. Thanks to IACE, I now have Cadet friends all over the world. I concluded my activities as a cadet with an activity near and dear to my heart, the D-Day Ohio reenactment. I attempted the Spaatz exam before my 21st birthday, however, I passed all portions except PT.
I now serve as a First Lieutenant on the Senior side, and I can honestly say I love it. My focus has been a bit… everywhere. I am working as Deputy Commander for Cadets, Communications Officer, Information Technology Officer, and several more. I plan to attend as many activities, classes, schools, encampments, and conferences as I can.
I can’t wait to give back to the program what I learned.
What is Civil Air Patrol?
Civil Air Patrol is America’s premier public service organization for carrying out emergency services and disaster relief missions nationwide. As the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP’s vigilant citizen volunteers are there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe. Its 60,000 members selflessly devote their time, energy, and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace education and helping shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program.
“Supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space, and cyber power.”
Emergency Services: Always prepared, both in the air and on the ground, members of the Civil Air Patrol perform emergency services for state and local agencies as well as the federal government as the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and states/local communities as a nonprofit organization. Ever vigilant, these true patriots make a difference in their communities, not only to assist in times of disaster but also to search for the lost and protect the homeland.
Aerospace Education: Civil Air Patrol’s awarding-winning aerospace education program promotes aerospace, aviation, and STEM-related careers with engaging, standards-based, hands-on curriculum and activities. It shapes the experiences and aspirations of youth both in and outside of CAP’s cadet program.
Cadet Programs: Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program transforms youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders through a curriculum that focuses on leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character. As cadets participate in these four elements, they advance through a series of achievements, earning honors and increased responsibilities along the way. Many of the nation’s astronauts, pilots, engineers, and scientists first explored their careers through CAP.
For more information on Civil Air Patrol, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com.