I began July with a trip to the National Flight Academy in Fremont, Nebraska. I joined Col David Plum and his amazing team at Midlands University. What a delight! Col Plum and his team were able to instruct and solo 24 new cadet pilots! The university is a wonderful partner for CAP and the facilities were excellent. While in Fremont, we also participated in the John C. Fremont Days celebration to honor Vietnam Veterans like Col Steve Kuddes, former North Central Region Commander. The ceremony was very emotional and rewarding for the participants and the cadets alike. I was also honored to promote Cadet Ayiana Rivera to C/CMSgt while at NFA Fremont. Thanks to the cadets and staff at this event for their hospitality. I very much enjoyed my visit with you!
While I was visiting NFA Fremont and attending a conference for work, Col Rick Franz was visiting and supporting the Iowa Wing Encampment at Camp Dodge, the Model Aircraft & Remote Control Flight Academy at Fort Leonard Wood, and the Missouri Wing Encampment at Fort Leonard Wood. Missouri Wing had a big encampment this year with over 100 cadets in attendance. Great work, Missouri Wing!
I left for National Blue Beret on July 16th to serve as Public Affairs Team Lead. I traveled with Col Burgess Rennels, Lt Col Mark Lahan, and Captain Tim Thornton. At NBB, I had the honor of working with an incredible team in Public Affairs: Major Daren Jaeger, an extraordinary professional photographer; 1st Lt Katie Mazos, a National Guard trained videographer; C/1st Lt Katie Jenkins, a web/graphics designer; and C/2nd Lt Cole Oakland, who brought much needed knowledge of social media. This was an amazing team and they turned out a great product that I am very proud of. Check out our page on Facebook at “National Blue Beret, Civil Air Patrol”! We reduced the number of newsletters we produced and increased the number of videos. We were joined and assisted by Major Robert Bowden, the Great Lakes Region PAO. We documented every day of the activity in photos and produced videos on mass arrivals, Ardy & Ed’s, and a couple daily updates. Lt Mazos also produced a touching video on what it means to be a Blue Beret. We also have a video documenting our first ever 1940s era hangar party at NBB—complete with root beer donated by Ardy & Ed’s! Thank you for your support, Steve and Ardy! We were honored when several distinguished visitors stopped by National Blue Beret this year. MG Joesph Vazquez and Lt Col Leslie Vazquez spent a week at Beret Base. MG Vazquez awarded EAA CEO Jack Pelton and AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker with replica Congressional Gold Medals for their support of Civil Air Patrol. MG Vazquez and Lt Col Vazquez also visited with representatives from a variety of aviation-related companies such as Textron and CITGO. Col Ed Phelka, the Great Lakes Region Commander, visited NBB along with Lt Col Monyca Uecker, the Great Lakes Liaison Region Commander. Col Mike Tyynismaa, CAP-USAF Commander, and Lt Col Mac Yates, 1 Air Force Director for Air Force Auxiliary Operations, also dropped in for a couple days. Col Rose Hunt, the Wisconsin Wing Commander, joined us for several days. Stacey Bechdolt, the newest member of CAP’s Board of Governors, also dropped in for a tour of Beret Base. Thank you to all our distinguished visitors for their time, energy, and support of NBB! C/Col Isaac Schuetz also received his Spaatz Award from MG Vazquez at NBB. C/Lt Col Jodie Gawthrop, who attended NBB, took the 2 millionth Young Eagle flight with actor Harrison Ford during NBB. It was a busy couple of weeks! It was my 11th year at NBB and it truly is an activity like no other. Every year I attend is better than previous years. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about servant leadership, aerospace education, or participate in a challenging, operational mission. I returned from NBB on 31 July.
While I was out of the region, South Dakota Wing continued to fly aerial wildlife surveys. They flew 18 surveys over 10 days in July. South Dakota Wing also worked the Sioux Falls airshow and participated in a 75th anniversary hangar dance. Missouri Wing continued to investigate how CAP might be able to participate better in missing person searches using personal tracker devices. This new mission may be a great fit for CAP in the future. The wings are a great source of innovation and I am impressed by their resourcefulness in finding new missions to replace the ELT search. Keep up your testing, Missouri Wing!
In July, the region began to focus more on recruiting and retention, reports of survey, and safety education. As this trajectory hits its end point, I want to recognize some volunteers and wings for their achievements and hard work.
Awards and Recognition:
Major Daren Jaeger, Kansas Wing, Gill Robb Wilson Award
Major Pamela Morris, Kansas Wing, Gill Robb Wilson Award
C/CMSgt Zachary Wild, Minnesota Wing, passed his Private Pilot test
Congratulations to the following new lieutenant colonels promoted in July 2016:
Lt Col Danny Phillips, Kansas Wing
Lt Col Barbara Willis, Kansas Wing
Minnesota Wing, storms, 16-M-0472A
Minnesota Wing, missing person, 16-M-0497A
Kansas Wing, 16-M-521, ELT, Find