The change of command on 28 May in Wichita, KS was very meaningful for me. Twenty-five years before, I had received Kansas Wing Cadet of the Year Honors from Col Rich Anderson at a Kansas Wing Conference in Wichita. BG Larry Myrick conducted the change of command and it was both special and humbling. There was a May special on change of command in NCR—it was two for the price of one. On the same evening, Col Linette Lahan took command of the Kansas Wing, and we wish her the best in her new command.
Among the other events at the conference, BG Myrick presented a Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) to Josephine Maxwell Barkley, who lives in Ottawa, Kansas. Josephine served as a CAP cadet during World War II. We were joined by her family for a ceremony that would give anyone goosebumps; you could literally feel the emotion in the air! If you have the opportunity to attend a CGM ceremony, I highly recommend it because it is an amazing experience. The NCR CAC also hosted a forum and several events for cadets attending the Kansas Wing Conference. Congratulations on a job well done to C/Col Couture and his team; they did a great job planning and conducting the event! Based on lessons learned by crashing some quadcopters at the CSAG retreat in late April, BG Myrick and I also took advantage of some quadcopter flying lessons. I was taught by remote control expert and Missouri Wing Commander Col John O’Neill. Thanks for your patience, Col O’Neill!
The first weekend in June, I was on the road to Pierre, South Dakota with Col Rick Franz for the South Dakota Wing Conference. Col Franz, having stepped down after a successful term as Kansas Wing Commander the previous weekend, joined the region staff as Deputy Chief of Staff for Cadet Programs. South Dakota Wing put on a great conference. On Saturday, Col John Seten, who earned a Distinguished Service Award, stepped down after four years as wing commander and I was honored to promote Major David Small to the grade of colonel as he began his term as commander. Thanks to Col Seten on a job well done and good luck to Col Small as his wing commander journey begins! BG Myrick also attended the South Dakota Wing Conference where he participated in an open forum and ate breakfast with the CAC. Lt Col Myrick accompanied him; thanks to both of them for joining us! While at the South Dakota Wing Conference, I was inspired by Lt Col Lois Schmidt who earned the Congressional Gold Medal for her service in CAP and is still active in the South Dakota Wing. I was also able to present Chap (Lt Col) Gary Rae with the NCR Squadron Chaplain of the Year Award and Major Lee Vaughn with the NCR Frank G. Brewer Lifetime Achievement Award. Both are amazing members whose dedication to CAP is humbling. South Dakota Wing finished off the conference by going into “mission mode” when AFRCC tasked them with a missing person search during Col Small’s first commander’s call. Col Small and his team handled the change with grace and professionalism. Thank you to South Dakota Wing for the hospitality and a great event!
The next weekend in June, I drove to Independence, Kansas to welcome cadets and seniors attending the Aircraft Manufacturing and Maintenance Academy. Kudos to Lt Col Rick Woolfolk and his amazing staff on planning a wonderful activity. It was easy to see that cadets and senior officers alike were going to have a great event and learn a lot. I ate dinner with the cadets and we played miniature golf as an ice breaker. We also took a ride on an antique carousel in the local park. The carousel played the Air Force song! I was inspired by the dedication of those at the activity such as C/CMSgt Gregg Stein. Thank you for your hospitality, AMMA!
The third weekend in June found me back in Wichita, Kansas to celebrate Col George Boyd’s 90th birthday. Col Boyd, a former Kansas Wing Commander, holds the distinction of having two Congressional Gold Medals. One he earned as a Tuskegee Airman and one as a member of Civil Air Patrol. It was an evening filled with reminiscing, laughter, good food, and friendship. Col Boyd appointed me as commander of the 77th Composite Squadron in Emporia, Kansas in 2001. He has served as a mentor and friend ever since. Thank you for your service and support, Col Boyd!
I finished up the last weekend in June by joining the Missouri Wing for the graded OPSEVAL at Fort Leonard Wood. It was great to see nine CAP aircraft lined up on the flight line waiting to go out on sorties. Missouri Wing certainly lived up to their motto of, “Show me excellence.” The team earned a ‘highly successful’ overall and several members including the IC and PIO also earned recognition. The Missouri Wing incorporated more outside entities into their exercise than I have seen before. The team of outside groups they worked with included Fort Leonard Wood public affairs, the National Weather Service, and an Army Civil Support Team. Thank you for your hard work and impressive efforts, Missouri Wing!
I dropped by my first command, the 77th Composite Squadron, on June 28th to see the change of command. To say the least, the unit was surprised to see me! I had an ulterior motive, however. Col Linette Lahan, the Kansas Wing Commander, and I had planned a surprise that evening. My old cadet colleague Major Jon Holder, who had served on the region communications staff for several years, was very surprised when I promoted him before the change of command ceremony. Good luck in your new position, Lt Col Holder!
While I traveled a lot in June, I was not able to visit all the locations and wings that carried out notable activities.
I would like to share information about a few programs I was unable to visit. South Dakota Wing participated in two missions of note in June 2016. First, they conducted low-level route surveys of the Powder River Military Operating Area. Second, they flew 12 aerial surveys of wildlife over 7 days in June for the Department of Game, Fish, & Parks and South Dakota State University. South Dakota Wing was also chosen by CAP/NHQ to participate in a test program for the use of drones in Search and Rescue. North Dakota Wing participated in a mission to escort the Hermes 450 as it gathered data on crops for researches at North Dakota State University. The Joint Dakota Encampment was also held from 25 June through 2 July in Camp Grafton, North Dakota. About sixty cadets attended the event.
While the staff and I have been traveling to great events and meeting great people, we have also focused on compliance. Compliance is not optional, and it needs to be the foundation that we build our success as a region on. Among other things, we have worked with the wings to ensure vehicle reports are being done in a timely manner, SUIs are being closed out, and safety reporting is addressed.
As I close this first trajectory, I want to take the time to recognize some particular volunteers and the wings for their good work.
This month, I was privileged to share with Missouri Wing that the Wentzville Composite Squadron had been named NCR Squadron of Distinction.
Congratulations to C/Col Andrew Carter, Minnesota Wing, on earning Spaatz Award #2043.
Congratulations to C/Lt Col Boaz Fink, Minnesota Wing, on soloing in June 2016.
Congratulations to South Dakota Wing on earning a highly successful on their graded OPSEVAL the weekend of 18 June. The wing was also evaluated on their participation in recent, actual missions.
Congratulations to South Dakota Wing on completing Mission 16-M-0337A with a find and save.
Thanks to Missouri Wing for their participation on Mission 16-M-0342A and North Dakota Wing for participation on Mission 16-M-0337A.
Congratulations to the following new lieutenant colonels promoted in June 2016:
Lt Col Jay Sliwinski, Minnesota Wing
Chaplain (Lt Col) Leonard Hale, Missouri Wing
Lt Col Crismon Brayman, Missouri Wing
Lt Col Don Hamblen, Missouri Wing
Chaplain (Lt Col) Charles Hudson, North Central Region
Lt Col Jonathan Holder, Kansas Wing