It is always nice to be able to work with commanders and support them face-to-face; I had several opportunities in April.
On April 11, I had dinner with Col Linette Lahan, the Kansas Wing Commander.  Thanks for dropping in on your way to a squadron meeting, Col Lahan.
On April 21, Col David Plum flew me to the North Dakota Wing Conference. We were able to talk about a lot of initiatives and ideas on the four-hour trip. We were joined by former North Dakota Wing Commander and NCR Vice Commander Col Tom Weston. Col Bill Kay, also a former North Dakota Wing Commander, joined us in Dickinson. Finally, Lt Col Bonnie Braun joined us to help with Cadet Programs and DDR activities. North Dakota had a great event with about 80 members attending the conference. I shared a state of the region brief and also spoke about Commitment at the banquet. Congratulations to C/Capt Anika Bohmer on earning the Earhart Award. South Dakota scheduled their conference for the same weekend so Col Tom Theis, NCR/CV, and Chaplain Lt Col Don Mikitta went to the South Dakota Wing event.
On April 21, I began teaching another section of the Online Unit Commander’s Course; we have four future instructors participating. Thanks to Lt Col Beth Ryan, Major Rob Rothenberg, Major Austin Worcester, and Capt Jim Jagow. We have about 50 students in the second course. They are keeping us all busy with grading and questions. It’s a really interactive group and I look forward to spending the next eight weeks with them. Through the introductions discussion I found that one of the students was a cadet the same time as I, and we attended PJOC together at Kirtland AFB in NM in 1991. What a small world!
On 25 April, Lt Col Eric Davis generously volunteered to fly me to Columbia, Missouri to present the Central Missouri Composite Squadron with the NCR Squadron of Distinction Award. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we were unable to make the trip and I’ll have to catch up with them in the near future. Thank you to Lt Col Davis for offering to fly me to Columbia for the presentation and congrats to Central Missouri Composite Squadron on earning Squadron of Distinction for their excellent numbers in recruiting, retention, milestone awards, orientation flights, and first time encampments. The unit is aptly led by Major Mike McCrady and a great group of cadet and senior officers. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to CAP!
On April 26, I departed for joint North Central Region/Rocky Mountain Region Chaplain Staff College (RCSC) in Bellevue, Nebraska. The college is conducted at the Columban Father’s retreat near Omaha. The event has a very dedicated staff and I interacted with members of several wings including Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Chaplain Colonel Jay Hughes of Georgia, CAP Chief of Chaplains, joined us for the event. It’s always nice to see Chaplain Hughes as we served as wing commanders at the same time. Chaplain Lt Col Daniel Hudson, served as Director this year with the assistance of several other veteran staff members like Chaplain Van Loon, Chaplain Van Horn, and Chaplain Mikitta. One focus of the school was military funeral honors and CMSgt Robert Dandridge helped teach and arrange a panel with first sergeants from Offutt Air Force Base. Lt Col Shirley Rodriguez, a CDI from Kansas Wing, gave an inspirational morning devotional on Thursday, using one of my favorite songs, “Sweet By and By.” We had a great banquet at the end of the event hosted by the Papillion LDS Stake. What a wonderful group of young people who served us an amazing meal! The color guard for the evening was provided by the General Curtis E. Lemay Composite Squadron and they did a great job. CMSgt Robert Dandridge introduced the guest speaker for the evening, retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Victor Rountree, who was a long time colleague and who gave an inspiring address that shared both his faith and his experiences. It was such a privilege to speak with CMSgt Rountree and his wife that evening. This was my first time attending the RCSC and I was impressed with it. I can’t wait to attend next year!
Late on April 27, I departed for the Minnesota Wing Conference in Breezy Point, Minnesota. It was a long drive but I was accompanied by Chaplain Major Jill Holm from Minnesota Wing. I very much enjoyed getting to know her better on the long drive from Omaha to Breezy Point. Chaplain Holm gave me a very special gift—a copy of a book she wrote about her much loved horse. Thanks for the thoughtful present, Chaplain! I will enjoy reading God’s Gift of Mr. Top Bars Twist: Slickers, Life Lessons and Horse Sense. The conference began on Friday night with a social event attended by many members. Saturday saw about 350 attend the conference. I shared the state of the region presentation with the membership and highlighted some successes in Minnesota Wing. Following the general assembly, we had some great sessions all day and a very nice display of historical information at the event. Col James Garlough and I facilitated a town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon and fielded some good questions from members. Following the town hall, we all changed for the banquet. Brigadier General John Kubinec spoke at the banquet. The general was on hand to present the Senior Member of the Year Award to Lt Col Marcel Kobberdahl for his many contributions to CAP over the years. It was very touching because Marcel is General Kubinec’s son-in-law. General Kubinec has several other connections to CAP. He is a friend of CAP-USAF Commander Col Mike Tyynismaa and he served on deployment with NCLR Commander Lt Col Jeff Meyers. General Kubinec delivered wise words with a dose of humor and his comments were very well received. He also handed out several awards. I was pleased to be able to see fellow Blue Beret C/Lt Col Emmit Richardson receive his Eaker Award from the general. Emmit proudly serves as an example to others and fulfills the tenets of the Beret Creed. Congratulations C/Lt Col Richardson! On Sunday, I met with the CAC and then drove about 12 hours to get home. Rain and road construction made it a long day!
My travels in April consisted of about 3400 miles. In a ten-day period, I set foot in every wing in the region and attended events in four different wings. I enjoy getting out and seeing the good work being done in the wings and squadrons. I continue to see great things from the amazing members of North Central Region.
A busy few weeks of travel continues in May, which will bring the CSAG retreat in Tennessee and the National Staff College at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. I am honored that I was asked to teach mentoring to the college.
April was a busy month in Operations. Iowa Wing participated in a fly-in. Kansas Wing executed nearly a dozen missions carrying blood for the American Red Cross. In addition, Kansas completed SAR training, searched for an ELT, and conducted AFJROTC orientation flights with two units and AFROTC rides for students at KSU and KU. Minnesota Wing also flew AFJROTC and AFROTC cadets on orientation rides. Minnesota conducted an air defense mission and assisted with a low level route survey also. Missouri Wing responded to flooding. North Dakota Wing completed a Water Commission Survey, AFJROTIC orientation flights, and had a SAR Evaluation Exercise. Nebraska Wing flew AFJROTC Orientation flights also in April. South Dakota Wing had a compliance inspection and a low level route survey.
Please help me in welcoming Lt Col Eric Shappee to the NCR staff. He will be assisting with safety. He is a former Kansas Wing Vice Commander and former member of the National Safety Team. We are lucky to have someone with Eric’s knowledge and skills join our team!