October was a busy month! The cavalcade of calls continued and my travel schedule increased as well. This allowed me to visit some amazing events and see some great volunteers in action!
I continued to complete F40s with the wing commanders in October. I very much enjoy talking to the commanders about their goals and the great progress being made in North Central Region. We have a great team of leaders. I was able to complete five F40s in October—three by phone and two in person. When possible, I prefer to meet the commanders face to face. Sometimes distance and schedule do not allow us that luxury. I was very impressed by the quality of our phone discussions this year. The wing commanders were very thoughtful in their responses, and I learned more about the good things they are doing. I am lucky to be the commander in North Central Region!
The region staff is approximately 45-50 people. This means a conference call would be a lot of one-way communication. Rather than one big staff call, we meet in small teams. My small team includes Col Theis and Col Weston (the vice commanders), Col Plum (Chief of Staff), Lt Col Plum (Finance), Lt Col Blodgett (Legal), Lt Col Morris (IG), SMSgt Mudry (Command NCO), and Col Kuddes (RSC/RCLS). We met on the 5th to talk about what is going on nationally and do the business of the region. Once we meet, each vice commander and the Chief of Staff have a team meeting for their groups of about 10-15 personnel. This allows information to be shared but better conversations to develop than one big group.
On the 9th, I began teaching the third section of the Online Unit Commander’s Course. About 50 students expressed interest in taking the online course. This course is like a college level online course in that it takes about 45 hours of time over 8 weeks to complete. I was blessed with a great group of students in this section! We immediately found synergy and began posting on the forums, etc. I am excited to spend the next eight weeks with these amazing leaders.
On the 14th, I visited Iowa Wing. I dropped in at Des Moines Composite Squadron (IA-002) and met their cadets and seniors, including 1st Lt Alex Paul, who became their squadron commander in July and is working hard to build his unit. He is doing some great work—they are experiencing a 56% up tick in cadet membership and 13% growth in senior membership. I also had the pleasure of seeing Lt Col George Kellison who gave up his oak leaves to join the CAP NCO Corps as a SMSgt. He will be a great addition to the NCOs in CAP. I also met with Col Elliott while in Iowa.
On the 15th, I served on the Pre-Selection Committee for the Board of Governors (BoG) vacancy. When there is an opening on the BoG for a CAP member-at-large, individuals self-nominate. The individuals cannot be a commander, vice commander, or chief of staff at the wing or higher level. Additionally, the person may not be a member of the National Commander’s staff or a corporate employee. Members who wish to serve as the member-at-large representative must meet all requirements set forth in CAPR 35-9. The National Executive Officer, Col Arlinda Bailey served as the chair of a committee appointed by MG Smith to review the applications and choose 5 for interviews. Col Jack Ozer, NER/CC, also served on the committee. We had a great discussion regarding this group of candidates. After much debate, we chose the top five who would be interviewed by the CSAG at our November meeting at Maxwell AFB in Alabama.
I had a CSAG call on the 17th. These calls are held the third Tuesday of each month. They are always very informative and we have some great discussions. I followed the CSAG call by having a call with the wing commanders to share important information on the 18th. On the 19th, I doubled up with a call with the NCR/IG to touch base and then followed up by a webex with the online Unit Commander’s Course. Our guest for the Webex was CAP/CC and CEO, MG Mark Smith. The students were excited to ask General Smith question and interact with him. Many thanks to MG Smith for making time in his busy schedule to serve as a guest in the online UCC.
The 20th-22nd, I found myself in Osage Beach for the Missouri Wing Conference. I joined MG Smith and about 100 stalwart members of Missouri Wing to celebrate a year of successes and innovation. Missouri Wing has had a great year. While their ES capability and programs like Pathfinders continue to grow, their Cadet Program has also had many successes. Missouri had the NCR Cadet of the Year with C/Lt Col Young, hosted an RCLS, had a huge encampment, increased the number of Quality Cadet Units, and hosted the MARC NCSA among other Cadet Programs accomplishments. These are a fine tribute to the Cadet Program in its 75th year. However, the mission where I think Missouri Wing shines is our oft forgotten or under emphasized mission of Aerospace Education. Cameroonian president Paul Biya said about the concept of mission, “I want to believe that those who have been appointed to accomplish this mission will be totally committed, devoting all their skills and determination to their work. I urge you to lend them your support so that, together, we can build that bright future worthy of our country.” This quote describes Missouri Wing’s AE efforts. The MO WG team is truly committed and devoted to their work. They have Major Trumbly and his work at the Aerospace Science and Technology Center in Joplin that has educated thousands about AE. They have 2nd Lt Sampath Samarasinghe who devised a plan to educate the masses and inspire them about AE at the Kansas Motor Speedway. They have members like Capt Katrina Everhart leading their program and 1st Lt Don Prevost who has spent a lifetime in the aerospace community who shares his love for aviation with others in Columbia. The wing celebrated and studied the eclipse. Missouri Wing members have truly come together to support each other, inspire youth to learn more about AE and STEM, and make our future better. The wing has inspired over a hundred to join as AEMs and has built relationships with teachers and other professions to grow external AE programs. The hours spent have been countless. If the members of Missouri Wing can come together and achieve what they have done–the future of our youth, your wing, and our country is indeed bright. We were honored to hear MG Smith speak on the topic of mentoring and its importance. MG Smith and I also took the opportunity to promote Major Sarah Wildman, the NCR/SE, to lieutenant colonel. MG Smith met Lt Col Wildman at the National Safety Officer College in June and was kind enough to assist with this promotion. The guest speaker for the banquet was Col Grace Link, Chief of the Air Staff of the Missouri Air National Guard. She shared her story about the important of mentoring and how the interest others took in her took her from modest means to a very distinguished military career that has touched the lives of many in a positive way. She was an absolutely inspiring speaker. Missouri Wing honored its Cadet of the Year, C/Lt Col Justin Smith who honored his mentor, Maj Joe St. Clair. For senior of the year, they honored CMSgt Robert Dandridge. Chief Dandridge, as you know from previous Trajectories, is an amazing member of CAP. He gives freely of his time and energy and is involved in activities all over the nation. He is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. He shares his distinguished military experiences at numerous activities each year. He is involved in both cadet and senior programs. He also works with the NCO program and Chaplain Corps. I am honored to serve with Chief Dandridge. He always has an encouraging word and big smile. Professionalism and service are two of his hallmarks. Congratulations to all the award winners!
I met by phone with the Leadership Development Working group on the 26th to update progress and talk about how the 11 projects in our job jar all related. The calls with the team leads are very interesting and we have some great ideas bouncing around! I am very excited to see how the great things they are working on for professional development in CAP turn out when they are done!
On the 27th, I headed to Salina for the Kansas Wing Conference. It’s always nice to visit old friends who are like family. Since Kansas Wing is my wing of origin, I always enjoy visiting. It’s like being at a family reunion! We had an exciting Friday night social with pulled pork cooked by Lt Col Doug Dutton. It was delicious! The next morning, the wing had its general assembly with briefings and awards. The day was filled with informative seminars. That evening, we gathered at the Marriott where Col Burgess Rennels, myself, and C/Lt Col Ecclesia Settanni shared our experiences, the importance of mentors, and the cadet program in our lives. Oprah Winfrey said of mentors, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” CAP makes a difference in the lives of its members. I know I came to CAP a shy, 17 year-old and it has helped me develop into a leader. CAP provides a valuable support network that many need to find success. I like to refer to the Cadet Program as a 16-step program for success! My competitive nature comes from a desire to not be left behind and to be normal. Hard work can really help with success! I have learned a lot in CAP. Among the most important lessons I have learned is that the Core Values are an excellent guide for life. Caring about others is important and it makes a difference. Explore all CAP has to offer and find your passion. Once you find it, let it impact you in amazing ways. Don’t lose faith. When life deals you a difficult hand, overcome it. Rely on your support network and inner strength. Celebrate the success of others—don’t wish for what they have and focus on the disappointments. Focus on making your dreams come true. It will come—in time—with hard work. Finally, be a mentor to others. Make a difference in the lives of others. Colin Powell said, “All . . . of us have the ability to serve as a mentor—to step forward and say, “I’m going to be a mentor, because I want this generation to take America to a higher level, a better place.” That is the power you have as a mentor and a CAP member. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by! Lt Col Daren Jaeger, who was unable to attend, donated many models and other flight related door prizes and few left the banquet without a prize. One lucky member even won a ride in a bi-plane! After the banquet, the wing gathered for a costume party and cadet ball. There was no doubt that I chose the right costume when I walked in and the cadets immediately recognized me with an enthusiastic, “Amelia Earhart!” The cadets had a variety of questions for me ranging from where I left my plane to where I had been for all those years. A good time was had by all as I made up answers to their inquiries. On Sunday, I traveled back home where my pugs were very glad that I was home!
Monday night, the 30th, had me back on the phone helping Lt Col Beth Ryan of Oklahoma Wing with a webinar on WMIRS and eServices for the online UCC course. That was the end of my CAP activities in October and I ended the month halfway through six straight weekends of CAP-related travel. Next month, my journey will continue in Minnesota, Alabama, and Illinois.
The NCR Wings were busy with missions in October. Kansas Wing completed 10 missions for the American Red Cross and still had time to find an ELT. Minnesota Wing fielded teams on 3 ELT searches. North Dakota Wing spent some time training at a SAREX and on an ELT search. Missouri Wing held a SAREX. South Dakota Wing continued to serve by flying animal surveys, flying a news reporter who is doing a three-part story on CAP, and holding a bivouac in the Black Hills to train. Thanks to all for their service and time spent on missions!
Promotions in October included Lt Col George Kellison who chose to revert to SMSgt and join the NCO Corps. Tom Bass of SD WG earned Lt Col as did Maxwell Oliver of Iowa Wing. Major Tom Atwood of NCR earned the Garber Award. Congrats to all!