My first few months as your region commander have flown by at an alarming rate.  I enjoy meeting the amazing volunteers of the North Central Region and learning about all the good work you do as I travel to events.  I may be biased but I think that NCR has some of the finest volunteer Airmen in the nation.  I am inspired by the members I have met on my travels!

Let me recap my experiences in this new commentary called “Command Trajectory.”  I want to thank Major Daren Jaeger of Kansas Wing for his assistance with the title.  Why did I choose trajectory as the name?  One reason is that it has an aerospace connection and that is one of our missions.  Second, according to Wikipedia, a trajectory is, “the path that a moving object follows through space as a function of time.”  What better way to describe the path I take on my journey as commander?  Finally, a trajectory is about where we are and where we want to be.  The plan is for new “Command Trajectory” columns to appear on the website shortly after the first of each month.

 

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

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

Missions:
Minnesota Wing, storms, 16-M-0472A
Minnesota Wing, missing person, 16-M-0497A
Kansas Wing, 16-M-521, ELT, Find

December began with one of the most amazing events that I have ever attended! December 1st found me at the airport headed to Washington DC for the 75th Anniversary gala. Donald Bailey, my brother and a former cadet sponsor member of CAP, accompanied me to the gala. When I was a kid, Donald always took me to air shows, and he has had a love of aviation since he was a child. I remember standing in line for hours with him to get an autograph from Pappy Boyington. We built a remote control Focke Wulfe aircraft when I was in junior high, and I routinely crashed his EZ remote control plane that he patiently repaired each time. I knew he would appreciate the gala and the venue. The 75th anniversary event was a once in a lifetime experience! The staff who put the event together deserve kudos and thanks for their hard work; it was magical.  Susan Schneider was on hand to take pictures of the event and the attendees. She quickly uploaded them to the NHQ Flicker site so if you would like to see who was in attendance, check out the site. Donald and I had our photo taken and we also took the opportunity to get a photo with the Baileys from the East Coast–Col Jason Bailey of North Carolina Wing and Col Arlinda Bailey of Tennesee Wing. The evening began with time to explore the Udvar Hazy Center and see such historical treasures as the Enola Gay and Discovery. One can even see Civil Air Patrol’s Congressional Gold Medal on display.
After enjoying the museum, we sat down to eat under the wings of history. The meal and the music were incredible and the speakers were amazing. It was very touching to hear the letter from President Obama read. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James inspired the crowd with her comments that ended with, “Aim High, Airmen.” We were joined at the event by Col Anita Elliott (IA), Col Linette and Lt Col Mark Lahan (KS), Col David Small (SD) and his wife Sylvia, Col John O’Neill (MO), Col James Garlough (MN), and Col Tom Theis (NCR); North Central Region had a good delegation in attendance! Kudos and thanks to all those who made the 75th Anniversary Gala possibile!

The next day found me in the CSAG meeting and Donald out visiting Washington DC with Col John O’Neill, Col Linette Lahan, and Lt Col Mark Lahan; we both had a great day. The CSAG meeting began with Mr. Donnie Rowland receiving his Life Membership plaque from MG Joe Vazquez. We then settled down with a long agenda of discussion topics from ADS-B conversion to uniform updates. I always enjoy spending time with the other leaders on the CSAG. The discussion is deep and fulfilling and I feel very lucky to be working with such an amazing group that has great vision for where they would like to see our organization in the future. In the evening, I was able to meet with several members of the subgroup I lead from the Leadership Development Working Group and we continued our work on materials for the Just In Time Unit Commander’s Course. While the main course will roll out in January 2017, we are also working on a ‘Just In Time’ course for commanders who don’t have time to take the full course before taking command. The Just In Time course does not replace the full course, but helps the incoming commander prepare and avoid pitfalls in the short term until the UCC can be completed. I am excited to see how this product will grow as we continue our work on it. I am always inspired by the group I am working with on this project. They really think outside the box and work hard to be innovative in their approach to professional development. As you may know, the experience members have at the unit level is how we retain members. Members have told us that we need to focus more on that experience and on leadership for our commanders. After another day of meetings, we were on our way back to Kansas.

Thursday the 8th found me on a teleconference for the Leadership Development Working Group to touch base on our progress and make final plans. As I have mentioned before, I have the honor of working under the leadership of Col Mark Smith on this project. Col Smith, the Southwest Region Commander, is leading the effort to revise CAP professional development in many areas. I certainly enjoy working with him and the other members of the team.
On the 9th of December, I departed for San Francisco to serve on the Pacific Region Commander Interview Board. We talked to six outstanding CAP members over the course of two days. Col Dan Leclair, the Northeast Region Commander, led the effort and the third member was Col Bob Bost, the Rocky Mountain Region Commander.
I very much enjoyed talking to the inspired members of PCR about their assessment of the region, their thoughts on leadership, and their goals. This was a great experience for me because I was on the other side of the interview table in April. I learned a lot serving on this board and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to do so. In the end, MG Vazquez named Col Jon Stokes as the new PCR commander; welcome aboard, Jon! BG Myrick and Lt Col Myrick joined us for dinner on the evening of the 11th.
I also received sad news that weekend when I learned of the passing of former CAP National Vice Commander and NCR Commander Rex Glasgow. Many members of North Central Region and CAP lost a good friend and mentor with Rex’s unexpected death. I met Rex at an Iowa Wing Encampment in the early 2000s. He was a colonel at that time and serving as Iowa Wing Commander; he had a passion for CAP and an enthusiasm that was absolutely contagious.
Over the next several years, I was privileged to work with him at National Blue Beret and North Central Region activities. Rex was a wonderful mentor and friend. He loved CAP dearly and he helped me develop my leadership skills with encouragement, gentle correction, and opportunities. I’ll never forget the day he called me and said, “Regena, I am no longer the Iowa Wing Commander.” Crestfallen, I immediately asked what happened and he responded with a laugh, “I’m now the North Central Region Commander!” I knew he would do great things for North Central Region just as he had done for Iowa Wing and his home unit in Cedar Rapids. I was privileged to join his staff in 2004 in Cadet Programs. Because of his hard work and dedication to CAP, he continued to progress and later earned a star when he was chosen as the National Vice Commander. He served CAP at Hurricane Katrina and many other missions. Rex left an impression everywhere he participated including National Blue Beret where he advocated for many facility improvements and Iowa Wing where he built an incredible relationship with the state. He had a heart as big as his smile and his dreams. I have heard from countless members, since word of his passing began to circulate, that shared how he mentored or helped them in their CAP career.
A Facebook group quickly grew to honor his memory and many great stories and kind thoughts are posted there. Rest in peace, my friend, you will be missed greatly and remembered fondly.

I also received word that Nebraska Wing earned a successful rating on their Compliance Inspection on the 11th. Congratulations to Col Nelson and his team for their hard work and dedication. I flew home on the 12th and headed back to work on the 13th just in time for board meeting at the college.
In an effort to honor families and the holidays, I cancelled the monthly conference call with the wing commanders and sent out written notes instead. December can be so busy and it is important to remember to keep a good work-family-life-CAP balance. Respect for this balance keeps us healthy and motivated to serve as well as our support network firmly behind us. The next weekend brought Wreaths Across America. Last month, I mentioned that I bought a wreath from C/Capt Donald Leonhardt of the Heartland Cadet Squadron for Major Grover E. Fanning’s grave. On his military marker in the National Cemetery at Leavenworth, it reads: “GROVER E. FANNING, MAJ, US ARMY AIR CORPS, US AIR FORCE, WORLD WAR II, KOREA, NOV 6 1919, JULY 20 1992, SS-DFC-AM.” Who was Major Fanning and why would I buy a wreath for his grave? Let me share this Airman’s story.

In the 1936 Northeast High School Yearbook, Grover E. Fanning was described as, “A good-natured chap from the R.O.T.C.” After graduation from Northeast High School in Kansas City, Grover enlisted. He didn’t immediately take to the air though. He enlisted in the cavalry at Fort Riley, Kansas. His career as a cavalry trooper was a short one and he was working for the Burlington Railroad as a switchman when he joined the Army Air Corps in January 1942. Fanning completed primary training at Oxnard, California followed by basic work at Merced and twin-engine training at Williams Field in Arizona. Just 16 months later, 2nd Lt Grover Fanning was a trained fighter pilot and deployed with the Humpty Doo. He was flying a P-38 as a member of the 9th Fighter Squadron/49th Fighter Group in New Guinea with Richard Bong. According to the Flying Knights yearbook, his nickname was “Grove” and his aircraft was called “Kansas City Kitty.” The nose art was a roaring lion.

On April 12, 1943, 2nd Lt Grover E. Fanning shot down 3 enemy aircraft during the defense of Port Moresby when he piloted one of the three American fighters that met over 100 Japanese aircraft in the air. On August 2, 1943, 2nd Lt Grover E. Fanning shot down another enemy aircraft. On September 2, 1943, 1st Lt Grover E. Fanning achieved ace status when he shot down two Ki-45s in the Bismarck Archipelago. Three more enemy aircraft were shot down
by 1st Lt Fanning in October 1943. He was 23 years old at the time.

In February 1944, Lt Fanning departed for the United States for training. He had been selected for an advanced aerial gunnery school with several other successful fighter pilots. The September 21, 1944, Ballston Spa Journal related that 24 year old Capt Grover E. Fanning graduated from the Aerial Gunnery School on the Matagorda Peninsula, Texas. The newspapers noted that Fanning had 9 confirmed kills to his credit and 3 more probable kills. By October 1944, Fanning was a member of the 464th Fighter Squadron/507th Fighter Group, activated in Bruning, NE, flying P-47s. After training at Dalhart AAF, Texas, the group staged at Fort Lawton in Seattle, Washington in May 1945. After embarking in May and stopping en route at Pearl Harbor, the unit arrived at Ie Shima, Ryukyus in June 1945.
According to the 464th Squadron Yearbook, he was a major when he served with that unit. Their first combat mission was escorting B-24s over Kyushu in July 1945 and their last combat mission was a fighter sweep over Seoul, Korea on August 13, 1945. By the end of World War II, Major Fanning had earned a Silver Star, the Air Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

I am not sure what Major Fanning did in Korea. Uncle Grover never talked about his service. I pieced together the above information from books and news articles in which he is mentioned when I was helping my mother work on the family history. I remember him not as a war hero but as a tall, quiet fellow who loved to garden and was very knowledgeable in that area. I want to thank C/Capt Leonhardt for his efforts to place a wreath on Uncle Grover’s grave. The weather prevented either of us from traveling, but I appreciate the effort and I am sure we shall achieve our goal next year.

I had a short CSAG call on the 20th and another Leadership Development Working Group call on the 23rd. I spent the holiday with family and friends before packing to visit the Region Staff College being held in Salina, Kansas and the Kansas Wing Encampment being held at Fort Riley, Kansas. Lt Col Bob Moore, of Kansas Wing, kindly stepped forward to direct the RSC and he had a great staff helping him. Col John O’Neill, Lt Col Beth Ryan, and SMSgt Mike Mudry all came together to serve on staff full time. Other members like Col Burgess Rennels and Major Doug Dutton dropped in to teach a few sessions as well. The students in attendance seemed to enjoy the course and said they learned a lot during their time together. Congratulations to Major Brian Emerson of the Alaska Wing who was the outstanding graduate for the course! Many thanks to Bob and his team for providing this important professional development opportunity and to the students for taking time during the holidays to improve their leadership. Lt Col Danny Phillips commanded the encampment in Kansas. Around 100 cadets from twelve wings attend the event.
C/Lt Col Megan Laubhan served admirably as cadet commander of the event. Keep an eye on Cadet Laubhan—she has the potential to go far in CAP. Cadets particularly enjoyed flying in Blackhawk helicopters and firing .22 caliber rifles at Godfrey’s indoor range.
I was honored to meet Chaplain (Capt) Douglas Kerns at the Kansas Wing Encampment where he clearly had a positive impact. His smile and high energy was just what cadets needed to bolster their spirits. Thank you for your service, Chaplain Kerns! I also met other outstanding seniors such as 2nd Lt Elaine Stewart and SMSgt Mark Naughton who impressed me with the attitude they brought to encampment. I look forward to seeing the great things these members do in the future. Speaking of the future, I was also honored to spend time with C/A1C Eliora Switzer of MO-126, C/SMSgt Patricia Plum of KS-055, C/1st Lt Jenna Gleason of MI-175, C/MSgt Zach Wouters of AR-083, and C/CMSgt Sanjay Kothari of MI-271 as examples of our amazing cadet program.
Thank you for your hard work at encampment!

As 2016 draws to a close, I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the members of North Central Region who provided countless hours of self-less service. Members of NCR have participated in diverse missions from American Red Cross transport efforts in Kansas to wildlife surveys in South Dakota. I am very proud of the
service we provide to our communities, states, and nation. In addition to the local missions, members of NCR supported many NCSAs across the nation as well as the chase mission in NER. Of course, this just represents one of our missions. Members also spent countless hours educating both our members and the public about aerospace through a variety of activities from orientation flights to traveling museums and more. Finally, the impact we have on the future through our cadet program is incredible. Our cadets are future leaders not only in CAP but also in diverse fields including aerospace, the clergy, education, and the military to name only a few areas. I am looking forward to the great things our members will accomplish in 2017.

Logistics inventories are completed each year between 1 October and 31 December. This year, I asked commanders to finish their inventories by 30 November, because we have had some trouble getting these done on time in the past. I was very pleased to send my thanks and my challenge coin to five officers who helped their wings finish by 30 November. I sent coins to: Lt Col Bill Rutten of Minnesota Wing, Capts Jerry Gabert and Jerry Foy of South Dakota Wing, and TFO Cole Oakland and Capt Christine Settanni of Kansas Wing. These officers were named by their wing commanders as a key player in their wing’s ability to complete the inventories by the goal date. Other wings and officers in the region also worked hard including Col John Mais of Missouri Wing. While Missouri did not finish by 30 November, they did have the earliest completion for many years and were done well before the deadline of 31 December. In the end, all wings finished before the deadline. Thank you to all those who contributed to our timely annual inventory completion! Why would we set our goal earlier than the national deadline?
There are many reasons. In CAP, we need to change our culture from one of compliance to one of continual compliance. We should tackle tasks like safety mishap entries, inventories, etc as soon as possible. When we work on these sooner rather than later, our memory is sharper and completion is easier. It’s much harder to remember what happened at an event 50 days later than it is the week after. When we wait until the deadline to complete tasks, we often do not excel at the task. Short time leads to short cuts. When we give ourselves plenty of time to complete a task, our product is often of a higher quality. We also do not know what obstacles to completion might impact our progress. A computer problem, unexpected illness, or sudden storm can transform timely to late before you know it. Don’t be a victim of circumstance but rather control your destiny. In the end, there are few excuses when we do not meet deadlines that we know about far in advance. Work early, do your best, and be proud of your product! NCR had a second milestone in December. For the first time since I took command, all vehicle reports were completed before the deadline of 10 December. Thank you for your hard work in this area. It is noticed and appreciated!

I celebrated the New Year with the attendees at the Kansas Wing Encampment. It was my honor to attend the encampment dinner, complete with a Grog Bowl, and speach on leadership and integrity. I shared the story of a lawyer who worked for the mob and a pilot who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor with attendees. It’s always fun to watch cadets and seniors celebrate their accomplishments. My thanks to Kansas Wing for the invitation to visit encampment and speak. Also, congratulations on a job well done to the staff of the encampment.

On 5 January, I participated in a Webinar that provided CAP leadership with a tour of the online Unit Commander’s Course. The online UCC is just one of the products that the sub-group of the Leadership Development Working Group I lead developed. Developing the online UCC allowed me to share my day job skills with CAP and support one of my passions—professional development. In many ways, we are raising the bar with the new UCC because we found through survey data that members were not well prepared to take on command of a squadron. The new course endeavors to better prepare members for command through a variety of topics and exercises. The course is being beta-tested in several wings including Nebraska and jointly in Kansas and Missouri. The new course requires students to do the reading in advance and take quizzes on the Learning Management System before attending a two day class. The new course employs the flipped learning modality and we hope it is well received by students. The course will require more of the members who complete it but we hope it puts new tools in your command tool box so you can have a satisfying and less stressful leadership experience.

On 9 January, I participated in a conference call with General Myrick and other members of the CSAG to plan the Command Council meeting in Washington DC in March. We collected feedback from the leaders who attended Wing Commander’s College as well as others and our task was to mold it into a cohesive agenda. I always enjoy working with the other members of the CSAG. On this occasion, I worked with Col John Knowles, Mr. Paul Gloyd, and others. In the end, we came up with a list of sessions that we hope will engage all those in attendance. I, for one, am excited about having time to meet in person with the North Central Region Wing Commanders. It is rare for our group to have time to meet in person. We normally conduct our business by conference call. For the meeting in DC, we will tackle the important topics of recruiting and retention. Each wing commander in NCR is going to read a chapter in a book and teach the other leaders in the region how to apply the book to what we do as volunteer leaders. I am very excited at this opportunity and I know I will learn a lot from my colleagues. The impact should help our region grow and have more satisfied members. Our goal is to grow the region by 1% overall by December 2017.

On 14 January, we began the pilot of the online UCC. I am very excited to teach the pilot course. Online learning is what I do for my college. This was another way for me to share my day job skills with CAP. We have some highly motivated students and several future instructors in the course. As an academic dean, I don’t often get the opportunity to teach so I am thrilled to have this opportunity to help shape and equip other leaders for their duties.

On 19 January, I had a conference call with the NCR wing commanders. We talked about recruiting and retention as well as the need to replace the compliance culture with one that is forward looking. I speak with the wing commanders each month in the same way they communicate with their subordinate unit commanders. It is important for us to share expertise, provide advice to each other, and share best practices. For example, in February the Kansas Wing Commander is going to share a couple of non-CAP awards with the other wing commanders. These may prove a valuable tool for the other commanders to use in recognizing their members.

On 26 January we had the LDWG call. This is the group led by Col Mark Smith that is revamping professional development for several different groups in CAP. I provided an update on the progress of the new UCC. I also provided an update on the Just In Time guide that will help new commanders until they can complete UCC.

On 29 January I hosted a webinar for the onine UCC. Our topic was why one might serve. Squadron commander is a tough job and there is a lot to balance. So, why would people take on this challenge? There are many reasons that range from “someone had to step up” to “I have goals and I can lead the squadron toward success”. One theme that came through was that it is very rewarding in that one can see the impact of their actions very clearly at the unit level. Week in and week out the work done at the units keep people in CAP. We also talked a little about culture and how a commander can make the unit culture a positive one. We had a case study from CAPTalk that shared why a member was thinking about not renewing. We talked about how a commander can counter the issues the member shared and make CAP a positive experience. It was a great discussion and I can’t wait until we gather next time to discuss another important topic.

On 30 January I participated in a conference call with the directors of the onsite UCC pilot, members of the NHQ staff, etc. This call was to orient the directors of the onsite pilot courses. I am pleased that Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri volunteered to test the course. Col Steve Kuddes in Nebraska Wing will direct a course in Grand Island the weekend of February 25. Col John O’Neill will direct a joint Kansas/Missouri class in Kansas City the same weekend. Col O’Neill has invited me to teach the Commander’s Dashboard and Leadership and I am excited for the opportunity.

Several members of the region have recently volunteered to take on additional duties in serving as reviewers on new regulations. I want to thank Col Walt Vollmers of North Dakota Wing for helping us review on the new CAPR 20-3 Inspections. Major Joe St. Clair of Missouri Wing is working as a reviewer on CAPR 35-9 Board of Governors and Region and Wing Commander Selection Procedures. Thanks to Lt Col Jeff Morris of North Central Region for reviewing CAPR 110-1 Internet Operations. And to Lt Col Mark Lahan of Kansas Wing for reviewing CAPR 60-1 Cadet Programs. These stalwart volunteers help comprise Napoleon’s Corporals, which is what the reviewers are called.

I want to shamelessly plug a few upcoming events. First we have a Region Staff College in Nebraska Wing in June under the leadership of Col Steve Kuddes. It is scheduled to run 17-24 June 2017. Second, we have a Region Cadet Leadership School in Missouri Wing in July when they have their wing encampment. More information will be forthcoming for this event. We also have a Region Staff College scheduled in Kansas City in December. This course will run between Christmas and New Years. Major Austin Worcester, the course director, and Major Kevin Oliver, the project officer, are busy planning some great activities including a tour of the World War I museum and a dinner at the National Airline History Museum. This will be an event that offers so much value! We are also currently scheduling a Region Cadet Leadership School for fall that we hope will be in South Dakota. The region is attempting to offer strong activities that will engage the members and compliment what the wings do. We hope to move them around the region and provide great experiences for our members.

In January, Col David Winters joined the region staff as the Deputy Chief of Staff in Cadet Programs. He brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the position and I am excited to see what he will do in this position. We have many activities we wish to offer the cadets of the region. We wish Col Winters luck. I am sure the wings will be hearing from him, if they have not already.

Congratulations to C/Col Zophia Raleigh of Minnesota Wing on earning Spaatz Award #2086. The Spaatz Award is a rare achievement and I know it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to CAP.

Congratulations to new Lieutenant Colonel Doug Dutton of Kansas Wing. Lt Col Dutton lends his expertise in Finance to the wing and his substantial pilot skills as well. Congratulations to Major Marcel Kobberdahl from Nebraska Wing and Chaplain (Lt Col) Larry Biederman of Kansas Wing who earned the Gill Robb Wilson Award. Like the Spaatz Award, this achievement requires much dedication and hard work. It is the final achievement in the senior program.

Congratulations to C/2d Lt Hannah Compton of Nebraska Wing who earned three nominations to service academies. Cadet Compton serves admirably on the NCR CAC. Congratulations are also in order for C/Lt Col Boaz Fink, serving on the NCR staff, who earned an AFROTC Type 1 Scholarship to any school of his choosing for engineering. This scholarship would pay for all tuition and a monthly living stipend, which only the top 5% of applicants receive.

In Emergency Services area, Kansas Wing had an ELT find on 24 January. NCR wings continue to support the New York Wing Predator chase mission. Wildlife surveys continued in South Dakota. Kansas Wing continued to support the American Red Cross on 11 transport missions. North Dakota wing participated on a missing person search. Nebraska Wing planned AFJROTC flights and deer spotting missions.

February looks to be a busy month as we prepare for Legislative Day, annual award submissions, and history submissions.

February was a light travel month related to Civil Air Patrol and another heavy phone conference month. My first call of the month was with the Leadership Development Working Group on the 2nd. Each group provided a progress update. The team I lead was finishing development of the Just-In-Time Unit Commander Guide. We think it will be a great tool for all new commanders. We gathered some feedback on it at an onsite UCC and it was well received. Thanks to all who contributed!

I had a webex on the 9th for the pilot of the online Unit Commander’s Course. Current and future commanders in the class learned about Customs & Courtesies and protocol from NCR NCO Advisor SMSgt Mike Mudry. As you know, if you are lucky enough to have one of the just over 100 NCOs in CAP in your unit, our NCO Corps is a great resource in this vital area. They can offer sage advice in many other areas as well but tend to be experts in the wear of the uniform, customs, and courtesies. It is never a bad idea for commanders to brush up on their customs and courtesies. Other members notice how well we do these things and it impacts our command presence/credibility. While there is no bad time for a review, the spring is an excellent time because we are often handing out awards and doing promotions in front of a group. Pull out CAPP 60-20 Drill and Ceremonies to review the items you will need to accomplish. If you have questions, ask someone who is knowledgeable like an NCO, a former military member, or even an experienced cadet. Your cadets would love to demonstrate a drill item for you. You don’t have to tell them why. They will be excited you are interested! Practice handing out some awards so that you can smoothly accomplish this task as well. Similarly, now is a great time to pull out CAPM 39-1 CAP Uniform Manual and review the rules for the combinations you wear most often. Remember, a commander has to show members how to do things right. Uniform violations reflect poorly upon the individual, the unit, and CAP.

On the 12th, I hosted another webinar for the pilot of the online Unit Commander’s Course. For this session, Lt Col Beth Ryan from Oklahoma Wing presented eServices and WMIRS. Students had lots of good questions. Many thanks to Lt Col Ryan for joining us. The eServices and WMIRS systems are amazing resources. Being familiar with these tools can help all members be successful in CAP. I often get calls from commanders or staff who are trying to find a report or other feature in eServices and I walk them through the process. The more we use these valuable tools, the more familiar we become with them.

On 18 February, I talked to the North Central Region Cadet Advisory Council Chair. Cadet Advisory Council is a great experience and I remember my years both on and working with the council fondly; however, we often struggle to get cadets to participate. CAC is like the Student Council of CAP. CACs should be advising their commanders on Cadet Program matters. I am proud to say that over the years, North Central Region has had a particularly strong CAC. Why did I need to speak with the chair? The National Cadet Advisory Council meets with the Command Senior Advisory Group at each Command Council Meeting to go over the good work the cadets have done since the last session. Before each Command Council meeting, C/Lt Col Joshua Klosterman and I chat about our perspectives on the region, its strengths, it weaknesses, projects, etc. I always enjoy working with the Region CAC Chair and C/Lt Col Klosterman is no exception. He is a bright young man and it is a pleasure to sit next to him when he represents NCR at meetings. Thank you to C/Lt Col Klosterman and all the members of the NCR CAC for their great work this year!

The Finance Committee met on the 20th. We completed the normal tasks such as reviewing the budget and we talked about funds for the NCR Conference that will be held in Bellevue, NE in late March. NCR will be paying for the snacks for the meet and greet social on Friday night as part of our contribution to the conference costs. I hope to see many of you in Bellevue. I had a CSAG call on the 21st. The call was mainly preparation for our upcoming meeting in Washington DC. I hosted another webex on the 22nd for the UCC. Mr. George Vogt, CAP/SE joined me for the event. Students were very engaged and said it was one of the best sections of the course. The students learned a lot about risk management and safety. Many thanks to Mr. Vogt for joining us after hours to present on this very important topic! I participated in another call for the LDWG on the 23rd.

I taught at a TLC Basic course on the 25th in Lee’s Summit. 1st Lt Julianne Dresser was a gracious host and Col John O’Neill was the director for the weekend activities. I was joined by Col Erica Williams (NCR DCS PD), Col Dave Winters (NCR DCS CP), Col Linette Lahan (KS WG/CC), Lt Col Mark Lahan, SMSgt Mike Mudry (NCR NCO Advisor) and others. The TLC class was filled with enthusiastic members who want to work with our cadets. It was refreshing and very enjoyable to teach this motivated group of members! I ran over my time by about ten minutes but they were doing such a good job on the exercise I didn’t feel I could stop them! Luckily, one benefit of being the region commander is that people tend to give you a little leeway. Our expert team of instructors just adjusted slightly for my overage. The same day, I taught the Commander’s Dashboard, Communication’s Fundamentals, and Leadership Fundamentals at the UCC. The following day I also taught at the UCC covering Finance Fundamentals, Communication’s Fundamentals Part 2, and Developing Our Members. It was a great experience working with this highly motivated group of CAP leaders.

I had a call with Col Mark Smith on the 27th. We talked about how to tweak the new UCC materials based on student feedback. We also talked about the update he would give on our groups work at the Command Council meeting in March in Washington, DC.

As I said earlier, it was a heavy phone call month and a slower travel month. Winters can be pretty harsh in the Midwest, although they have not been this year. Wings tend to plan fewer activities. Generally, I plan on being busy 3 weekends out of four in most months. Since I took command on 28 May 2016, I have had over 600 CAP related phone calls and travelled to about 30 events.

The Annual of the Year Awards were submitted by the wings. We had over 70 submissions this year! Thanks to the wings for nominating their members and to the board for reviewing all those applications and choosing the best members/units in each category. The following personnel will be honored with awards from NCR and nominations will be forwarded to NHQ for competition at the national level:

AFSA Cadet NCO of the Year: C/SMSt Austin Hermanson, Iowa Wing
Cadet of the Year: C/Lt Col Kole Tilson, Missouri Wing
Character Development Officer of the Year: Capt Sylvia Small, South Dakota Wing
Col (Bud) Payton PAO of the Year Award: 1st Lt Soni Cochran, Nebraska Wing
Communicator of the Year, Capt Harold (Steve) Vogt, Missouri Wing
DDR Member of the Year: C/1st Lt Lydia Chanski, Minnesota Wing
DDR Wing of the Year: Minnesota Wing
Director of Finance of the Year: Maj Raymond Phillips, Minnesota Wing
Ed Lewis Incident Staff Member of the Year: 155 Composite Squadron, Nebraska Wing
Frank Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award (Cadet): C/Maj Luke Young, Missouri Wing
Frank Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award (Senior): Maj Ernest Trumbly, Missouri Wing
George Texido Legislative Officer of the Year: Col Kevin Sliwinski, Minnesota Wing
Col Dion DeCamp Ground Team of the Year: Fremont Cadet Squadron, Nebraska Wing
Historian of the Year: 1st Lt Dorothy McKinley, Minnesota Wing
Jack Sorenson Cadet Programs Officer of the Year: Maj John Pineda, Nebraska Wing
Major General Jeanne M. Holm AE Officer of the Year: 2d Lt Glenn Tedesco, Minnesota Wing
Norm Edwards Counterdrug Officer of the Year: Lt Col Marcel Kobberdahl, Minnesota Wing
Professional Development Officer of the Year: Lt Col David Ellis, Missouri Wing
Property Management Officer of the Year: Maj David Proctor, Nebraska Wing
Safety Officer of the Year: Lt Col James Kuddes, Nebraska Wing
Senior Member of the Year: Lt Col Marcel Kobberdahl, Minnesota Wing
Squadron Chaplain of the Year: Maj Chester Strobel, Kansas Wing
Senior Chaplain of the Year: Lt Col Leonard Hale, Missouri Wing
Paul W. Turner Safety Award: South Dakota Wing
Squadron of Distinction: NCR-MO-018 Central Missouri Composite Squadron, Missouri Wing
North Central Region Family of the Year: The Klosterman Family, South Dakota Wing

The region has been busy with Operations and flying. Iowa Wing, Kansas Wing, and South Dakota Wing flew AFROTC orientation rides in our aircraft. Kansas Wing completed 12 ARC missions in February. Minnesota Wing, Missouri Wing, and North Dakota Wing all had ELT missions and finds in February. South Dakota Wing also focused on flying their legislators.

Congratulations to William DiMarsico of MO-102, Marcel Kobberdahl of MN-012, on being promoted to Lt Col.

March began with travel to Washington DC for Legislative Day and the Command Council Meeting. I departed from Kansas City on 1 March. Col John Swain and others offered valuable training for our organization’s leaders that afternoon and evening. Legislative Day is the day that CAP leaders make appointments to visit Congressional Offices on Capitol Hill to talk about key issues of importance to Civil Air Patrol. Each wing commander makes as many appointments as possible in advance and most bring a Government Relations Officer, a cadet, or other members to assist them in sharing what CAP does and how Congress can help us accomplish our missions. On 2 March, members of CAP turned the hallways at the Capitol blue as we all visited congressional offices.

This year, our goals included:
• Full funding for CAP’s FY18 Operations and Maintenance Budget. This funding will allow CAP to purchase aircraft, vehicles, avionics upgrades, communications equipment, and computer upgrades.
• To explain how members of Congress can be members of CAP.
• To invite members of Congress to events celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Cadet Programs.

That evening, we celebrated our successes at a reception. I was able to meet up with Col Jason Bailey of North Carolina Wing and Col Arlinda Bailey of Tennessee Wing. It’s always a pleasure to meet up with relatives who live far away!

Female Leaders met for breakfast and collaboration on 3 March. Lt Col Leslie Vazquez and Lt Col Peggy Myrick organized the event. I was joined by Col Rose Hunt of Wisconsin Wing, Col Arlinda Bailey of Tennessee Wing, Col Linette Lahan of Kansas Wing, Col Martha Morris of Arizona Wing, Col Celeste Gamache of Colorado Wing, Col Carol Lynn of Nevada Wing, and Lt Col Andrea Van Buren of Georgia Wing. It’s always valuable to spend time with other leaders and share experiences and expertise. Thanks to Lt Col Vazquez and Lt Col Myrick for their efforts to plan this event!

The Command Council Meeting began later that morning with comments from MG Vazquez. He highlighted the 75th Anniversary of the CAP Cadet Program. This anniversary is especially meaningful for North Central Region because the Cadet Program began in Minnesota Wing! After opening remarks, we moved on to safety and recognition for members of the Command Council at their first or last meeting. I will be sad to see my friend Col Dan Leclair leave the Command Council. I have learned much from him in the months we served together as region commanders. Thank you for your service Col Leclair! We also welcomed some new region commanders—Col Jon Stokes in Pacific Coast Region and Col Tom Kettell in Rocky Mountain Region. Welcome to the team! The updates provided by NHQ personnel are always helpful. Thanks to all the NHQ staff members who presented! After lunch, each region was given time to meet as a group and work on initiatives. Each member of the NCR team read a chapter of a book on recruiting and retention then shared key information with our colleagues. The book we read was called 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating, and Rewarding Volunteers by Sunny Fader. Recruiting and retention are key topics in CAP so this book was very interesting. Col Linette Lahan (KS Wing) read a chapter that covered problems that can arise when working with volunteers and how to handle them. Col James Garlough (MN Wing) shared wisdom from the book on how to set volunteers up to succeed. Col John O’Neill (MO Wing) talked to the group about empowering volunteers. Col Darrell Nelson (NE Wing) shared how we can create a volunteer friendly environment. Col John Steiner (ND Wing) talked about how to cultivate a long-term commitment from volunteers. Col David Small (SD Wing) shared how we can motivate volunteers. Thanks to all the wing commanders for their preparation and the ideas that were shared. Several commanders were joined by members of their wing or staff for the discussion and business meeting. I would like to thank Col Kevin Sliwinski (NCR/GRO), Lt Col Steve Aubuchon (MOWG/CV), Lt Col Ken Schuler (NDWG/CV), Lt Col Dan Peterson (NEWG/DO), and SM Arthur Weaver (NEWG) for joining the discussion and sharing their thoughts as well. Our group had an assignment to provide input on new initiatives that would improve the CAP experience. Several members of the region sent ideas forward that were tweaked by the commanders and submitted to Major General Vazquez. Thanks to all those who contributed ideas! We finished the day with a town hall type meeting where we discussed leadership issues.

The Command Council Meeting continued on 4 March. We had a few more updates and then an open time for questions of importance. Following the open questions, we went to breakout sessions. I attended a particularly informative session on Operations. Thanks to John Desmarais for his presentation and the valuable information! Following our breakout sessions, the CSAG met with the National Cadet Advisory Council. I always enjoy hearing the opinions and proposals of the CAC. This group is the voice of the cadet program to command. As leaders, we must engage this valuable council and allow them to help shape the next 75 years of the cadet program. C/Lt Col Joshua Klosterman of SDWG serves as the NCR CAC Chair and representative to the NCAC. The NCAC did a wonderful job with proposals on the SDAs, cadet access to information in eServices, test banking for college age cadets, and opening more specialty tracks to cadets.

The evening of 4 March, I attended the Spaatz Association dinner where C/2d Lt Jack Schneider of MOWG earned a Spaatz Association Flight Scholarship. Congratulations, Cadet Schneider! I sat with Col Mark Smith, SWR/CC; Mr. Tom Schubert and his wife; and other region commanders. It was a lovely evening. I also met Mr. Kenneth Goss, Spaatz #39. We reminisced about how powerful our experiences were on the International Air Cadet Exchange. Thanks for your support of CAP and IACE, Mr. Goss! I departed for home on 5 March.

The wrap up WebEx for the UCC was on 12 March. I can’t give the students who took part in this course enough credit for their excellent work. I was blessed with a truly outstanding class of current and future commanders. I very much enjoyed interacting with the students and I can’t wait to see the good work the graduates do in the future for CAP. Congrats to Roger Eaton, Stephen Gillespie, Andrew Harsfield, Valerie Jaffee, Jeffrey Malott, Larry Morgan, John Quinn, Michael Scott, Susan Sennett-Dewitt, David Wallace, and Austin Worcester. Thanks to Lt Col Beth Ryan from Oklahoma Wing for her assistance in teaching the course.

I have several conference calls for the Unit Commander’s Course in March. We talked about how to roll out the Just in Time Workbook as well as how to proceed with updates to the content. For each onsite pilot and in the online course, we gathered a lot of data from students on how to improve the course. In the next few weeks, we will tweak the material and make changes based on the student feedback. Many thanks to all those who made suggestions for course improvement!

On 24 March, I departed for Bellevue, Nebraska for the North Central Region/NE WG Conference. It was a pleasure to join the members of Nebraska Wing for the event. We began our event with a social on Friday night. Cadets and senior members dropped in for snacks and quality time catching up. I met many senior and cadet members. One member I met at the social was SM John Krause. John joined CAP just days before the conference. Welcome aboard, John! Cadets joined Col Steve Kuddes for a table top SAREX that evening also. The cadets did a fantastic job! The conference began on Saturday morning with breakfast meetings. I met with the NCR wing commanders. We talked about a variety of topics including changes in the IG program, Safety, and Operations. NCR/IG Lt Col Jeffrey Morris flew in from his post teaching at West Point in New York to attend. Thanks for your efforts, Lt Col Morris! After breakfast, the conference began with briefings. I briefed on the state of the region and each wing commander talked about his or her wing. I talked about a variety of metrics available in eServices or on the Commander’s Dashboard. Some items are expectations; some were emphasized because it is the 75th anniversary of the Cadet Program. For each metric, I tried to provide some context as to how our region compares to others.

Here are some highlights:
• With just fewer than 4,000 members, NCR is 7th out of 8 regions in size. Our membership goal for 2017 is to be at 4025 by December. This will require everyone to recruit friends, family, and neighbors. It also requires us all to help encourage members who might otherwise leave CAP. On a positive note, NCR is 5th in overall growth, 5th in cadet membership growth, and 1st in senior member growth. Keep up the good work NCR!
• Our goal is to have 3 mission pilots or more per aircraft. IA and ND need to add mission pilots to meet this goal. As a region, we are 5th in this area with 3.07 mission pilots/aircraft. Let’s help more of our VFR pilots (we rank 3rd in this area) become mission pilots!
• Aircraft utilization is an area where we need more emphasis. The goal is 200 hours/aircraft per year. No wing is meeting that goal. South Dakota Wing has the highest use with just over 100 hours per aircraft. Iowa had the lowest at just over 27 hours per aircraft. We rank 5th in this area as a region. We need to fly our aircraft or we may lose some.
• Cadets who get an orientation ride are more likely to stay in CAP. We have two stats that address this in eServices. Iowa Wing leads our region in the percentage of new cadets getting an orientation ride in 180 days. Iowa Wing and South Dakota Wing are both doing well ensuring 70% of cadets or more get an orientation flight. As a region, we are 3rd in orientation ride percentage for new cadets in 180 days and 4th in overall orientation ride percentage. The goal is 70% and our region is at 66.7%. Keep flying cadets!
• Cadets who progress stay in CAP. Senior leaders with TLC lead a stronger cadet program. All NCR wings exceed the goal of 50% of cadets earning the Curry Award in 8 weeks. Most wings exceed the 2 TLC graduations per unit goal. North Dakota Wing needs more members with TLC. As a region, we rank 3rd in the percentage of units with two officers having had TLC and 6th in Curry Awards in 8 weeks. Good work, NCR!
• Aerospace Education is one of our missions. One measure of internal AE is the percentage of units participating in AEX. South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri have good AEX participation. Overall, NCR ranks 5th among the regions in AEX percentage.
• The percentage of Quality Cadet Units in a wing is a measure of success of the Cadet Program. Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri have the highest percentage of QCUs in NCR. Overall, NCR ranks 2nd among the regions in this area. Great work!
• NCR is a great place to be a cadet. NCR leads the other regions in percentage of cadets who earn the Wright Brothers Award. We are within 1% of the national average for Mitchell Awards. NCR exceeds the national average for Earhart Awards. We also lead the other regions in the percentage of Eaker Awards.
• The number of open reports of survey in the region gives us an idea of good stewardship of resources. I am proud to share that we have the 2nd lowest number of reports of survey with 9. In addition, NCR was one of only two regions to complete 100% of its annual inventories on time. Great work!
• Every member can help NCR continue to excel. Recruit and retain members. Focus on the missions. Help cadets fly, promote, and excel. Participate in AEX. Fly and train in Emergency Services. Continue your good stewardship of resources.
• I shared with conference attendees that we can learn a lesson from Lindy, the Missouri Wing mule. I related a story of Lindy getting stuck in a crevice while working in the Logistics section at Pathfinders at Fort Leonard Wood because the Safety Officer failed to do adequate ORM. They just couldn’t get Lindy out and then rocks and dirt started to fall in the crevice. Lindy didn’t despair, hem, haw or complain. Lindy just shook off the dirt and stepped up on it. Pretty soon Lindy was not in a crevice any more. She was eating grass in greener pastures. My challenge to the region is to be like Lindy. Let’s shake off our challenges, step up, and show everyone that NCR is where success is grown!

On Saturday afternoon, I joined conference guest speaker Brigadier General Richard Anderson for an open forum where members could ask questions. It was a nice opportunity to share some of CAP’s initiatives and my experiences with members. It is always a pleasure to work with General Anderson. I first met him when I was a cadet at Region Cadet Leadership School at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. He was then serving as CAP’s National Vice Commander. I have always followed his successes and his work in CAP has always been an inspiration to me. General Anderson is a former cadet who earned the Spaatz Award. He served as Nebraska Wing Commander, North Central Region Commander, National Vice Commander, National Commander, Chairman of the Board of Governors, and more. He currently serves in the legislature in Virginia. It was great to catch up with him. I always learn something when I am around General Anderson! The banquet on Saturday evening was a wonderful event. I had a great time celebrating the successes of the members of our region. The conference planning team did a splendid job and the decorations were beautiful. I sat next to Brigadier General Keith Schell of the Nebraska Air National Guard. He is a great supporter of CAP and I enjoyed chatting with him. I was particularly pleased to see the families of members receiving awards present to celebrate with them. Family support is critical for success, especially for cadets. Thanks to the families of three cadets for the support they provide: C/Lt Col Kole Tilson of Missouri Wing, the NCR Cadet of the Year; C/Major Luke Young of Missouri Wing, the Brewer Award Recipient in the Cadet Category; and C/CMSgt Austin Hermanson of Iowa Wing, the NCO of the Year. I know your cadets also appreciate your support!

After attending the tabletop SAREX on Sunday morning, I departed for home. The first joint North Central Region and Nebraska Wing Conference was a remarkable success. I want to extend special thanks to the host wing and to the planners. On the Nebraska Wing planning team Col Steve Kuddes, Lt Col Madeline Kennedy, Capt Amanda Peters, and Lt Rachel Peters did an amazing job. Col David Plum led the NCR team of Col Tom Theis, Lt Col Bonnie Braun, SMSgt Mike Mudry, and C/Capt Ethan Compton.

Congratulations to South Dakota Wing and Missouri Wing on earning the right to represent North Central Region at the National Cadet Competition this summer.

March was a busy month for operations.
Iowa Wing conducted SAR training.
Kansas Wing conducted AFROTC flights, damage assessment, and 10 American Red Cross missions.
Minnesota Wing conducted SAR training and an ELT search.
Missouri Wing conducted AFROTC and AFJROTC flights, a SAREX, and a flight clinic.
North Dakota Wing conducted SAR training and AFROTC and AFJROTC flights.
Nebraska Wing conducted a table top SAREX and a flight clinic.
South Dakota Wing conducted AFROTC flights and had a find on a missing aircraft search.

Kudos to:
C/Col James Craig on earning the General Carl A. Spaatz Award.
Upcoming Events:
• Region Staff College, Nebraska. Col Steve Kuddes, Director. 17-24 June 2017. For more info email swkuddes@gmail.com
• Region Staff College, Missouri. Major Austin Worcester, Director. 26-31 December 2017. For more info email aworcester@ncr.cap.gov
• AEO School (Joplin, MO). Lt Col Bill Sander, Director. 5-9 June 2017. For more info email William.sander@mowgcap.org

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!

On the 1 st of May, I attended the meeting at Topeka Eagle Composite Squadron. This was a special visit for me to the unit I was a member of as a cadet; it is always nice to come home! The unit meets in a new location but it still had a nostalgic feel. Col Linette Lahan and I joined Chaplain Scot Kerns for a cadet baptism. Members of the unit and the cadet’s family were present for this very special event.

Congratulations to Cadet William Willhite and thank you for allowing us to join you. I also met Lt William Patty, the new squadron commander of KS-035. He is a student in the online Unit Commander’s Course; it was great to put a face with a name! After the ceremony, we observed closing ceremonies at the unit, and I joined Chaplain Kerns and Col Lahan for a late dinner. We talked about CAP and upcoming activities.

May also began with me collaborating with my CSAG colleagues, including Col Ed Phelka, the Great Lakes Region Commander, on some projects with regulations and some items related to Cadet Programs. We have a great group of leaders on the CSAG and always enjoy working with my fellow region commanders on projects; I learn a lot from this insightful group.

On May 4th , I departed for Tennessee for the CSAG retreat. Major Duffy, a member of Tennessee Wing, kindly provided transportation from the airport to the retreat. I arrived at the same time as Col Jon Stokes, Col Tom Kettell, Col John Knowles, and CMSgt Frank Eldridge. After a short ride through the beautiful Smoky Mountains, we arrived at our destination. That afternoon we settled into our cabins before a family style meal in the evening. I shared a cabin with Angela Farris from Financial Management, who I was pleased to get to know over the weekend. We have some amazing staff at headquarters who work very hard to help us. The CSAG had a long agenda for our meeting on 5-6 May. In between serious business, we found time to learn more about two STEM kits. Each member of the CSAG was paired up with an employee from NHQ. We built the hydraulic scissor lift and learned to fly quadcopters for a competition to be held on Saturday. My partner for this was John Desmarais. Lucky for me, John is quite handy and we were able to assemble the scissor lift with few difficulties. I mistakenly released all the water from the system (twice) but John was very patient with me! We practiced our quadcopter flying as well. When the competition came around the next day, our scissor lift performed as expected. Unfortunately, I was not able to land the quadcopter on the scissor lift on the table but John did a good job getting it on the target on the floor. In the end, only a couple Top Guns managed to get the quadcopters landed on the table top target. One of the tasks the CSAG completed at the retreat was to choose the new at-large members of the Board of Governors and Col Brad Lynn and Col Dale Newell were selected. Congratulations gentlemen and good luck in your service on the BoG! We departed on May 7th for home after a very productive retreat. It’s amazing how much work can get done in a few days!

On May 20th , I ventured to Iowa to meet with Major Sue Grant to pick up some uniform items from her. It was cold and rainy. On the way back, I stopped at the Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery to see Rex Glasgow’s monument and say goodbye to an old friend. On the 21 st, we had a Navigating eServices webinar for the Online UCC. Students asked some great questions of facilitator Lt Col Beth Ryan. Beth did a great job showing them around eServices and WMIRs. Trips and tricks were shared. Students provided very positive feedback on the webinar.

I departed Kansas on the 25th for National Staff College at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, where I taught mentoring. Mentoring is a topic I am passionate about and I feel we do not implement it as well as we could in our organization. A solid mentoring program would help our senior retention and member fulfillment. Col Mark Smith, the SWR/CC, taught servant leadership at the school. I have enjoyed working with Col Smith as a member of the Leadership Development Working Group that is reworking CAP Professional Development. I very much enjoyed listening to Mark’s presentation and he was kind of enough to stay and support me in mine as well. We were privileged to hear remarks by Brigadier General Larry Myrick, CAP/CV and Major General Joseph Vazquez, CAP/CC as well. It would be an understatement to say the students enjoyed hearing the generals speak! Several members of North Central Region were present at NSC: Col Tom Theis, NCR/CV; Lt Col Roger Eaton, KS WG; Major Tom Martin and Major David Ellis, MO WG; Major Justin McDowell, ND WG; Major Ron Mutchler, IAWG/CV. Congrats to all the recent graduates! The staff at NSC is an all-star cast including Col Jane Davies, Col Lisa Robinson, Col Sheila Waldorf, Col Jean Desmarais, and Lt Col George Harrison. I met Lt Col Harrison for the first time. What an amazing individual and wonderful asset for CAP! While Mr. Harrison wears the grade of lieutenant colonel in CAP and is quite unassuming in his corporate uniform, it is very apparent he is more than that. One should always be on the lookout for talent in disguise and be good to all people. You never know what lurks beneath the surface you see! Mr. Harrison is a retired Air Force Brigadier General. He shared words of wisdom and thoughts on leadership with the group. Thanks for your thoughtful, insightful comments General Harrison! Ms. Bobbie Tourville from NHQ put in many hours of hard work to support the school as well. I always enjoy working with Bobbie on projects. She is a fellow Spaatz Award recipient and a top notch colleague! Thanks to the amazing staff at NSC who put on a great event for the students and were kind enough to invite me to teach. I returned from NSC on May 28th .

Several members of NCR were promoted to lieutenant colonel in May: Duncan Kiernes, SDWG; Thomas Schuurmans, NEWG; William Strandel, SDWG; and Timothy Willis, MOWG. Congratulations to all the new lieutenant colonels! Thank you to the NCR promotion board let by Col Tom Weston for their work in processing requests in a timely manner.

Col Tom Theis of NCR, Major Justin McDowell of ND WG, Major Thomas Martin of MO WG, Major David Ellis of MO WG, and Major Ron Mutchler of IA WG, earned the Gill Robb Wilson Award in May. Kudos to these officers who have completed the senior program! Like Spaatz Awards, Gill Robb Wilson Awards are individually numbered. This award is the pinnacle of professional development for senior officers.

North Central Region was busy in May with missions! Iowa Wing worked a fly in. Kansas Wing completed 17 transport missions for the American Red Cross, AFROTC orientation rides, and had 2 ELT searches that resulted in one find. Minnesota planned a group SAREX and had a check pilot course. Lt Col Wes McCullough flew up to join MN WG at the check pilot course. Missouri Wing had over 60 air and 15 ground sorties in support of disaster relief efforts due to flooding. North Dakota Wing conducted a missing person search that resulted in a find and a save. Nebraska Wing had their observed exercise.

South Dakota Wing conducted a SAREX and an ELT search that results in two finds! Kudos on job well done to all the teams who participated actively in our Emergency Services mission in May.

June is gearing up to be just as busy as April and May. In June I will visit the NCSAs in the region, Region Staff College in Fremont, Nebraska, and attend National Cadet Competition in Dayton, Ohio.