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!