CAP offers volunteer opportunities to youth, adults
Civil Air Patrol cadets meet former Apollo 11 astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, at a recent Lancaster Jethawks game. The cadets also presented the colors during opening ceremonies. As a non-auxiliary organization with the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol follows a form of military structure. The cadets participate in activities such as drill and formation, reciting the Cadet Oath, Honor Code and Safety Code as well as learn their chain of command. Cadets also receive basic knowledge about flight mechanics and aerodynamics by building rockets and improvised model airplanes. (Courtesy photo)
by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
8/30/2007 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- At the age of 5, a future Civil Air Patrol cadet airman already knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
Civil Air Patrol Cadet Airman Preston Hite, now 13 years old, wanted to be a U.S. military general. How he will accomplish that is up to him, but he is taking things one step at a time.
Cadet Airman Hite heard about Civil Air Patrol during a friend's birthday party. His friend was hosting a party with other CAP members.
"I thought, 'Hey, this is one step closer I can take to becoming a general,'" Cadet Airman Hite said.
With that thought in mind, he joined the Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron 84 here in 2006.
"I feel I accomplished something by joining the Civil Air Patrol," Cadet Airman Hite said.
Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer, non-auxiliary organization of the U.S. Air Force.
"It is a marvelous program for volunteers who want to serve their fellow Americans," said Civil Air Patrol 1st Lt. Connie McCullough, Composite Squadron 84 commander.
There are two CAP programs -- the cadet and senior members program.
"The cadet program allows cadets to mature and grow in a very structured environment," Lieutenant McCullough said. "The senior side allows the senior members to grow."
Parents of CAP cadet members can also join as senior members, she said.
"As parents, we follow our children's activities," she said. "I joined the Civil Air Patrol because my son wanted to join."
Her membership enabled her to have her own job apart from being a mom, she said.
"It gives the members purpose and value," Lieutenant McCullough said.
Finding purpose is one of the reasons why Airman Armand Green, a 95th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, recently joined the organization.
"I just want to help," Airman Green said. "I like helping out young people, trying to lead them in the right direction."
Airman Green learned about Civil Air Patrol through his coworker.
"They do things that we do such as standing in formation," he said. "It is a pretty good organization for children who want to be in the military."
As a non-auxilliary organization with the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol also follows a form of military structure, Lieutenant McCullough said.
During the Squadron 84 meetings on Tuesdays, cadets begin with a drill and formation. In the classroom setting, prior to the cadet sergeant's briefing, they need to recite their Cadet Oath, Honor Code and Safety Code as well as learn their chain of command. Cadets also receive basic knowledge about flight mechanics and aerodynamics by building rockets and improvised model airplanes.
They also are given the opportunity to help the community during Edwards' air shows and other events. They work in information booths, perform trash management and provide parking direction among other things.
During the base's operational readiness exercises, cadets provide support by volunteering to be "victims" during simulated emergencies.
Balancing responsibilities for these cadets is difficult, Lieutenant McCullough said. Sometimes cadets don't make it to the meetings.
"We understand that," she said. "I found out that most cadets learn to manage their time and make it a point to be here because it is fun."
The Civil Air Patrol members have a philosophy of prioritizing the things they need to do, she said. Cadets know that family comes first, school second and their responsibilities for Civil Air Patrol are third.
"I think joining the Civil Air Patrol is the greatest thing I have ever done," Cadet Airman Hite said.
Youths interested in becoming a cadet or adults who want to be senior members in Antelope Valley can join one of the following squadrons: for Antelope Valley Cadet Squadron 15 in Lancaster, call CAP Capt. Vera Swenson at 269-0552; for Pancho Barnes Composite Squadron 49 in Rosamond, call CAP Capt. Barbara Sentner at 256-2991; and for Composite Squadron 84 at Edwards, call Lieutenant McCullough at 823-0391.