Civil Air Patrol

Public Affairs

News from the New Mexico  Wing

Peters Becomes New Mexico’s First Female Wing Commander

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

June 23, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 23, 2019, Col. Annette Peters made history when she became the first female commander of Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing.

The Change of Command ceremony, held at Kirtland Air Force Base’s Mountain View Club, included such dignitaries as Maj. Gen. Kenneth Nava, New Mexico National Guard Adjutant General; and Col. Joe R. Smith, Southwest Region Commander, who presided over the ceremony.

Smith, who had been present at the New Mexico Wing’s OPSEVAL (operations evaluation) exercise the day before, was pleased to report that New Mexico Wing received a rating of Ready – the highest rating a wing can receive – from the CAP-USAF Southwest Liaison Region, who evaluated the exercise.

“It’s the New Mexico Wing, Civil Air Patrol family, that impressed me the most,” said Smith.

Outgoing wing commander Col. Mike Lee recognized those members of his staff for their contributions, presenting them with Commander’s Commendation Awards, Meritorious Service Awards and Exceptional Service Awards.

Especially poignant for Lee was the Commander’s Commendation Award meant for wing legal officer Maj. Alvin C. Jones, who was killed in a bicycling accident in Roswell on May 28, 2019.

“It’s hard to lose anyone,” Lee said, his voice breaking, “but Alvin was a friend of mine. He recruited me into CAP. He is the reason that I am here.” Arrangements were made to send the certificate to Jones’s family.

Lee himself received CAP’s Distinguished Service Medal from Col. Smith, for his outstanding service as New Mexico Wing commander.

Smith then presided over Peters’ promotion to colonel, and the official change of command. The new wing commander acknowledged the contributions of her two predecessors – Lee and National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, who served as wing commander from 2011 to 2015 – and noted that she intends to build on that foundation.

“Our goal, moving forward, is to build on our successes and to raise ourselves to an even higher level,” Peters said.

To that end, Peters appointed Lt. Col. Dean M. Klassy as her vice commander, and will initiate the creation of three groups within the Wing: North, Central and South. Group 800, which oversees the Wing’s School Enrichment Program squadrons, will continue in that area, making a total of four groups within the Wing, and eliminating the need for two vice commanders. The group commanders will report to Klassy, who in turn will report to Peters.

Peters thanked the attendees for their understanding and support, and concluded with her new vision statement for the Wing: “Working together as a team, in all of our missions for our community, state and nation.”

 

Griffith Receives
Gill Robb Wilson Award

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

June 23, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 23,2019, Maj. Gregory Griffith of Albuquerque Senior Squadron II received Civil Air Patrol’s Gill Robb Wilson Award – the highest professional development award that can be earned in CAP.

To qualify, members must hold a command or staff position for three years, serve as a staff member or director of a CAP-approved activity, attend National Staff College and mentor a junior senior member officer, flight officer or NCO to the Technician level in their specialty.

Griffith has been a member of CAP since June 2013. He is currently the squadron’s communications officer, as well as the Wing director of operations.

 

Spirit Squadron Named 2019 Squadron of Merit

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

June 23, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 23, 2019, Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron was named New Mexico Wing’s 2019 Squadron of Merit. Squadron commander Capt. Mary A. Fox accepted the award certificate from outgoing New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee.

The Squadron of Merit Award is presented annually to the squadron recognized as the best in the state. Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron was previously named Squadron of Merit in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

In 2013, the squadron was also named Civil Air Patrol’s Squadron of Distinction, where it was recognized nationwide as the best squadron out of more than 1,500 units.

 

New Mexico Wing Receives Highest Rating of Ready
at Air Force OPSEVAL

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

June 22, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – After three months of preparation, New Mexico Wing Staff was pleased to learn that it had received the highest rating of Ready at the Air Force OPSEVAL (Operations Evaluation) held at Wing Headquarters on June 22, 2019.
The mission, dubbed “Operation Isotope,” was an Air-Force-evaluated search and rescue, disaster relief and counterdrug exercise, supervised by the CAP-USAF Southwest Liaison Region, Southwest Region’s official liaison with the United States Air Force.

The OPSEVAL is held every other year by the Air Force, to evaluate the operational readiness of the Wing to respond to emergency services incidents, as well as how well the mission staff deals with the unexpected.

Three months’ worth of training and preparation went into this exercise, which included SAREXes (search and rescue exercises) on March 17, April 27 and June 15.

Air Force personnel shadowed CAP mission staff to ensure their adherence to rules and regulations, and their ability to think outside the box.

Personnel from Civil Air Patrol’s Southwest Region – which includes the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas – were also on hand to evaluate the effectiveness of the Wing.

At the 10 a.m. mission brief, incident commander Lt. Col. John Grassham reported a missing aircraft, where radio contact was lost between Albuquerque and Los Alamos. Spotty reception made cell phone forensics difficult.

To support the aircrews, ground teams were ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. “Give us the word to deploy,” said ground branch director Lt. Col. Mike Eckert. “We’re ready to go,” he added, referring to the members of his ground teams.

Grassham gave Eckert the order to deploy, and two ground teams were dispatched: one to locate the missing aircraft that had disappeared on the way to Los Alamos, and a second team to respond to a missing person request, on the west side of the Sandia Mountains, in the open space in the foothills of Albuquerque.

Another emergency scenario, as part of the exercise, was the simulated transport of a representative of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), who was reported overdue at the Truth or Consequences Airport.

According to Grassham, the aircraft had failed to check in. New Mexico State Police were alerted, as well as the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. The decision to notify CAP’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team, as well as the Wing Chaplain, was deferred, pending further information regarding the missing persons. Wing Director of Safety Lt. Col. Doug Weitzel was notified of the incident.

Mission base launched aircraft from Las Cruces to help locate the overdue aircraft, while ramp searches were conducted at Socorro, Belen and Truth or Consequences.

The mission began to demobilize at 2:45, when Santa Fe and Taos Composite Squadrons were ordered to stand down, due to the weather. Aircraft in the south were demobilized, with one flight from Albuquerque to Farmington still in briefing.

The rating of Ready was especially meaningful to outgoing New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, who served as administration and finance section chief for the OPSEVAL. This was his last activity before handing over command to Col.-select Annette Peters the following day. 

“I was proud of the way everybody worked together, especially the cadets,” said Lee. “Everything worked pretty much according to plan.”

 

Encampment Prepares Cadets to be CAP Leaders

By Capt. John Keel, CAP
Rio Rancho Falcon Composite Squadron

June 21, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – From June 13-21, 2019, New Mexico Wing held its annual summer encampment at the Oñate National Guard Complex in Santa Fe. Cadets from New Mexico, Texas and Colorado immersed themselves in the week-long activity, that allowed them to learn about leadership, aerospace and CAP as a whole.

Some of this year’s events included the obstacle course, physical training, drill and ceremonies, teamwork exercises and land navigation training. Other events expanded their knowledge, such as the aerospace education classes taught by Lt. Col. Ted Spitzmiller, or the day trip to the Army National Guard Aviation Facility, where cadets were able to explore the Blackhawks and Special Mission Aircraft the New Mexico National Guard deploys all over the world.

This event could not have been successful without the support from the senior member staff. Capt. Mary Fox supported in the finance role, while 1st Lt. William Armijo managed the medical affairs. Maj. James Preidis of Texas provided support in safety as well as in the kitchen with SM Randall Roth. All took time out of their busy schedules to make the encampment a success.

This encampment was the last for Encampment Commander Lt. Col. Maria-Lisa Dilda. Capt. Steven Lindquist will be taking the reins next year, and promises to maintain the positive legacy established by Lt. Col. Dilda.

By the end of the nine days, the cadets had all grown as individuals through the challenges of the events and lessons learned.

 

SAREX Provides Run-up to Air Force OPSEVAL

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

June 15, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – If success is where preparation meets opportunity, then Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing made special preparations to ensure the success of its Air Force-evaluated operations exercise (OPSEVAL) by scheduling three different search and rescue exercises (SAREXes) in the months of March, April and June. The third and final SAREX, on June 15, 2019, provided the Wing with one last chance to prepare for the OPSEVAL on June 22, and whatever crises the Air Force chose to throw in their path.

The Incident Command Post (ICP) stood up for normal operations at 7:30 a.m. local time, with status updates every hour, on the hour. By 10:00 a.m. local time, aircraft had already been launched from Farmington, Las Cruces and Albuquerque, to support photo reconnaissance and air search and rescue sorties. Shortly after the 10:00 a.m. brief, the Farmington aircraft was re-tasked to support photo reconnaissance.

The activity at mission headquarters seemed like organized chaos, as department heads worked to foresee any unforeseen circumstances that could arise from surprise situations that the Air Force could present them with, such as: what if the pilot is out of radio range?

One of the missions of this SAREX, aerial photo imaging, is a relatively new development in search and rescue, according to photo imaging specialist Capt. Mary Fox.

“We are in the process of checking these photos before they are sent to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)” said Fox.

“We are making sure that all photos meet the guidelines for FEMA before we send them,” she added.

In addition to aerial photography, members of the incident command were tasked with a blood delivery and air search and rescue.

Advised by project officer Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock to stay focused on the prosecution of the mission, section chiefs provided hourly updates to incident commander Lt. Col. John Grassham

Inclement weather, reported by aircrews, caused many decisions to be made on the fly, such as redirecting aircraft back to the mission base or to staging areas. Aircraft as far south as Albuquerque were ordered to return to base, due to storm cells that formed in the northern part of the state. Without air support, the ground teams that deployed originally to support the aircrews were given the option to continue their ground team training on their own.

The mission staff had to deal with a great many simulated incidents, including a distraught wife showing up at Wing Headquarters, demanding to know the whereabouts of her husband, who was reported as missing, and a simulated fire, which caused the evacuation of the mission base headquarters building.

Debriefing began at 2:30 p.m. Overall, all processes were planned and under way, but many of them had to be aborted due to the weather, although an aircraft dispatched to locate an emergency locator transmitter near Double Eagle Airport found its objective in half an hour.

Hitchcock concluded, “I am confident the ICP team is prepared to meet the challenges that may be presented by the USAF evaluation team.” A new operations plan was distributed on June 16, for the Air Force OPSEVAL on June 22.

 

Dilda to Command 5th New Mexico Wing Summer Encampment

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

June 12, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – On June 12, 2019, Lt. Col. Maria-Lisa M. Dilda will take command of her fifth summer encampment, held this year at the Oñate National Guard Complex in Santa Fe, N.M., from June 12-21, ending just two days before the appointment of Col.-select Anette Peters as New Mexico’s first female wing commander on June 23.

A longtime member of Civil Air Patrol, Dilda was on the staff of several encampments commanded by the late Lt. Col. Paul J. Ballmer, onetime commander of Eagle Cadet Squadron and Director of Cadet Programs for New Mexico Wing.

“Paul asked me to do CDI (Character Development Instructor), which is what my duty assignment was at Santa Fe Composite Squadron,” said Dilda. “Then I was asked to be a female overnight officer. And then I was a ’glitch’ officer a few times. I took care of the commander and any ‘glitches’ that arose.”

Her main influence, aside from her husband Gary, was her friend and mentor, the late Maj. Kathy Courreges, who passed away in 2014, and who had commanded several encampments before Dilda took the helm.

“I did two before she died,” said Dilda. I wonder how she would feel if she knew I have done five now as commander and eight altogether.” She credits Maj. Courreges’ mentorship with making her the commander she is today.

“She was a great coach,” said Dilda. “She was phenomenal and different. She taught me that you have to have faith in people and let them know it and they will do amazing things.”

Another of her mentors is CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith and his style of servant leadership. “Under his example, we started the NCO Advanced Flight, and that’s how we teach servant leadership,” said Dilda. “Most encampment organizational charts show the commander at the top and the student at the bottom, but my encampment org chart shows the commander – me – at the very bottom, and the students at the top. While we still believe in military organization, we also believe that the member of the encampment with the most experience supports everybody else.”

When asked about her most significant experience as encampment commander, Dilda said, “Two months ago, while driving home, my phone rang. It was a personnel manager from Los Alamos requesting information on a cadet he was interested in hiring. I see about 80 to 100 cadets a year, and they ask me to be a reference. I try to give them confidence in their abilities and potential. I teach them skills and ideas to help them grow”

Her advice to first-time attendees? “Give it a chance,” she said. “The first three days are hectic and stressful, but by the fourth day, you are halfway done, and then the fun starts. You will have become part of a team, pushed yourself beyond your current limits and become stronger than you thought.”

 

Webb Receives Mitchell Award on 75th Anniversary of D-Day

By 1st Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

June 6, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 6, 2019 -the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Allied invasion that marked the turning point of World War II – Cadet 2nd Lt. Shelby Webb received Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Billy Mitchell Award from CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith.

On hand to support Webb were members of her family: her mother and father, Alicia and Jason Webb; her brother Killian; and her aunt and uncle, Rachel and Jason Singer.

Newly-assigned deputy commander for cadets Maj. John H. Brennan presided as master of ceremonies, and introduced Smith, who presented the award to Webb.

Her parents had the honor of removing her cadet chief master sergeant’s stripes and presenting her with her new shoulder boards, signifying the transition from cadet NCO to cadet officer.

The Mitchell Award represents completion of Phase II of CAP’s four-phase Cadet Program. To earn the award, cadets must complete comprehensive tests in both leadership aerospace; pass the cadet physical fitness and drill tests; and attend a CAP summer or winter encampment.

The award carries with it promotion to cadet second lieutenant, advanced placement in the grade of E-3 (airman first class) upon graduation from Air Force Basic Training, and eligibility for CAP academic and flight scholarships. College ROTC programs and the service academies also look favorably upon cadets who earn the Mitchell Award. Approximately ten percent of all cadets at the Air Force Academy have had prior CAP experience.

In addition to receiving her award from Maj. Gen. Smith, Webb also had her name engraved on a plaque listing the names of all cadets who have earned the Mitchell Award since the squadron’s founding in 2005. Cadet 1st Lt. Mark Chappell, who received his Mitchell Award in January, presented the plaque, which will remain on permanent display at the squadron.

Following the presentation of the award, members of the squadron and their friends and families celebrated with a cake in Webb’s honor.

Members of the squadron noted that Webb’s earning the Mitchell Award on the anniversary of D-Day is emblematic of the patriotism shown by all members of CAP.

Webb has been a member of CAP and the squadron since March 2014. She is the second-highest ranking cadet in the squadron.

 

CAP Members Help Make JROTC Camp a Success

By Maj. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

June 6, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – On June 6, 2019, members of both Santa Fe Composite Squadron and Taos Composite Squadron, along with local pilots, helped Santa Fe High School’s Navy Junior ROTC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) camp. Capt. Allan Wood of Santa Fe, Maj. Craig Stapleton of Taos and Maj. Blair Bouchier, also of Taos, gave the NJROTC cadets rides in privately-owned aircraft, as did other pilots. Taos Composite Squadron member 2nd Lt. William Hood, and New Mexico Wing Command NCO Senior Master Sgt. Charles Grosvenor provided tours through the Skyland Aircraft maintenance shop and the control tower at Santa Fe Municipal Airport, respectively.

The cadets also saw MiG-15, L-39, T-33 and Fouga jets at the Jet Warbird Center. Maj. John Graham of Santa Fe Composite Squadron made a CAP Cessna 182 available for static display on the ramp, and explained the benefits of CAP to young people.

Approximately 30 NJROTC cadets, a few of whom were also CAP cadets, participated in the STEM camp, which was organized by Maj. Stapleton, who is also commander of Santa Fe High School’s NJROTC program.

 

Recruiting, Thunderbirds Highlight Air Show

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

May 18, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On May 18, 2019, Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing participated in the Air and Space Fiesta, held at Kirtland Air Force Base, by providing recruiting booths and talking to prospective members about the organization.

The Wing set up a recruiting table in Hangar 333, which normally houses the corporate aircraft used by the wing to fly search and rescue sorties.

A total of eight squadrons participated in the event, including Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, Albuquerque Senior Squadron II, Eagle Cadet Squadron, Los Alamos Composite Squadron, Rio Rancho Falcon Composite Squadron, Route 66 Composite Squadron, Socorro Composite Squadron and West Mesa Composite Squadron.

“We’ve had about six or seven potential cadets, and about two potential senior members,” said Capt. Dan McGregor of Eagle Cadet Squadron, who was in charge of the recruiting table. He said it was an excellent opportunity for cadets to practice their leadership skills and to interact with prospective members. McGregor said it gave the cadets a chance to practice their “elevator speech” – a short description of what CAP is about – to anyone interested in learning more about Civil Air Patrol.

When asked what would happen if an actual search and rescue mission were called, with the Wing’s primary hangar in use, McGregor said, “We have aircraft at Double Eagle Airport and also at Moriarty. We could launch a sortie at a moment’s notice.”

Visitors were able to sit behind the controls of the Wing’s Cessna 206 and Gippsland GA-8 search and rescue aircraft, standing on static display on the flight line.

Wing commander-select Lt. Col. Annette Peters took time out to talk about the importance of the Wing’s participation in the air show.
“The air show has been going very well,” said Peters. “We have a lot of people who are fascinated by our aircraft.”

Peters stressed the importance of CAP getting its message out to the general public. “When people hear about our three missions – emergency services, aerospace education and the Cadet Program – they are blown away by what we do,” she said.

Peters noted that the general public is genuinely grateful for the work done by CAP. “As I talk to people about what we do, they are so grateful that we are out there, searching for aircraft and shaping young people through the Cadet Program.”

Of course, the star of the air show was the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, which performed near the end of the show. In the words of the air show narrator, “The purpose of the air show is to honor the past and inspire the future.”

 

Rio Rancho Falcon Composite Squadron Gets Up Close
With USAF Thunderbirds

By Capt. John Keel, CAP
Rio Rancho Falcon Composite Squadron

May 18, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On May 18, 2019, eleven cadets and three senior members from Rio Rancho Falcon Composite Squadron attended the Air and Space Fiesta at Kirtland Air Force Base. For the squadron, it was a fun activity for aerospace education and team-building.

Cadets enjoyed the static displays, such as the F-35 fighter aircraft, the B-52 bomber and many others. Additionally, the cadets were excited by the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Pavilion set up in New Mexico Wing’s very own hangar. 

The highlight of the day was when USAF Tech. Sgt. Peter Rivera, recruiting liaison for the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, allowed the Falcon Squadron cadets on the flight line to see the Thunderbird demonstration F-16s up close. Cadets got to see Aircraft Number 1, otherwise known as “The Boss,” and speak with the aircraft’s dedicated crew chief, Staff Sgt. Michael Meister. Falcon Squadron was also able to take a group photo with Aircraft Number 1.

As a gesture of thanks, members of the squadron presented squadron challenge coins to Tech. Sgt. Rivera and Staff Sgt. Meister. The cadets who went on this activity will have an experience they will remember forever.

 

Practice Mission turns into Actual Search and Rescue Mission

By Maj. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

May 4, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – On May 4, 2019, the watchword for one aircrew was “flexibility.” For several months, Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing had been planning a SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercise) for that day with the state search and rescue community, to be conducted around Cedro Peak, in the East Mountains area east of Albuquerque. Early that morning, however, a text message went out, announcing that the exercise had been cancelled, due to a real-world search north of Las Vegas. N.M.

The Santa Fe crew – Maj. John Graham, Capt. Dave Staples and Capt. Allan Wood – were scheduled to support the SAREX, and decided to go ahead with their own practice mission in the local area. Cadet 2nd Lt. Forest Nelson and Capt. Alan Eckert provided support as mission radio operators. However, later that morning, Maj. Graham got a call from the CAP mission base in Albuquerque, asking if the crew could support a real-world mission, or REDCAP, with an early afternoon sortie. No further details were available. The aircrew met at the Santa Fe radio room, and the aircraft had already been fueled and ready to go.

The sortie launched around 1:00 p.m., with instructions to proceed to the village of Ojo Feliz, where a search by ground teams from Taos and Santa Fe was underway. The Santa Fe aircrew relieved a crew from Los Alamos, that had been on scene for over two hours.

Approaching the search area, the Santa Fe crew received instructions to search an approximately four-mile by four-mile sloping area that was partly wooded and partly open. The subject of the search was an individual who had become lost while looking for antlers that had been shed by deer and elk.

The1,000-foot AGL (above ground level) search was somewhat challenging, given the afternoon turbulence and the density altitude at 11,000 feet. Around 3:30 p.m., the crew heard a ground team transmission, notifying incident base that the subject had been found. The incident commander released the flight crew to return to Santa Fe.

The flight crew was gratified to be part of a search that ended with a save. As Richard Goldstein of Santa Fe Search and Rescue said, “The reward of seeing people reunited with their families is worth all the work.”

 

Nelson Receives Mitchell Award at Four Winds Ceremony

By Maj. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

April 30, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – On April 30. 2019, Forest Nelson of Santa Fe Composite Squadron received his promotion to cadet second lieutenant and Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Billy Mitchell Award during a Four Winds ceremony, which is based on CAP’s Core Values of Integrity, Excellence, Respect and Volunteer Service, and is reserved for significant cadet officer promotions and awards.

The ceremony began with the posting of the colors by Cadet Airman 1st Class Jonas Bryan, Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Cassie Gravel, Cadet Airman 1st Class Ryan Kennemore and Cadet Staff Sgt. Gabriel Apodaca. Lt. Col. John Gravel, deputy commander for cadets at Santa Fe, gave opening remarks, commenting on Nelson’s leadership qualities and service to the squadron.

Parents Anita and Miles Nelson of Santa Fe pinned on their son’s new insignia, and squadron commander Lt. Col. Angie Slingluff read the citation that accompanies the Mitchell Award.

The Mitchell Award signifies completion of Phase II of Civil Air Patrol’s four-phase Cadet Program. The award carries with it promotion to cadet second lieutenant, and cadets who earn the award receive advanced placement in the grade of E-3 (airman 1st class) upon graduation from Air Force Basic Training. ROTC and the service academies also look favorably upon Mitchell recipients. Approximately ten percent of all cadets at the Air Force Academy have had prior CAP experience.

Nelson, age 18, joined Civil Air Patrol in 2015. Since then, he has served in several cadet staff positions including safety NCO, and most recently, cadet first sergeant. He has attended two New Mexico Wing summer encampments (one as a staff member), as well as the United States Air Force Pararescue Orientation Course (PJOC), one of the most challenging cadet activities available. He serves as vice-chair of the New Mexico Wing Cadet Advisory Council. This summer, he plans to participate in National Blue Beret at the AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., and attend the Air Force Specialized Pilot Training Course at Columbus Air Force Base.

Nelson is a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)-qualified mission radio operator and recently earned a “find” ribbon as the result of an actual search and rescue mission. He now assumes command of a cadre of 17 Santa Fe CAP cadets.

Nelson remarked, “It has been a true honor to be a part of the Santa Fe Composite Squadron for the past three and a half years. I hope to continue the great work we have done so far, and I look forward to my future in the CAP.”

At the close of the ceremony, Nelson and Cadet Col. Dakota Cisneros appointed Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Cassie Gravel as the squadron’s new cadet first sergeant. Cadet Gravel joined CAP in 2015. She has attended two summer encampments, and helps train the squadron’s cadets in drill and ceremonies. An outstanding athlete, she is very active in her school’s basketball program.

 

Civil Air Patrol Provides Key Support in Saving Lost Hiker

By Lt. Col. David Finley, CAP
Socorro Composite Squadron

March 19, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Civil Air Patrol volunteers were key contributors to a multi-agency effort to find a hiker lost in harsh weather and a rugged volcanic landscape. CAP personnel worked with the New Mexico State Police and the National Park Service in a three-day search that found the hiker, a 45-year-old woman, safe and uninjured.

The hiker called authorities about 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, saying she was lost in El Malpais National Monument, a forbidding landscape of basaltic lava flows. Personnel from the National Park Service began to look for her then. Late that night, CAP’s New Mexico Wing was assigned a search and rescue mission by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

The CAP National Cell Phone Forensics Team provided an initial search area, based on analysis of data from the hiker’s phone on Sunday. However, by 9:45 p.m., her phone went silent.

CAP aircrews began flying early Monday, March 18, and over the next two days would fly 15 sorties. CAP ground teams also searched the area. A CAP Mobile Operations Center was brought from Albuquerque to the search area, to expedite coordination of the CAP efforts and liaison with other agencies.

“What we know now is that she moved away from the area from which her first calls were made,” said Lt. Col. Larry Zentner, incident commander for this mission. “She was trying to stay warm by moving, with temperatures getting down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit,” he continued.

The hiker used survival skills used in previous military service during the ordeal, during which she ran out of food and water. At times, she did see aircraft overhead, but was unable to signal the crews.

Her phone was a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and the Sunday calls seeking help used up her available minutes. She then had no way of adding time to her phone, so she turned it off, Zentner said. That made it impossible to track her via her phone signal.

On Tuesday, March 19, the CAP Cell Phone Forensics Team discovered the nature of her phone service. A member of that team immediately used a personal credit card to restore her phone service.

“As soon as her phone came back to life, she called again, and began describing her position,” Zentner said. She told authorities what landmarks she could see from where she stood. Using those descriptions, CAP volunteers identified the hiker’s probable location based on those clues.

A New Mexico National Guard helicopter was dispatched to that area, and “It was that specific spot where the hiker was found,” Zentner said.

“One lesson to be learned is that any cell phone, even if it’s out of minutes, always will work with 911 calls,” Zentner said. “As long as the battery has a charge, it will make a 911 call. Everyone should remember that in case they are in an emergency situation,” he concluded.

 

Cadets Spend Spring Break at Ground Team Academy

By Capt. Bryan Neal, CAP
Eagle Cadet Squadron

March 10, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – From March 8-10, 2018, cadets and senior members of New Mexico Wing took advantage of the spring break to train at the annual Ground Team Academy held at New Mexico Wing Headquarters. This two-and-a-half-day event involved the basic elements of becoming a Ground Team 3 member, the most basic level of training for any member.

Twelve cadets and five senior members from five different squadrons attended the training. Lt. Col. Mike Eckert, New Mexico Wing Emergency Services Training Officer, said it was one of the largest ES classes he has led in the past three years. 

Participating squadrons included Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, Eagle Cadet Squadron, Falcon Composite Squadron, Route 66 Composite Squadron and Route 66 Composite Squadron.  

Ground Team 3 training consisted of academic and practical training on the basics of land navigation, search techniques, direction finding, natural hazards as well as numerous other tasks. The classroom training was always followed up with a hands-on demonstration outdoors, to ensure each student was confident in the trained task. 

The final day of training culminated in a field training exercise, held in the forest area near Cedro Peak. The day started early, with a safety and mission briefing from Lt. Col. Eckert, who was acting as Ground Branch Director. 

Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Casey Neal from Eagle Cadet Squadron, and Cadet 2nd Lt. Mark Chappell from Spirit Squadron were the ground team leaders (GTL) in training, as well as instructors. All student equipment and gear were inspected, to ensure that everyone was ready to participate. Safety was a priority from start to finish. Each student carried about 20 pounds of personal gear, water and additional search and rescue (SAR) gear. 

The training mission scenario was of an overdue aircraft at its destination, which was later discovered to have crash-landed in the wilderness. Students were challenged to use their new direction-finding skills, navigation and search techniques to locate the downed aircraft and the missing pilot. Students also had an opportunity to work with CAP aircraft and aircrew assisting in the search. Students were able to practice their skills with signal mirrors, radio communications and aircraft signals while working with the aircraft. Both teams located the aircraft using their new search and rescue training. 

The training mission concluded at 5:00 p.m., which gave trainees a full eight hours of hands-on training, and approximately three miles hiking through rough terrain with full gear. Not only did both teams locate the crash site and the pilot – for which they received credit for the majority of their training – but Cadets Neal and Chappell became New Mexico Wing’s newest fully-qualified ground team leaders

 

Saul Receives Public Affairs Technician’s Rating,
Promoted to First Lieutenant

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

January 24, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Jan. 24, 2019, Michael Saul of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron received a double honor: earning his Technician’s Rating in Civil Air Patrol’s Public Affairs Specialty Track, and promotion to the grade of first lieutenant.

The Public Affairs Specialty Track consists of three ratings: Technician, Senior and Master. The Technician’s Rating signifies that Lt. Saul has demonstrated, through knowledge and performance, a basic understanding of the fundamentals of Civil Air Patrol’s Public Affairs Program.

To qualify for the Technician’s Rating, members must spend a minimum of six months as a public affairs officer. They must be familiar with CAP regulations, know how to write news releases and take proper photographs, and demonstrate a working knowledge of public affairs and how it relates to both internal public affairs (keeping the squadron informed) and external programs (informing the general public about CAP).

Lt. Saul’s Technician’s Rating was the final requirement for his promotion to first lieutenant, which requires completion of Level II of CAP’s professional development program, a Technician’s Rating in a senior member specialty track and 18 months’ time in grade as a second lieutenant.

Saul has been a member of CAP and the squadron since June 2010, when he joined as a cadet. He transitioned into the senior program in April 2015, and has been assigned as the squadron’s public affairs officer since July 2016.

 

Cisneros Becomes New Mexico Wing’s 27th Spaatz Cadet

By Maj. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

January 15, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. – On Jan. 15, 2019, Cadet Col. Dakota Cisneros of the Santa Fe Composite Squadron was recognized with a formal presentation of Civil Air Patrol’s prized Spaatz Award in a ceremony at the Santa Fe Baptist Church.

Named after General Carl A. Spaatz, CAP’s first Chairman of the National Board and an iconic figure in U.S. Air Force history, the award is Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet award, and also the hardest to earn. Less than one-half of one percent of all CAP cadets ever earn the Spaatz Award.

Cisneros is only the 27th New Mexico cadet to receive the Spaatz Award since its inception in 1964. The award carries with it the grade of cadet colonel.

New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee presented the award to Cisneros.

“Congratulations for your hard work, perseverance, and grit in getting this done,” said Lee.

The ceremony began with posting of the colors by Santa Fe cadets Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Forest Nelson, Cadet Staff Sgt. Gabriel Apodaca, Cadet Staff Sgt. Gabriel Gutierrez, and Cadet Senior Airman Priya Hashem. Lt. Col. John Gravel, Santa Fe deputy commander of cadets, gave opening remarks, recalling a long acquaintance with Cadet Col. Cisneros that went back to when Cisneros was a small boy visiting the mall with his parents.

Three former Spaatz cadets – New Mexico Wing Director of Cadet Programs. Lt. Col. Andrew Selph, Capt. Destiny Maurer of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron and Lt. Col. Beverly Vito of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron – welcomed Cisneros into the Spaatz community. (Cisneros is the 2,216th cadet nationwide to earn the award.) Patricia Dominguez, representing Senator Martin Heinrich, relayed a congratulatory message from the senator.

Parents Jan Cisneros and Marty Somerville of Santa Fe pinned on their son’s cadet colonel shoulder boards as Col. Lee read the award citation. Cisneros also received the Air Force Association’s Outstanding Squadron Cadet of the Year award from New Mexico Wing Vice Commander – North Lt. Col. Annette Peters.

Cisneros, age 20, joined Civil Air Patrol in 2010. Most recently, he has served as cadet deputy commander, leading 16 Santa Fe CAP cadets. He is also a FEMA-qualified radio operator and participated in a May 2018 CAP mission that located a missing aircraft.

Cisneros plans a career in law enforcement with the Santa Fe Police Department. Of the award, he said, “The experiences I’ve had, the friends and family bonds, will be something I’ll never forget. The meaning of the cadet program is to raise tomorrow’s leaders. Now, I am that leader and look forward to the next generation of leaders to come.” 

 

Chappell Receives Mitchell Award

By 1st Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

January 3, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Jan. 3, 2019, Cadet 2nd Lt. Mark Chappell of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit: Composite Squadron received Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Billy Mitchell Award at the squadron’s first weekly meeting of the new year. Presenting the award was CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, a founding member of the squadron.

Chappell, who was officially promoted on Oct. 29, 2018, had just completed New Mexico Wing’s Winter Warrior activity, which ran from Dec. 28-30, 2018, and for which he was cadet activity commander.

The Mitchell Award represents completion of Phase II of Civil Air Patrol’s four-phase Cadet Program. Chappell now becomes eligible for CAP scholarships and grants, as well as advanced placement in the grade of E-3 (airman 1st class) upon graduation from Air Force Basic Training, should he decide to enlist. ROTC programs and the United States service academies also look favorably upon Mitchell recipients, and approximately 10% of all cadets who attend the Air Force Academy have had prior CAP experience.

To qualify for the award, Chappell needed to attend at least one Civil Air Patrol summer encampment, take comprehensive exams in both leadership and aerospace education, and pass a rigorous physical fitness exam. Chappell is also eligible for the grade of second lieutenant, should he decide to transfer into CAP’s adult senior program at age 21.

Chappell has been a member of CAP and the squadron since September 2013. He is currently the ranking cadet officer in the squadron.

 

Winter Warrior Challenges Cadets

By Cadet Capt. Joshua Williamson, CAP
West Mesa Composite Squadron

December 30, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In the waning days of 2018 – from Dec. 28 to Dec.30 – seven squadrons from New Mexico Wing participated in the Winter Warrior activity at Kirtland Air Force Base, which provided cadets with intense physical training (PT) and knowledge in various areas of emergency services and aerospace education.

“Winter Warrior is the only event designed to mentally and physically challenge cadets, while being designed by cadets in the New Mexico Wing,” said cadet activity cadet commander Cadet 2nd Lt. Mark Chappell.

The activity allowed the cadet leaders to choose the location of each activity, write lesson plans and choose their support staff. Senior member input was kept strictly to financial needs, transportation, billeting and guiding the cadet staff when needed.

The command staff was made up of cadets from four different squadrons: Cadet 2nd Lt. Mark Chappell from Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron as cadet activity cadet commander; Cadet Master Sgt. Casey Neal from Eagle Cadet Squadron as cadet deputy commander and NCO in charge of training; Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Forest Nelson of Santa Fe Composite Squadron as cadet first sergeant; and Cadet Capt. Joshua Williamson of West Mesa Composite Squadron as public affairs officer.

These four cadets worked together to make the activity run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and were praised by the senior staff as being the best cadet staff ever to run Winter Warrior.

“Winter Warrior is a fantastic three-day event where cadets can gain confidence, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and surpass their limits,” said Cadet Master Sgt. Neal. “I am proud to have been a participant and commander at Winter Warrior, and I look forward to Winter Warrior becoming a National-level event,” he continued.

From Day One, the cadets who attended Winter Warrior faced many challenges, including the weather, when it snowed for one of the few times in the history of Winter Warrior, which rewarded the cadets with the opportunity to train in the snow.

On the first day of training, cadets checked in, had their bags inspected and were assigned to flights. They were given a briefing by the activity director, Lt. Col. Michael E. Eckert, and then moved onto the lessons: how to pack an ALICE (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Camping Equipment) pack, how to operate a radio and how to use a map and compass. They learned how to plot a course in the field, and how to keep a pace count: first in the classroom, and again in the field, working together in their flights to emphasize teamwork, and were awarded points for successfully completing their exercises.

Day Two began with PT and their first warrior challenge, where cadets continued their training in basic map reading, followed by an aircraft coordination course, where cadets learned how to properly utilize ground-to-air signals to successfully establish contact with a CAP aircraft without using a radio. Again, the cadets worked together in their flights to establish team-building.

Next up was Warrior Challenge Two, which simulated finding a target location, moving the flight to that location and signaling an aircraft to inform them of the flight’s location, thus putting into practice the skills they had learned from the first Warrior Challenge. Cadets were then given basic first aid training, to learn to evaluate an injured person in the field. The cadets also learned litter carry techniques, where they could safely move a crash victim to a safe place, without causing further injury. After receiving training in fire-building and shelter-building techniques came the final Warrior Challenge, where they put together all the training that they had learned over the past two days.

All the cadets who attended passed the Warrior Challenges with flying colors, and walked away with invaluable knowledge of land navigation, aerial aircraft signaling from the ground, radio procedures, treatment of cold weather injuries, shelter building, and most importantly, teamwork.

Participating squadrons included Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron, Eagle Cadet Squadron, Santa Fe Composite Squadron, Socorro High School Cadet Squadron, Thunderbird Composite Squadron, Tony Hillerman Middle School Cadet Squadron and West Mesa Composite Squadron. The staff of Winter Warrior hopes that word of the activity will spread, and will lead to increased attendance in 2019.

 

National Commander Honors Fallen Santa Fe Cadet

By Capt. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – The winter cold did not deter Civil Air Patrol and other organizations from showing their respects to the thousands of veterans interred at Santa Fe National Cemetery.

On December 15, 2018, CAP members from the Santa Fe Composite Squadron laid 108 wreaths on specific veterans’ graves. Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Squadron, Tony Hillerman Middle School Cadet Squadron, and the Los Alamos Composite Squadron also placed wreaths, as did Daughters of the American Revolution and the Blue Star Mothers, who have sons or daughters serving in the military Overall, some 2,100 wreaths were placed, not only by CAP but by other organizations.

Cadet Senior Airman Priya Hashem and Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Forest Nelson, along with two Navy JROTC cadets from Santa Fe High School, provided the color guard. Hashem and Nelson, with Cadet Master Sgt. Cassie Gravel, escorted the Blue Star Mothers as they placed wreaths.

A highlight of the event was an opening address by Maj Gen Mark Smith, CAP National Commander. An Air Force veteran himself, he spoke of the history of veterans’ service, mentioning the Buffalo Soldiers and Navajo Code Talkers buried at the cemetery. Later, he placed a wreath on the grave of Cadet Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hoover, formerly of the Santa Fe Squadron.

Wreaths Across America (WAA) is an annual nationwide tribute that, this year, was also celebrated in Europe. According to the national WAA organization, with each of the nearly 1.8 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths placed, an American hero’s name was spoken out loud so they would not be forgotten. Also, for the first time ever, some 9,387 Maine-made Balsam Fir veterans’ wreaths were placed at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

Wreaths Across America Honors Veterans,
Former Wing Commanders

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SANTA FE, N.M. – On Dec. 15, 2018 – just a little over two weeks since the passing of former President George H. W. Bush on Nov. 30 – members of Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing, along with other organizations, honored the nation’s fallen at the Wreaths Across America (WAA) wreath-laying ceremony at Santa Fe National Cemetery.

While the American flag flew at half-staff in honor of the former President – himself a veteran of World War II – spectators gathered to hear the message of Wreaths Across America: Remember, Honor and Teach: Remember Our Fallen U.S. Veterans; Honor Those Who Serve; Teach Your Children the Value of Freedom.

The ceremony began promptly at 10:00 a.m., to coincide with the noon start time at Arlington National Cemetery, where Wreaths Across America was launched. A combined color guard, consisting of cadets from Santa Fe Composite Squadron and Naval JROTC cadets from Santa Fe High School, posted the colors. Southwest Region Command NCO Senior Master Sgt. Charles Grosvenor, himself a retired Navy chief petty officer, presided as master of ceremonies.

“We thank those who gave their lives to keep us free, and on this day we shall not forget you,” Grosvenor said.

Addressing those veterans who came to pay their respects, he added, “We thank those of you serving us today, and we thank you for your service.”

Members of the Blue Star Mothers, who have sons or daughters serving in the armed forces, and Gold Star Mothers, whose sons or daughters were killed in action, laid wreaths in honor of the six armed services – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine – as well as a wreath in honor of those veterans reported as prisoners of war or missing in action.

“These individuals have never returned to their families or homes” said Grosvenor, his voice breaking. “We shall never forget them.”

Grosvenor then introduced National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, who paid tribute to the veterans who sacrificed their lives for their country. He praised the Navajo Code Talkers – 12 of whom are buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery – as well as the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen, and veterans of all races, noting that sacrifice knows no color.

The formal part of the ceremony concluded with a bugler playing Taps, and a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.” Then volunteers laid some 2,500 wreaths throughout the cemetery. While the cemetery designates certain sections each year for wreaths to be laid, some people have grave-specific requests, which the cemetery does its best to honor.

Lt. Col. Beverly Vito of Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron laid a wreath at the grave of Col. Earl Livingston, CAP, who served as New Mexico Wing commander from 1975 to 1979, and was a personal friend of Vito’s from the time she joined as a cadet in 1964.

Smith, himself a former New Mexico Wing commander, laid a wreath at the grave of Col. Robert Haulenbeek, CAP, who served as New Mexico Wing commander from 1988 to 1991, and who had recently passed away on Dec. 11.

After laying the wreath at the veteran’s grave, the person rendering the honor speaks that veteran’s name out loud, because, in the words of WAA’s Executive Director, Karen Worcester, “In truth, a person dies twice. Once when he stops breathing, and a second time when someone mentions his or her name for the last time.” For a select few, their names were mentioned one more time, and their memory will not be forgotten.  

Spirit Squadron Hosts Annual Awards Banquet

By Capt. Mary A. Fox, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Dec.20. 2018, the Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron held its annual Winter Awards Banquet at their squadron headquarters in Albuquerque. More than 60 guests and members attended the event with Lt. Col. Andrew Selph, Wing director of cadet programs, among the honored guests for the evening.

The event was organized by Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Shelby Webb and Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Olivia Spafford, with senior member guidance by Capt. Karen Barela. Thirteen separate squadron awards were presented at the event, including congratulations to the six Wing level recipients from the November New Mexico Wing Conference. “This was a great event,” said Lt. Col. Selph. “[Spirit Squadron] events are always fun to attend.”

The evening was full of inspiration and joy right from the start. “Why did my family seek out CAP?” said Cadet Sponsor Member Michael Mamawal, master of ceremonies, as he opened the evening’s event. “Because our 81-year-old great-grandmother absolutely loved being a cadet 68 years ago, and she has never stopped talking about it since. Now, more than 60 years later, she and our family are members of this squadron.”

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the cadet-to-cadet “Paper Plate” awards where cadets created a tasteful, inspirational, and fun award for each cadet in the squadron.

“This was an excellent cadet-to-cadet recognition,” said Lt. Col. Michael Eckert, “I am very proud of how the award categories turned out and I hope we are able to keep this part of the ceremony for years to come.”

Wing award recognition was given to Lt. Col. Beverly Vito (Drug Demand Reduction Officer of the Year), Lt. Col. Michael Eckert (Abbott Memorial Decade of Dedication), Captain Karen Barela (Safety Officer of the Year), Capt. Rene Larricq (Aerospace Education Officer of the Year), 2nd Lt. Michael Saul (Public Affairs Officer of the Year) and Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Olivia Spafford (Cadet NCO of the Year).

Squadron Achievement Awards were presented to Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Shelby Webb, Cadet Staff Sgt. Samuel Anderson, Cadet Senior Airman Morgan Raney, and Cadet Airman 1st Class Sarah Roth.

Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Cadet Sponsor Member David Woodward, Cadet Sponsor Member Kurt “Randy” Roth and Senior Member Daniel Godfrey. A special Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Lt. Col. Beverly Vito, a representative of the Heights First Church of the Nazarene, in appreciation of the church’s generosity in allowing the squadron to use their facility for their meetings and events.

Santa Fe Cadet to Receive Spaatz Award

By Capt. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – On Nov. 27, 2018, Cadet Col. Dakota J. Cisneros of the Santa Fe Composite Squadron became the latest New Mexico Wing recipient of Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, named after the first chairman of CAP’s National Board, and Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet achievement.

The Spaatz Award is the most difficult cadet award to earn. To merit the Spaatz, a cadet must have “demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, fitness, and aerospace education,” according to the Spaatz Association website. The exam includes questions on leadership and aerospace, a physical fitness test (to USAF Academy standards), and an essay and oral argument on an issue of “perennial moral debate.”

In the words of Santa Fe Composite Squadron commander Lt. Col. Angie Slingluff, Cisneros “shows mental discipline, is welcoming of change, and has the habit of continual self-improvement. He uses empathy, is articulate and persuasive, and is proficient in explaining complex issues.”

As well as serving as the squadron’s cadet executive officer, cadet deputy commander and recruiting and retention officer, he is a qualified mission radio operator and has participated in squadron exercises and an actual search and rescue mission for a missing aircraft. At his church, he has contributed almost 200 hours with the church’s safety team.

Only one-half of one percent of CAP cadets earn the Spaatz award; Cadet Cisneros’ award number is number 2216, since the inception of the award in 1964. While Cisneros’ promotion to cadet colonel is effective immediately, the formal award presentation will be on Jan. 15 at the squadron’s weekly meeting.

Cisneros said that CAP’s Cadet Program has given him “a better sense of responsibility [that] comes with maturity and learning.” He added, “You understand basic discipline and the self-discipline you carry forward—you’re accountable.”

When asked what made him go for the Spaatz Award, Cisneros said, “You bring in squadron pride with it and show that ‘if he can do it, you can do it. ’” He added that the senior members also get their investment back, and earning the award helps build esprit de corps within the squadron.

At the age of twenty, Cisneros decided to remain a cadet because from his point of view, he wasn’t done yet. He said, “If you stay in as a cadet, especially an officer, you get a double reward from so many different areas of knowledge—balancing budgets, managing yourself, putting together resumes—all of that comes back and gives you a double investment for going out to the working world.” He concluded, “My parting advice for anyone going for Spaatz would be: don’t overburden yourself. As a leader, don’t try to do everything—distribute the load as best you can.”

Cisneros will be missed as he moves on to a career in law enforcement. Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Forest Nelson remarked, “We could not have asked for a better cadet commander.” He called Cisneros a great mentor and a good friend to all the cadets in the squadron. “Many of us will be sad to see him leave but are very proud of what he has achieved,” Nelson concluded.

Selph, Williamson Discuss Cadet Programs

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – During Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing Conference Cadet Programs breakout session on Nov. 3, 2018, New Mexico Wing Director of Cadet Programs Lt. Col. Andrew F. Selph discussed the requirements for squadrons to earn CAP’s Quality Cadet Unit Award. For 2018, a record five squadrons earned the award, while one squadron has earned the award for eight consecutive years.

All cadet and composite squadrons with at least 10 cadets are eligible for the award. The current criteria for the Quality Cadet Unit Award will be based on the unit’s performance from Aug. 31, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019, and include 10 different areas in which the squadron is rated. A full set of criteria can be found at https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/programs/cadets/cpo/quality-cadet-unit-award.

Perhaps one of the most important criteria is for 45 percent of all cadets to attain the Wright Brothers Award, which signifies completion of Phase I of CAP’s four-phase Cadet Program. The award marks the cadet’s transition from airman to NCO, and from that point on, the cadet is expected to be a leader instead of a follower.

Selph asked what the best way was to get cadets to the Wright Brothers Award. One suggestion was for units to host a Cadet Day or Cadet Weekend, which covers all aspects of the Cadet Program: leadership, aerospace and drill and ceremonies.

Other criteria for the award were discussed, such as having the unit retain 50 percent of its first-year cadets, and to have 55 percent of the squadron’s cadets attend an encampment.

Following Selph’s presentation, Cadet Capt. Joshua Williamson, of Albuquerque’s West Mesa Composite Squadron, talked about National Cadet Special Activities (NCSAs) and how to apply for them.

Williamson said that CAP now offers over 30 National Cadet Special Activities, and the best way to apply for them is to go to CAP’s National website, www.gocivilairpatrol.com, and to apply using the NCSA main menu. Cadets are graded on a point system, and if they are approved by their wing commander, they receive a 100-point bonus.

Williamson, himself a veteran of the National Blue Beret special activity in Oshkosh, Wis., cited the benefits of participating in special activities: leadership experience, once-in-a lifetime experiences, and the chance to meet new challenges.

“I highly recommend all cadets to go on NCSAs,” he said.

Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron Gives Back to Veterans

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – On Dec. 15, 2018, cadets and senior members of The Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron participated in the 2018 Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony at The Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Squadron commander Capt. Mary A. Fox and advisor to the commander Lt. Col. Beverly A. Vito organized this event and made it happen. Upon arrival in Santa Fe, the squadron’s cadets and senior members directed traffic for the visitors to park before the cemetery’s opening ceremony.

The National Commander of Civil Air Patrol, Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, was one of many speakers who reminded people to Remember, Honor and Teach: Remember those who had either fallen while serving the United States of America, or who had passed away due to something else; Honor their sacrifices; and Teach about what they have done to allow Americans to enjoy the freedoms that they have today.

A bugler played Taps in honor of the fallen. Once the ceremony had ended, members went to certain parts of the cemetery to lay wreaths at the graves of veterans. Upon arrival at a grave, the member read the Information of the veteran being honored, presented the wreath and saluted the veteran, who cannot be with his or her family for the holidays.

Socorro Composite Squadron Tours Very Large Array

By Lt. Col. David G. Finley CAP
Socorro Composite Squadron

SOCORRO, N.M. – On Oct. 27, 2018, as part of an aerospace education field trip, members of the Socorro Composite Squadron visited the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope, where they received an in-depth guided tour of one of the world’s premier astronomical research facilities.

“The VLA is only 50 miles from Socorro, so this was a great opportunity to learn first-hand about this facility, how it works, the scientific research it does, and the career opportunities it offers,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Hunter, squadron commander.

The VLA, dedicated in 1980, consists of 27 dish antennas, each weighing 230 tons, spread across the high desert of the Plains of San Agustin in west-central New Mexico. The naturally-emitted radio waves coming from celestial objects such as stars, galaxies, supernova explosions, and many others, are collected by all the antennas, then combined electronically to make the entire system work as a single, giant telescope.

Astronomers from around the world use the VLA, a facility of the National Science Foundation, to study nearly every type of astronomical object known. Data from the VLA contributes to hundreds of scientific research papers published every year. The VLA also is known for its appearances in movies, documentaries, TV shows, and news articles. It draws some 25,000 tourists every year.

During the tour, squadron members and their families got a close-up look at one of the VLA’s giant antennas, explanations of the electronics at the heart of the system, and a visit to the control room, where operators control the array. They learned how astronomers get to use the VLA and how they then process the data from the system to produce highly-detailed radio images of celestial objects.

“We felt it was particularly important for our cadets to learn more about this major research facility that’s practically in our back yard. The staff and users of the VLA are making possible important scientific discoveries, and our cadets got to see that rewarding STEM careers can be found right here in New Mexico,” Hunter said.

Also during the tour, members learned that the VLA employs not just scientists and engineers, but also technicians, mechanics, machinists, electricians, business and administrative specialists, educators, and numerous other personnel.

“This was a valuable experience for our cadets. They not only learned about astronomy and electronics, but found out that an advanced research facility like the VLA needs employees with a wide range of different skills. That means there are numerous potential job opportunities for cadets with a variety of interests,” Hunter said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Guided tours of the VLA are offered regularly, and group tours can be arranged with advance notice. For details, see the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s web site:

https://public.nrao.edu/visit/very-large-array/ ) 

2018 New Mexico Wing Conference Explores a Variety of Topics

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Over the weekend of Nov. 2-4, 2018, Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing held its annual conference at the Wyndham Hotel and Suites in Albuquerque.

The conference was an opportunity for cadets and senior members from all over the state to meet, mingle and catch up on the latest developments in CAP.

Festivities began the evening of Nov. 2, with a no-host reception for the senior members, and a Cadet Ball for the cadets, where they could, with minimal senior supervision, enjoy a meal with their peers, including trips to the Grog Bowl for good-natured infractions of the rules of the Mess.

Saturday’s activities began the morning of Nov. 3, with the General Session. The Eagle Cadet Squadron color guard posted the colors, and the invocation was given by New Mexico Wing Chaplain (Maj.) Randolph Nolen.

The General Session began with an update from Civil Air Patrol National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, who reported on how the organization was doing and his vision for the future.

Smith started off by saying that CAP saved 155 lives during the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. Members flew over 850 search and rescue missions, and made innovative use of technology, to include radar and cell phone forensics in locating subjects.

“The basics of search and rescue haven’t changed, but our technology has allowed us to save more lives,” Smith said.

Smith touched on a variety of program areas, and the steps National Headquarters is taking to improve them, such as increasing funding for cadet orientation flights, providing funds for cadets to attend a flight academy who would not otherwise be able to do so, and creating a separate Cyber program for senior members and folding cyber operations into the emergency services program area.

Smith also focused on the importance of diversity and inclusion, and how it is tied to CAP’s core value of Respect.

Smith mentioned the increase in Aerospace Education members, and how CAP’s Aerospace Connections program is now being implemented in 48 of CAP’s 52 wings.

Finally, the general focused on the importance of growing CAP’s NCO program, the need for professionalism and his vision for CAP: “One Civil Air Patrol, excelling in service to our nation and our members.”

New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee then took the time to recognize those individuals and units who excelled in what they did during the past year. He presented New Mexico Wing Assistant Director of Communications Griffyn G. Lane with Civil Air Patrol’s Gill Robb Wilson Award, the highest professional development award that can be earned by a senior member.

Lee also recognized a record five squadrons – Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, Eagle Cadet Squadron, LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron, Los Alamos Composite Squadron and Santa Fe Composite Squadron – for earning Civil Air Patrol’s Quality Cadet Unit Award. Lee gave special recognition to Spirit Squadron, since this is the eighth year in a row that they have earned the award.

Lee also recognized New Mexico Wing counterdrug officer Lt. Col. Alan Fisher for making the wing’s counterdrug program the best in the nation for 2018

Lee called the conference bittersweet, since the 2018 Wing Conference will be the last one he presides over as wing commander, since his term of office expires in June 2019.

Before adjourning to breakout sessions, Smith had the enviable task of presenting Cadet Col. Destiny Maurer with CAP’s Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – the highest award that can be earned by a cadet.

That evening, at the awards banquet, individuals and units were recognized for outstanding duty performance during the past year. Maj. Gen. Smith, as guest speaker, spoke of the need for a common vision, a common mission and a level of excellence everyone in CAP can be proud of. “If we can each be trained individually, then squadrons, then wings, then Civil Air Patrol, imagine how effective we would be,” Smith said.

Lane Receives Gill Robb Wilson Award

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Nov. 3, 2018, at Civil Air Patrol’s annual New Mexico Wing Conference, Lt. Col. Griffyn G. Lane, of New Mexico Wing Headquarters, received CAP’s Gill Robb Wilson Award from New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee.

The Gill Robb Wilson Award is the highest professional development award that can be earned.by Civil Air Patrol’s adult senior members. It represents the completion of the fifth and final level of CAP’s professional development program.

To qualify for the award, senior members must serve in a command or staff position for at least three years, serve as a staff member or director of a CAP-approved professional development course, mentor a junior officer or NCO to a Technician-level Specialty rating, and attend CAP’s National Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

The award is named after Gill Robb Wilson, noted aviation writer and poet, who saw the need for a civilian air corps after returning in 1938 from a writing assignment in Nazi Germany, where he discovered that only military aircraft were allowed in the air. He presented his plan to Gov. Charles Edison of New Jersey, who approved the idea. Wilson’s New Jersey Civil Air Defense Services became the model for the national Civil Air Patrol. Upon CAP’s founding on Dec. 1, 1941, Wilson became the organization’s first executive officer.

Lane has been a member of CAP since June 1997. She currently serves as New Mexico Wing’s Assistant Communications Training Officer and Assistant Director of Communications.

Maurer Becomes New Mexico Wing’s 26th Spaatz Cadet

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Nov. 3, 2018, at its annual New Mexico Wing Conference, Civil Air Patrol’s National Commander, Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, presented Cadet Col. Destiny Maurer of Albuquerque’s LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron with CAP’s Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – the highest cadet program award that can be earned by a cadet.

Maurer joins an elite group of cadets who have earned the Spaatz Award. Since its inception in 1964, less than one-half of one percent of all CAP cadets ever earn the award. Maurer is the 26th cadet from New Mexico Wing, and the 2200th cadet nationwide, to earn the award.

The Spaatz Award represents the culmination of all four phases of CAP’s Cadet Program. Cadets must pass a grueling four-part examination, which includes closed-book exams in both aerospace and leadership, a character development essay, and a comprehensive physical fitness test. Cadets who pass the Spaatz exam – which they are only allowed to take three times – earn the grade of cadet colonel, and are eligible for a senior rating in the Cadet Programs Specialty Track, as well as promotion to captain, if they transition into CAP’s senior member program at age 21.

Maurer has been a member of CAP and the squadron since May 2009. She is currently the chair of the New Mexico Wing Cadet Advisory Council, as well as an active member of the CAP New Mexico Wing Balloon Crew.

Socorro Composite Squadron Contributes to Fly-In’s Success

By Lt. Col. David Finley, CAP
Socorro Composite Squadron

SOCORRO, N.M. – On Sept. 22, 2018, the Socorro Composite Squadron and other New Mexico Wing members provided key support for the Capt. Laura S. Haines M Mountain Fly-In at the Socorro Municipal Airport.

The event featured local and visiting aircraft for static displays, skydivers, a formation-flying demonstration, and informational booths about CAP and aviation, as well as food and music.

“This is one way we reach out to our community to recruit and promote not only CAP, but also aviation in general,” said squadron commander Lt. Col. Dennis Hunter. “This event is designed to be fun for families and young people and to give them the message that our local airport is a valuable asset to our community,” Hunter added.

The static displays included a CAP glider and the Wing’s Gippsland GA-8 aircraft. Members staffed a booth next to these aircraft, answered numerous questions about CAP and its programs, and handed out recruiting material. For many visitors, the display was their first exposure to CAP and its missions, including the opportunities the Cadet Program offers to youth.

Other organizations worked the fly-in as well. The New Mexico Aviation Division staffed a booth with information about flying in New Mexico. The New Mexico Chile Flight, a group of pilots flying Van’s RV airplanes, arrived in formation, leaving smoke trails as they passed the runway prior to landing. Once on the ground, the pilots stayed busy answering questions. When the time came for their departure, they provided another demonstration of formation flying before leaving the area.

Skydivers from the New Mexico Freefall Alliance entertained the crowd with simultaneous jumps by multiple skydivers. In what has become a trademark of Socorro’s fly-in, their first jump included a skydiver with a large American Flag banner. As this giant display slowly descended, musician Doug Figgs sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the event’s opening ceremony.

During the event, a Challenger business jet landed, bringing in one hunter from Chicago and picking up another for the return trip. This large aircraft added to the crowd’s excitement, and also illustrated the airport’s economic importance to the community.

The fly-in is a city-sponsored event, financed by Socorro’s tourism division. Members of the Socorro Composite Squadron volunteer as coordinators and support staff, providing aviation expertise and manpower to the city. Two of the squadron’s officers also serve on Socorro’s Airport Committee.

The M Mountain Fly-In was first held in 2008. Laura S. Haines, a retired Boeing 747 captain for the Atlas Air cargo carrier, was a leading organizer of the event. She worked closely with officials from the City of Socorro, and with local CAP members to organize and conduct the event. In 2015, when Capt. Haines passed away, the city officially renamed the event the Laura S. Haines M Mountain Fly-In.

“Getting people, and particularly young ones, excited about aviation and all the opportunities it provides, was a passion of Laura’s. We’re happy to honor her legacy every year with this fly-in,” Hunter said.

Santa Fe Composite Squadron Assists with AOPA Fly-in

By Capt. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – On the weekend of Sept. 14-15, 2018, Santa Fe Composite Squadron assisted the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) at their annual fly-in at Santa Fe Regional Airport.

The event was a chance to make Civil Air Patrol’s missions and community service opportunities known to many, and with 4,300 attendees, the squadron had a chance to tell its story. Santa Fe Composite Squadron commander Lt. Col. Angie Slingluff represented CAP at the local planning meetings, with her public affairs staff coordinating preparations for the CAP information table and aircraft display. Dozens of visiting pilots and local community members stopped by the table to ask about Civil Air Patrol.

CAP event setup and takedown, aircraft marshaling and parking, and volunteer support. Southwest members from Santa Fe and other units volunteered to help AOPA with Region Command NCO Senior Master Sgt. Chuck Grosvenor, wearing a bright orange and yellow vest labeled “Air Boss,” coordinated movement of planes in and out of the display area. Senior member Dave Staples and Cadet Airman Basic D’Andre Williams showed their enthusiasm by washing the CAP display aircraft the Tuesday before the fly-in. The crew of CAP’s hot-air balloon Integrity showed up early Saturday morning, although winds prevented the inflation of the balloon.

Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Rollins, Cadet Senior Airman Gabriel Apodaca, Cadet Airman 1st Class Gabriel Gutierrez and Cadet Airman Milo Bryan served as the color guard for the official Saturday morning opening. More than one fly-in attendee stopped by the information table to say how great a job the cadets were doing.

A highlight of the fly-in was watching young people light up with fascination and enthusiasm as they looked over the CAP Cessna 182 on display. A 13-year-old girl stared at the aircraft’s instrument panel for a long time, and then said quietly, “I want to join Civil Air Patrol.”

The squadron looks forward to seeing her.

Spirit Squadron Hosts New Mexico Wing Open House

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Aug. 30, 2018, Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing held an Open House, hosted by Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, at the squadron’s headquarters at Albuquerque’s Heights First Church of the Nazarene.

The guest of honor was New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee, who was joined by his two vice commanders, Lt. Col. Annette Peters, Vice Commander-North, and Lt. Col. Jim Steele, Vice Commander-South. Also representing the Wing were Lt. Col. Roland Dewing, Director of Aerospace Education, Lt. Col. Andy Selph, Director of Cadet Programs, and Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer.

Participating squadrons included Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron, Eagle Cadet Squadron, Santa Fe Composite Squadron and West Mesa Composite Squadron.

The purpose of the Open House was to stimulate interest in Civil Air Patrol for both adults and teenagers, by showcasing CAP’s three missions: aerospace education, emergency services and the Cadet Program.

The festivities began with a pass in review, with Col. Lee as the reviewing officer, where a combined four squadrons, plus Wing Headquarters Staff, demonstrated their proficiency in drill and ceremonies. Following the pass in review, guests adjourned to the church’s foyer, to look over the static displays and to ask questions of both senior members and cadets.

Outside, in the church’s parking lot, was a Merlin 05 glider, formerly of the United States Air Force Academy, that the Wing uses for its glider orientation flights. Cadets who join CAP are entitled to five free orientation flights in powered aircraft, and another five free glider orientation flights before their 18th birthday. New Mexico Wing Director of Cadet Programs Lt. Col. Andy Selph also grilled hot dogs for the guests.

Inside, static displays covered different aspects of Civil Air Patrol, including CAP’s CyberPatriot program, as well as a table that showcased vintage CAP uniforms and equipment. Spirit Squadron commander Capt. Mary Fox, who also acted as emcee for the evening, explained that all tables were manned by cadets, who were available to answer any questions the guests had.

“When cadets are trained in a specialty, they become an expert in that specialty, and we trust them to do their job,” Fox said.

Fox invited the cadets to speak about their specialties and how they related to CAP’s missions. Most of the cadets mentioned how their involvement in CAP had helped them to become better leaders.

Fox also touted the squadron’s record of having sent five CAP cadets to the United States Air Force Academy.
“If you want to go to the Air Force Academy, CAP is a great place to start,” said Fox.

Fox also mentioned that Spirit Squadron has a member whose daughter is currently attending the Air Force Academy, and that the squadron periodically holds orientation sessions for parents interested in sending their son or daughter to a service academy.

While Fox naturally wanted attendees to join Spirit Squadron, she reminded parents that if they found another squadron that was closer to them or a better fit, they were welcome to join that unit.

Col. Lee talked about the benefits of the Cadet Program, and announced that Cadet Col. Destiny Maurer of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron became the 26th cadet in New Mexico Wing to earn Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, the highest award that can be earned by a cadet. Less than one-half of one percent of all CAP cadets ever earn the Spaatz Award. Since the award’s inception in 1964, only 2,200 cadets have received the award.

Maurer will have the award formally presented to her at the New Mexico Wing Conference in November.
“I think that CAP has the best youth program in the nation,” Lee said.

New Mexico Wing Named for Top Counterdrug Program of 2018

By Lt. Col. Alan Fisher, CAP
Las Cruces Composite Squadron

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – On Aug. 22, 2018, New Mexico Wing was recognized as having the best counterdrug (CD) and homeland security program in the nation, at Civil Air Patrol’s National Conference in Anaheim.

With border immigration and security in the news so much lately, New Mexico Wing has played a significant part in securing the border. CAP has participated in the Counterdrug program since 1985, and has made substantial contributions to the counterdrug effort. CAP’s counterdrug mission has evolved to include homeland security, and has focused on border security, adapting its resources of aircraft and CD crews.

Counterdrug operations are very sensitive and highly visible to both media and public awareness. Control and oversight are extremely important at all levels of the program. Agencies involved in counterdrug and border security operations include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Joint Task Force-North (JTFN) and law enforcement agencies.

Civil Air Patrol has been tasked with providing air support for detection, monitoring and reconnaissance of illegal border activity. Current funds are primarily allocated to the four states that run along the southern border: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Since the 1990s, New Mexico Wing has been active in border security operations such as Felix Spade, where CAP aircraft were used to fly the border and provide targets for U.S. air defense intercept proficiency. Over the past five years, the wing has been active in border patrol, flying with law enforcement agencies to support CBP ground operations, monitoring illegal drug trafficking and undocumented aliens. This year, New Mexico Wing has flown over 1,800 hours, with nearly 200 sorties and with more than 30 CD-qualified CAP members involved.

Participation in CAP counterdrug operations is restricted to senior members over age 21. All CD members must be emergency services qualified, have at least two years’ membership experience, and be approved by the wing counterdrug officer, the wing commander, and the National Operations Center. Additionally, CD crew members must complete several orientations and a legal briefing before actively participating in counterdrug operations.

Secretary of the Air Force, National Commander both Have Ties
to New Mexico

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Aug. 22, 2018, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson gave the keynote address at Civil Air Patrol’s National Conference in Anaheim, Calif., which ran from Aug. 20-23. Members of New Mexico Wing were doubly pleased, because both Wilson and CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith have ties to New Mexico.

Longtime residents of the state will remember Wilson as a member of the House of Representatives from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Before being elected to Congress, she served as cabinet

secretary for New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), which is responsible for foster care, adoption, juvenile delinquency, children’s mental health and early childhood education.

Smith was a charter member of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron from its founding in July 2005, and commanded the squadron from January 2006 to March 2008. He served as New Mexico Wing Vice Commander from 2009 to 2011, and as wing commander from 2011 to 2015. He commanded CAP’s Southwest Region – which includes the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas – before being appointed National Commander in 2017.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, Smith’s successor, was pleased to hear of Wilson’s appointment as Secretary of the Air Force in 2017. “This conference was special because Maj. Gen. Smith came before me, and when I found out that Heather Wilson was appointed Secretary of the Air Force, I was absolutely blown away,” Lee said.

Addressing 700 members and guests, Wilson also talked about her ties to CAP, and how her grandfather, George C. “Scotty” Wilson, joined Civil Air Patrol in 1941, after flying in Britain’s Royal Air Force, and later barnstorming across America. The elder Wilson became one of 125,000 subchasers during World War II, who as a whole sighted 173 German submarines and attacked 57 of them. Although there is no confirmation that CAP sank any submarines, its Coastal Patrol was partly responsible for causing the withdrawal of the German submarine fleet from American waters in 1943.

In 1948, the same year that CAP became the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Wilson’s grandfather became New Hampshire Wing commander, serving in that positon until 1954.

Turning to the present, Wilson praised the organization for performing 90 to 95 percent of all inland search and rescue operations directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, saving about 100 people a year. Since the fiscal year began in October 2017, CAP has saved 146 people.

“That’s 146 people who got to make that phone call home to say, ‘I’m all right. Civil Air Patrol found me,’” Wilson said.

Lee was pleased to be guided by the leadership of his fellow New Mexicans.

“They are two very honorable people, and it is an honor to serve with such people,” Lee said.

Three Members of New Mexico Wing Receive Region-Level Awards

By New Mexico Wing Public Affairs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On July 5, 2018, New Mexico Wing Headquarters announced that three members of the Wing were named the best in their fields for 2017, for the six-state Southwest Region, which includes Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas Wings.

All three recipients were named best in New Mexico Wing at the 2017 Wing Conference, and their accomplishments were forwarded to Region Headquarters for further consideration.

The annual recipients “are being recognized for their very significant contribution to our organization, communities and nation,” said Southwest Region commander Col. Joe Smith.

Maj. Glenn Mauger of Socorro Composite Squadron was named Southwest Region’s Communicator of the Year, and Lt. Col. David Finley, also a member of the Socorro Squadron, was named the Region’s Public Affairs Officer of the Year. Lt. Col. Beverly A. Vito of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron was named the Region’s Drug Demand Reduction Officer of the Year.
Both Mauger and Finley are charter members of the squadron, which was founded in 2007.

Mauger has served as the squadron’s communications officer since its founding, and became New Mexico Wing’s Director of Communications in 2016. He has an extensive background in electronics, radio communications and computers, starting with a part-time job in a radio and TV repair shop as a high school student. He worked for IBM for more than three decades, and for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro for 13 years.

In addition to his work with CAP, he also volunteers for Socorro County’s Emergency Management Office as a radio communications expert. Mauger is a veteran of the Ohio National Guard.

The Communicator of the Year Award recognizes a current member who has made a significant contribution to the CAP Communications Program as a whole.

Finley served as commander of the Socorro Squadron from 2007 to 2015, and also handled public affairs for the squadron. He was public affairs officer for New Mexico Wing from 2009 to 2016, and currently serves as Southwest Region historian. Finley worked as an editor and writer for the Miami Herald for more than 11 years, and edited the newspaper’s science and medicine section.

He worked in publications and management roles for firms serving the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I. He has been Public Information Officer for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro since 1992. He is a past president of The Albuquerque Astronomical Society and the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce. Finley is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Colonel Robert V. (Bud) Payton Public Affairs Officer of the Year award recognizes the PAO who epitomizes the public affairs program of CAP, and provides outstanding and exemplary support for CAP’s missions.

Mauger and Finley both are amateur radio operators, and in addition hold commercial radio operator licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Both also are past presidents of the Socorro Amateur Radio Association.

Vito is a charter member of Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron and its founding commander, commanding the squadron from July 2005 to January 2006, and again from March 2008 to May 2012. She has been a member of Civil Air Patrol since 1964, and was the second cadet in New Mexico Wing to receive the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, the highest award that can be earned by a cadet.

She served as New Mexico Wing Transportation Officer from 2007 to 2011, and also serves as the squadron’s administrative officer and advisor to the commander.
She is a recipient of the Gill Robb Wilson Award, the highest professional development award that can be earned by a senior member.

The Drug Demand Reduction Officer of the Year Award recognizes a current member who has made a significant contribution to CAP’s Drug Demand Reduction Program.

“We are proud of the outstanding work these award winners do,” said Col. Mike Lee, New Mexico Wing Commander.

Taos Composite Squadron Honors Aviation Pioneer Wally Funk

TAOS, N.M. – During the weekend of July 27-28, 2018, Civil Air Patrol’s Taos Composite Squadron honored aviation pioneer Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, at the Air and Space Weekend hosted by Taos Ski Valley and the squadron at the Taos Regional Airport. 

Funk was born on Feb. 1, 1939, in Las Vegas, N.M., but grew up in Taos. Her childhood consisted of skiing, riding horses and riding her bike. When she was five years old, she jumped off a barn in a Superman costume, thinking it would make her fly; instead, she fell into a haystack. At age 16, she got her solo pilot’s rating, and at age 20, she became a professional aviator. 

Funk always wanted to be an astronaut, and in 1960, she became part of the Mercury 13, a group of female astronauts who were subjected to the same battery of tests as the original Mercury Seven. She gave a review of the testing done at Lovelace Clinic to evaluate women for space travel, and while Mercury 13 never came to fruition, she went on her air and space journey to fly and to teach flying. Some of the locals at the airport had the privilege of learning to fly from her. 

Funk became the first woman to become an Air Safety Investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the first Federal Aviation Agency (later Administration) inspector. She has over 19,000 flying hours, and has taught over 3,000 people to fly.

The event honoring Funk was attended by many locals, including members of the Taos Squadron: Lt. Col. John Fair, who gave a short presentation about CAP and its Cadet Program; 2nd Lt. Jessica Caskey; Cadet Senior Airmen Aaron Cline and Nicholas Lujan; and members of the Ninety-Nines, a women’s pilots’ organization which had Amelia Earhart as one of its charter members. The squadron shot off fireworks to honor Funk, and the Town of Taos honored her with a proclamation declaring July 28, 2018 as Wally Funk Day.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Joan Pond is a resident of Taos, and a longtime friend of Wally Funk)

Operation Pave Hawk Focuses on Joint Training

By 1st Lt William Van Nostran, CAP
Clovis High Plains Composite Squadron

SANTA ROSA, N.M. – During the weekend of Aug. 3-5, 2018, Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing participated in Operation Pave Hawk, a multi-agency exercise that focused on joint training to achieve common search and rescue objectives which typically occur in New Mexico.

The exercise was set up as a Unified Command, following the Incident Command System authorized by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration), with Area Command Headquarters at Santa Rosa Lake State Park.

In addition to CAP, participating agencies included New Mexico Search and Rescue (NMSAR), New Mexico Army National Guard, New Mexico Air National Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Boy Scouts of America, New Mexico State Parks Department, the American Red Cross and multiple emergency agencies.

Teams from each agency specialized and trained in their respective disciplines. Civil Air Patrol provided air search and rescue and ground teams, and were evaluated by CAP SET (Skills Evaluator Trainer) officers. Similarly, participants of other agencies were evaluated by their own evaluation officers. The objective of the exercise was to increase operational readiness and communication between the various agencies while operating under the Unified Command.

The situation for the training exercise was a weather system, referred to as an “Anvil” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a superstorm that had developed large rain-producing cells, hail, and lightning, with downdrafts of up to 40 knots at Santa Rosa Lake State Park.

The system produced large-scale flooding in an area with possible structural damage to the dam at nearby Santa Rosa Lake, with large numbers of campers, hikers and groups in the area becoming isolated and lost. An aircraft was reported flying in the area, and multiple roads were damaged. The weather event had stretched local agencies to their limits. The Area Command requested Civil Air Patrol for photo reconnaissance, and the governor of New Mexico issued an order for CAP, the National Guard and NMSAR to provide disaster emergency services.

The mission began with a briefing from Mr. Paul Sanchez, Deputy Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), at Area Command Headquarters.

Sanchez said, “My involvement with the mission was to give a ‘USACE Briefing’ on the mock exercise,” where he outlined the scenario and how the various agencies should work together in a real-life emergency.

According to Sanchez, the briefing lasted approximately 20 minutes, where commanders and volunteers received information about the weather event, with multiple units being dispatched to the training area of operations known as “Riley Ranch,” to search for victims of the flood and get them to safety.

Aircraft, horse teams and ground teams worked together to locate lost person groups. Direction-finding aids were used to locate Practice Emergency Locator Transmitters and Practice Personal Locator Beacons.

Training included medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) flights by the Army National Guard’s 140th Aviation Regiment based in Santa Fe. The MEDEVAC subjects were Air Force personnel from the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base.in Clovis. The 9-line MEDEVAC calls – used by the Army to refer to soldiers who need medical attention – originated from and were supported by the Army National Guard 720th Transportation Company based in Santa Rosa. CAP and Army National Guard ground teams provided litter carry teams to the Blackhawk helicopters for mission support. The activity concluded with the pilots from the aviation regiment offering orientation flights to both CAP cadets and senior members.

Providing his final thoughts on the activity, Mr. Sanchez said, “Operation Pave Hawk was a unique situation where different agencies were able to train together and work together in an emergency situation.” He added, “It gave everyone the chance to experience new training, and it made people aware that events like an Anvil can happen, but ultimately gave everyone the opportunity to prepare themselves, if such an event did occur.”

Santa Fe Color Guard Recognized for its Service

By Maj. Angie Slingluff, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – On May 28, 2018, Santa Fe Composite Squadron, in conjunction with Navy JROTC cadets from Santa Fe High School, presented the colors and served as escorts for Blue Star Mothers (those who have sons and daughters currently serving in the military), and other veterans for the laying of wreaths at Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Participants for the wreath-laying included Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros, Cadet Airmen 1st Class Gabriel Apodaca and Carley Gravel, and Cadet Airmen Milo Bryan and Gabriel Gutierrez. The squadron was also asked to participate at another wreath-laying in Angel Fire, but was unable to manage that request.

Santa Fe Composite Squadron’s Color Guard has been practicing drill for many months, and their efforts are being noticed in the community. Since April, the Santa Fe Color Guard has posted the colors in many venues, from the gymnasium at Santa Fe Community College to Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Thanks to the training provided by the Color Guard’s cadet leaders – Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros and Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Forest Nelson –all cadets are learning drill and ceremonies. Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Ben Rollins is learning how to follow in their footsteps as drill master.

In April, the Color Guard presented the colors twice for the Gerald Clay Memorial Basketball Tournament at Santa Fe Community College. On Friday evening, April 6, the cadets who presented the colors included Nelson, Rollins, Cadet Tech. Sgt. Cassie Gravel and Cadet Airman 1st Class Carley Gravel. The following Saturday morning, April 7, cadets who presented the colors included Cisneros, Nelson, Cadet Airman 1st Class Gabriel Apodaca and Cadet Airman Gabriel Gutierrez.

In May, at the invitation of eighth-grade graduating student Apodaca, Santa Fe Composite Squadron presented the colors at the Monte del Sol Charter School graduation, which gave them a chance to also present CAP to the many family members and friends who packed the auditorium. Presenting the colors were Cadets Cisneros, Nelson, Apodaca and Cadet Senior Airman Priya Hasham.

The squadron considers it a privilege to serve the community in the best traditions of Civil Air Patrol.

Cadets Brave the Heat for 2018 Encampment

By Cadet Capt. Cynthia Wagoner, CAP
Farmington Composite Squadron
Encampment Assistant PAO

SANTA FE, N.M. –The 2018 New Mexico Summer Encampment began on June 21, 2018, and concluded on June 29, at the Oñate National Guard Military Complex in Santa Fe, under the command of Lt. Col. Maria-Lisa M. Dilda. This year’s encampment lasted 10 days, which allowed the cadets to receive more training,

Both students and staff agreed that the encampment was a great experience, because it brought together cadets and senior members for a week full of the best the cadet program has to offer.

At this year’s encampment, cadets and senior members came from Texas, Colorado and Florida, in addition to the Wing’s own New Mexico cadets. The cadet encampment commander, Cadet 2nd Lt. Cameron L. Cases of Socorro High School Cadet Squadron, along with her cadet staff, was tasked with providing the cadet students with an experience they wouldn’t forget. Cadets also went on several aerospace education trips as part of the total encampment experience

Again this year, the Cobra NCO flight was included to allow even more leadership opportunities and experiences for cadets with a little more experience. The NCO flight drilled with facsimile parade rifles, for an honor guard presentation at the conclusion of encampment

Due to high temperatures in the 90s, lack of laundry facilities and the need to keep cool, cadets spent most of their time in PT gear, but wore their blues for the graduation parade, which, according to cadets and senior members, went very well.

Senior Members Provide Critical yet Silent Support for
New Mexico Encampment’s Success

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico 2018 Summer Encampment was held at the Oñate Military Complex, a United States Army facility in Santa Fe, from June 20-29. Cadets and senior members were housed in the Forward Operating Base (FOB), in military barracks consisting of Quonset huts, which were referred to by the Army as “Little Baghdad,” since they resembled the barracks troops were housed in during Desert Shield, Desert Storm and the Gulf War. The Santa Fe barracks are powered with solar energy from a solar farm on base.

Summer encampments are part of CAP’s Cadet Program and are generally held annually during the summer months, to provide younger cadets (referred to as students) the opportunity to learn and practice the basic skills of being a CAP cadet. Cadets who have graduated from a previous encampment have the opportunity to practice their leadership skills as members of the Cadet Staff, or Cadre. Adult senior members (ages 18 and over) provide the resources needed to keep the program running smoothly: meals, safety, counseling and First Aid Services. For the second year in a row, the encampment had a therapy dog, Major Princess, to help special needs cadets cope with the stress of encampment.

Of the many senior members who supported the encampment, three of them talked about their support for the encampment.

Flight Officer Jonathan Preidis transitioned to senior member status in April 2018 (and as such, wears his own unique grade insignia until age 21, when he will become a full senior member). The previous year, as a cadet from Texas, he served as a cadet staff member of last year’s New Mexico Summer Encampment. Preidis, who plans to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), served as part of the Encampment Medic Team. He saw his participation in the encampment as not only an opportunity to practice his career of choice, but also as an opportunity to compare leadership strategies between the two wings.

“My goal for Encampment this year was to actively help make the entire program extraordinary for both senior members and cadets. I believe the staff, as a whole, met that goal,” Preidis said. “This year.” He emphasized, “has been extraordinary.”

Capt. Jason Clark, commander of the Carlos F. Vigil Middle School Cadet Squadron in Española, considers leadership as a skill that comes from all directions. He explained, “Leadership is more than management. It involves communication, understanding the chain of command, learning various management personalities and most importantly, putting all those items together to become the leader that you need to become.”

Clark’s role as the encampment’s Deputy Commander for Cadets allowed him to give advice and guidance to the cadet staff, as they practiced their own leadership and management skills, which reflected each cadet’s individual personality.

Senior Member John Colón, also from Texas Wing, served as the encampment’s information technology (IT) and logistics officer. As a first-time staff member, he received a bird’s-eye view of the entire encampment, seeing how all the staff positions worked together. “The cadets seemed to have a good time, and the senior members worked diligently to keep the activity stable.” Colón also designed and prepared this year’s encampment graduation certificates for presentation on the last day.

Squadrons providing support for this year’s encampment included the Carlos F. Vigil Middle School Cadet Squadron, Farmington Composite Squadron, Socorro High School Cadet Squadron, and Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron, with additional support from Texas Wing’s Lubbock Composite Squadron. Members collaborated to successfully complete the encampment, under the command of Lt. Col Maria-Lisa M. Dilda of Santa Fe Composite Squadron.

 

Santa Fe and Taos Crews Find Missing Aircraft

By Capt. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – On May 26, 2018, Civil Air Patrol flight crews from both Taos Composite Squadron and Santa Fe Composite Squadron responded to search for an aircraft that went missing approximately 30 miles east of Santa Fe. Air Traffic Control had lost contact with the aircraft, a Beechcraft D-17 Staggerwing biplane, as it was en route to Albuquerque.

The Taos crew, with pilot Maj. Craig Stapleton and crew members Lt. Col. Mike Olsen and 2nd Lt. David Weaver, were dispatched in the early evening. They conducted a visual search of the area until they ran out of daylight. Using a Becker direction finder, the crew was able to pick up an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) beacon signal to determine approximate coordinates for the missing aircraft.

The crew from Santa Fe, with mission pilot Capt. John Graham, mission observer Maj. Angie Slingluff and mission scanner Lt. Col. Brad Jones, was sent to confirm the ELT location. It was later determined that the average of ELT coordinates radioed from Maj. Slingluff was only 551 feet from the actual crash site. The Santa Fe crew remained on scene until an Air Force rescue helicopter from Kirtland Air Force Base arrived at approximately midnight, and discovered the Staggerwing in a low-level search.

Maj. Slingluff, the commander of Santa Fe Composite Squadron, remarked, “I was surprised and pleased that we were able to so quickly pull together a crew and had a pilot who was night current.”

The Santa Fe crew, this time with mission observer Capt. Ken Stewart, returned to the site on May 27 to photograph the crash site. Though the missing aircraft was difficult to spot visually, and turbulence made photography a challenge, Lt. Col. Jones successfully obtained images of the crash that were provided to the New Mexico State Police.

The pilot of the Staggerwing, a well-known figure in California aviation, did not survive. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) paid tribute to him in a May 29 online article.

The CAP crews were rewarded by knowing that their training and expertise helped bring closure to those who knew him.

Santa Fe Composite Squadron Cadets Receive Special Recognition

By Maj. Angie Slingluff, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. –On May 1, 2018, Santa Fe Composite Squadron said thank you to its leaders of tomorrow for their service – both in and out of CAP – by presenting Certificates of Appreciation to the following cadets:

Cadet Maj. Dakota
Cisneros,

Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Forest Nelson,

Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Rollins,

Cadet Staff Sgt. Cassie Gravel,

Cadet Airman 1st Class Carley Gravel,

And Cadet Airmen Gabriel Apodaca and Gabriel Gutierrez.

These cadets were recognized for being especially active in the squadron and have worked hard to advance their education and training rapidly, which makes them part of the long and storied legacy of Civil Air Patrol

Apodaca and Gutierrez, as the two youngest cadets, both demonstrated outstanding service and performance of duty since joining the squadron.

Both Cadet Airman 1st Class Gravel and Cadet Staff Sgt. Gravel were recognized for their work as members of the squadron’s Color Guard.

Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Rollins, one of two aerospace noncommissioned officers for the squadron, was recognized for his wind tunnel project and his continued work in the ULA (United Launch Association) drone competition.

Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Nelson has been an active member of the community, and in addition to CAP, volunteers his time with the New Mexico Game and Fish Department and the Santa Fe Humane Society. He also attended Civil Air Patrol’s Pararescue Orientation Course (PJOC), which includes training in land navigation, survival techniques, rock climbing, rappelling and other skills used in rescue operations. With over 60 hours of community service, Nelson also earned CAP’s Community Service Ribbon.

In addition to their certificates, all cadets received an Air Force Association challenge coin in recognition of their service.

Cisneros was recognized for his dedication and commitment to CAP. He has been a member of CAP since 2010, and has steadily and consistently pursued his professional development, thus far receiving 14 promotions and completing all 16 achievements of CAP’s Cadet Program. He participated in two summer encampments and serves as cadet executive officer and cadet administrative officer for the squadron.

Cisneros was selected for CAP’s Cadet Officer School (COS) at CAP’s National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Completion of COS makes him eligible to earn Civil Air Patrol’s Ira C. Eaker Award, which signifies completion of Phase IV of CAP’s four-phase Cadet Program, and carries with it promotion to the grade of cadet lieutenant colonel.

In addition, if Cisneros should decide to transition into the adult Senior Program at age 21, the Eaker Award would also make him eligible for promotion to first lieutenant and he would receive credit for Level II of CAP’s five-level Professional Development program.

Cisneros was also recognized for providing community service outside of the squadron, including 333 hours of service to his church as a safety and security servant. . In recognition of his service, Cisneros was given a U.S. Air Force F-22 challenge coin, in honor of the F-22 fighter jet, which can reach speeds of Mach 2 with an estimated altitude ceiling of 50,000 feet.

The commander and staff of the squadron believes this spirit of servant leadership, among all the cadets recognized, best embodies CAP’s Core Values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence and Respect.

Three Cadets from New Mexico Wing Selected for
Cadet Officer School

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 22, 2018, Civil Air Patrol’s National Headquarters announced that three cadets from New Mexico Wing were selected to attend CAPs Cadet Officer School (COS) at Maxwell Air Force Base, which will run from June 29 to July 6, 2018.

Representing New Mexico Wing will be Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros of Santa Fe Composite Squadron, Cadet 1st Lt. Christina Matthews of Albuquerque’s Thunderbird Composite Squadron and Cadet Capt. Heidi Darsey of Eagle Cadet Squadron, also located in Albuquerque.

Of particular note is the fact that this year, COS will mark its 50th anniversary, when it started in 1968 as the Cadet Leadership School at Reno-Stead Air Force Base in Nevada. There were three two-week sessions, beginning in mid-June and ending in early August. A total of 242 cadets graduated from the inaugural CLS. In 1970, the name of the activity was changed to “Cadet Officer School” and moved to its present location at Maxwell Air Force Base.

Currently, COS is open to cadets who have earned Civil Air Patrol’s Mitchell Award – which carries with it promotion to cadet second lieutenant – and will cover a 10-day period of leadership training and development.

COS’s location at Maxwell Air Force Base – also the home of Air University and professional military education for the U.S. Air Force – makes it the ideal venue for developing cadet officers’ leadership skills.

For the 2018 COS, 108 cadets from 35 wings – representing the top 15 percent of CAP cadets – are scheduled to attend the event.

Civil Air Patrol National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, an Air Force Academy graduate, former New Mexico Wing commander and Southwest Region commander, is a huge supporter of the school, which itself is patterned after the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School.

“This is one of the top professional development opportunities available to America’s youth,” said Smith, who plans to visit the activity some time while the school is in session.

The cadets selected from New Mexico Wing represent the best of the best. Cadet Maj. Cisneros has been a member of Santa Fe Composite Squadron since November 2010. He currently serves as the unit’s cadet public affairs officer. He is also a recipient of CAP’s Amelia Earhart Award, which signifies completion of Phase III of CAP’s four-phase Cadet Program, which entitles recipients to participate in the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE), where cadets stay at the homes of families of cadets in other countries, tour their aerospace facilities and learn about their culture.

Cadet 1st Lt. Matthews has been a member of CAP and Thunderbird Composite Squadron since March 2014. She is also a recipient of the Mitchell Award, which signifies completion of Phase II of the Cadet Program, and entitles recipients to apply for academic and flight scholarships offered through CAP, as well as advanced placement in the grade of E-3 (airman first class) upon completion of Air Force Basic Training.

Cadet Capt. Darsey has been a member of CAP and Eagle Cadet Squadron since January 2013. She is also a recipient of the Earhart Award.

New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee was impressed with the selection. “I am pleased these outstanding cadet will represent New Mexico at Cadet Officer School,” he said.

Lee added, “Their diligence and desire to improve themselves will mold them into productive and outstanding citizens.”

Socorro Commander Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

By Lt. Col. David G. Finley, CAP
Socorro Composite Squadron

SOCORRO, N.M. – Dennis Hunter, commander of the Socorro Composite Squadron, was promoted to the grade of lieutenant colonel in a ceremony on May 17, 2018. The commander of CAP’s New Mexico Wing, Col. Mike Lee, traveled to Socorro to perform the ceremony.
Hunter has been squadron commander since 2015. He joined CAP in 2008 and served in numerous staff positions and as a deputy commander prior to assuming command. He also has participated in a variety of activities at the statewide level, including serving as Safety Officer for operations in which the New Mexico Wing was formally graded by U.S. Air Force evaluation teams. He received high marks from the evaluators in those operations.

Members of the squadron staff were unanimous in their praise for Hunter, saying that he exemplifies CAP’s core value of volunteer service by taking on any job that was needed, and that his promotion was well-deserved..
New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee agreed with the squadron’s assessment of Hunter. “Dennis Hunter stands out. I know if I need something, I can count on him to get the job done,” Lee said. 

New Mexico Wing Participates in Multi-Agency Exercise

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – On April 14, 2018.Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing participated in a multi-agency search and rescue exercise (SAREX) at the Las Cruces Municipal Airport. Other agencies that participated included Doña Ana County Search and Rescue, the Las Cruces Fire Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The exercise, known as Operation Chaos, was developed by DHS as a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, set up under the Unified Command of the Incident Command System (ICS), with area command under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico State Police.

Lt. Col. Shirley Kay served as incident commander for Civil Air Patrol, which provided aerial reconnaissance, as well as air and ground search and rescue.

The exercise formally began at 8:45, with a press briefing by the exercise director, Lt. Ron Schulmeister of the Las Cruces Fire Department. According to Schulmeister, a drug smuggler’s vehicle was discovered along a border highway in southern Luna County, which required the services of the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Civil Air Patrol, as well as local search and rescue teams. Additionally, local long-term care facilities exercised their emergency plans to find Alzheimer’s patients who had wandered away from their facilities.

Schulmeister stressed that since this was an evaluated exercise, that team members should verbalize their thought processes to give evaluators a better idea of the reasons behind what they were doing.

Mission objectives were divided up among the various agencies, with Civil Air Patrol providing aerial reconnaissance, search and rescue and drug interdiction.
Schulmeister noted that a real-world crisis would supersede the training. The decision to suspend all or part of the exercise would be at the discretion of the exercise director.

Civil Air Patrol was directly evaluated by members of HQ CAP-USAF, which acts as the liaison between Civil Air Patrol and the United States Air Force.

Lt. Col. Kay was impressed with the effort put forth by cadets and senior members. “The CAP members had good training, and their interaction with other agencies was good for everybody involved,” she said. Altogether, 162 individuals participated in the exercise – 74 CAP and 88 non-CAP. Cadets and senior members from all over New Mexico came to Las Cruces, from as far away as Roswell and Albuquerque, and even one cadet came from as far as El Paso, Texas. Other members participated remotely, from staging areas in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Edgewood and Clovis.

Over 150 people from 10 different agencies participated in 11 different scenarios, which included cliff-side rescues, lost college students in the desert, and ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) rollovers.

According to Lt. Col. Alan Fisher, the Air Operations Branch Director for the exercise, “CAP staff and community agencies did get valuable training and a chance to exercise their communications and staffing command and control procedures.” He added that the exercise should be an annual event for the Las Cruces community, and that CAP proved to be vital to the capabilities of responding to emergency services, disaster relief and other community needs.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, who also provided support at the Incident Command Post, was also impressed with how well the agencies worked together.
“This is the first time we have had a SAREX of this size, with this many agencies, and this is a tremendous benefit to both CAP and these agencies,” Lee said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Lt. Col. Alan Fisher of Las Cruces Composite Squadron also contributed to this article.)

Security Forces Squadron Hosts Open House at Kirtland AFB

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – On Mar. 31, 2018, members of Kirtland Air Force Base’s 377th Weapons System Security Squadron (WSSS) – known informally as The W – hosted an Open House at Kirtland Air Force Base, with static displays of their squad cars, Humvees and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles).

The Open House was the idea of Airman 1st Class Conley Drake, USAF, a former CAP cadet from Georgia Wing, who was a cadet in Georgia for seven years. He has been in the Air Force for eight months, and as a former Mitchell cadet, entered active duty in the grade of E-3. He found out about New Mexico Wing from the Wing’s Facebook page, and immediately contacted several of the Albuquerque squadrons – Eagle Cadet Squadron, Thunderbird Composite Squadron and Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron – to talk to the cadets, tell them about the benefits of both Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force, and for a way to give back what he has learned.

“This is a great way for me to give back to CAP, which has given so much to me,” Drake said.

Assisting Drake was Airman 1st Class Zach Thomas, a former Air Force JROTC cadet for three years, who rose to the position of Cadet Group Commander and the grade of cadet major.

The Open House began in the main briefing room of New Mexico Wing Headquarters, with an Operational Risk Safety Briefing (ORSB) by Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros of Santa Fe Composite Squadron. The cadets then moved outside to the parking lot, where they had actual hands-on experience with the static displays, which included two Humvees (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle), with facsimile M-294 automatic rifles mounted in the turret; a squad car with working lights and siren; and an ATV, for off-road patrolling. Airman 1st Class Erin Sherrold, also a member of the Security Forces, gave cadets a ride in the squadron’s ATV.

Cadets also got to handle facsimile copies of the weapons used by security personnel. “We’re glad to come here and show cadets the stuff that we use on a regular basis,” said Airman Anthony Anderson of the 377th Security Forces Squadron.

After a lunch provided by New Mexico Wing Director of Cadet Programs Lt. Col. Andrew Selph, afternoon activities consisted of traffic stops, challenging a vehicle and person searches.

Airman Drake has already received positive feedback from both Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force, and says that another Open House is being planned for the near future.

Las Cruces Composite Squadron Hosts Open House at NMSU

By Lt. Col. Alan Fisher, CAP
Las Cruces Composite Squadron

LAS CRUCES, N.M – On Jan. 27, 2018, Las Cruces Composite Squadron had a community information event at New Mexico State University (NMSU), at the Horseshoe, the open area on the University’s main campus. The “Great Start” event provided a great way to get to know what Civil Air Patrol offers the community, youth and adults in service and leadership opportunities in the aerospace arena.

The activities included a tethered flight of the Wing’s hot air balloon, Integrity, a static display of a CAP glider and flyover by one of the Wing’s Cessna 172 search light aircraft.

The Civil Air Patrol is a non-profit, volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. In addition to its Cadet Program, which offers aerospace and leadership training for young men and women between the ages of 12 and 20, CAP educates community adults about the value of aviation, and performs lifesaving humanitarian missions.

Las Cruces Composite Squadron meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at the Las Cruces International Airport.

Taos Composite Squadron Reaches Out to Underprivileged Youth

By Lt. Col. John A. Fair, CAP
Taos Composite Squadron

TAOS, N.M. – On Mar. 6, 2018, members of Taos Composite Squadron reached out to the underprivileged youth of the community by hosting a field day on the tarmac of Taos Municipal Airport. The field day benefited the students of Vista Grande High School, who are enrolled in the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program.

The afternoon was both educational and fun-filled, with students driving down the runways with airport personnel, learning about airport operations and climbing on the Town of Taos heavy maintenance equipment. They also got to view a Civil Air Patrol aircraft, learn about the forces of flight and meet the members of Taos Composite Squadron. The highlight of the day was when they got to watch the scramble and launch of the airport’s emergency medical helicopter.

Squadron commander Capt. Michael McCann praised the activity, saying that it was a great way for Taos underprivileged youth to enjoy the field day hosted by the squadron.

Longoria Steps Down, Weitzel Assumes Command
of Albuquerque Senior Squadron II

By Capt. Ryan Stark, CAP
Albuquerque Senior Squadron II

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Mar. 12, 2018, Lt. Col. Douglas P. Weitzel took command of Albuquerque Senior Squadron II, at the squadron’s headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base. In a ceremony led by the New Mexico Wing’s Vice Commander for Southern New Mexico, Lt. Col. James W. Steele, Weitzel accepted command from Maj. Edward Longoria, the 56-member squadron’s commander since June 2015.

Weitzel, a CAP member and part of Squadron II since 2012, is a retired U.S. Air Force command pilot and currently works as a contract simulator instructor for the Air Force’s MC/HC-130J aircraft.

“It is a true honor to lead this squadron that serves as the tip of the spear for CAP air operations in New Mexico,” Weitzel said of taking command. “I know that I join with all our members in making sure that whenever there is a need to put planes in the air, we will be ready.”

“There is a long tradition of integrity, excellence, service and respect in this squadron’s history,” Weitzel added, alluding to CAP’s four core values. “It is my goal to continue that long tradition and make our state proud.”

Weitzel, who has previously served as the squadron’s safety officer and operations officer, holds a CAP senior pilot rating and has completed Level III of CAP’s five-level professional development program. He also serves as the squadron’s assistant operations officer, as well as director of safety for the New Mexico Wing.

Longoria, a CAP member since 2011, is a U.S. Navy veteran, commercial pilot and a flight instructor. He, too, has attained Level III of the CAP professional development program, is a senior pilot and has won numerous honors, including New Mexico Wing’s awards for operations officer of the year and public affairs officer of the year

Squadron II was formed just after CAP began during World War II. Since its inception, the squadron’s primary focus has been air operations, namely search-and-rescue and disaster response. Many of the squadron’s members are pilots. And, generally speaking, around one-third of the aircraft assigned to CAP’s New Mexico Wing – Cessna 172s, 182s and 210s, as well as a Gippsland Aero GA-8 – are under the care of and operated by Squadron II at any given time.

Members have participated in numerous, important missions, including recovery efforts for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Harvey last year, blood transport missions following the September 11 attacks and countless search-and-rescue missions across the southwest, among many others.

In addition to emergency services, Squadron II members support other aspects of CAP’s mission. Although, as a senior squadron, Squadron II does not have any cadet members, pilots in the squadron provide orientation flights for New Mexico Wing cadets, giving many their first taste of flight. They also provide tow flights for unpowered gliders operated by CAP, taking the gliders into the air and then releasing them. And squadron members serve in numerous roles in the area of aerospace education, sharing the history and science behind air and space power.

Los Alamos Cadet Receives Mitchell Award

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP
Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – On, February 5 2018, Los Alamos Composite Squadron cadet Silas Morgan achieved a milestone when he received the General Billy Mitchell award and was promoted to cadet second lieutenant. Since 2010, Los Alamos Composite Squadron has presented nine cadet recipients with the Billy Mitchell Award. Typically, only 15% of cadets reach this achievement.

The Mitchell Award marks the completion of Phase II of CAP’s four-phase cadet program. Morgan is now eligible for CAP academic and flight scholarships and grants, as well as advanced placement in the pay grade of E-3 (airman first class) should he choose to enlist in the Air Force.

Morgan, age 15, also participates in the CAP CyberPatriot program. According to Morgan, “I’m hoping to get into the computer programming and math part of cyber security.” This is his second year participating on a CAP CyberPatriot team, and his team did extremely well in the state competition.

Morgan is part of a family that participates in CAP. His parents Keith and Roena Morgan are senior members, and his older sister, Flight Officer Hannah Morgan, is the Deputy Commander for Cadets in The Los Alamos Composite Squadron.

Also promoted at the ceremony was Gavin Robles, age 12, to the grade of Cadet Senior Airman. Robles, who hopes to become a pilot, commented, “I like being in the cadet program. The CAP program has helped me a lot.”

Spirit Squadron Safety Officer Praised for her Leadership Skills

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In Civil Air Patrol, safety is the number one rule. On Jan. 11, 2018, Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron Safety Officer Capt. Karen M. Barela presented an operational risk management (ORM) briefing, which taught squadron cadets and senior members about the need to assess risk in all activities.

For example, during PT (Physical Training), Operational Risk Management includes the dangers of exercise. One danger is dehydration, so part of ORM suggests that prior to exercise participants must drink water to avoid dehydration. Not only did Barela commit to teaching this ORM lesson, but by doing so, she kept the squadron in fulfillment of regulation expectations, since all squadrons ORM training is due by Mar. 31 each year.

Lt. Col. Michael E. Eckert, squadron deputy commander for seniors, praised Barela for her leadership skills. When asked how he would describe the role of the safety officer, he said, “You can never go overboard on safety. I would rather cancel an event than get anyone hurt or equipment damaged.” According to Eckert, “Capt. Barela is the epitome of the safety officer.”

She reviews every event for risk management, and she automatically thinks safety in everything she does. In addition to monthly safety briefings, Barela also commits to monthly PT training for cadets, consistently creating ways to engage the cadets in their own health and overall physical well-being. Her dedication has earned her multiple safety awards, including New Mexico Wing Safety Officer of the Year for 2017.

The senior staff of the squadron believes that Capt. Barela represents leadership at its best.

Socorro Cadet Receives Mitchell Award

By Lt. Col. David Finley, CAP
Socorro Composite Squadron

SOCORRO, N.M. – Socorro Composite Squadron cadet Alexander Torres received the General Billy Mitchell Award and promotion to cadet second lieutenant in a ceremony on January 11, 2018. New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, and former New Mexico Air National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Andrew Salas presented the award.

The General Billy Mitchell Award is a milestone achievement in the CAP cadet program. To earn the Billy Mitchell Award and the promotion to cadet second lieutenant, a cadet must pass comprehensive exams covering leadership theory and aerospace topics, complete the Cadet Physical Fitness Test, attend a CAP encampment and meet a set of leadership expectations.

“We are proud of Cadet Torres and congratulate him on this achievement,” said Socorro Composite Squadron Commander Maj. Dennis Hunter.

Torres joined CAP in September of 2014. As a Cadet Chief Master Sergeant, he was honored as the Cadet Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year for 2016 by both the New Mexico Wing and the six-state Southwest Region (Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas). Also in 2016, he earned CAP’s Cadet Pre-Solo Pilot Award and an Achievement Award. He attended CAP summer encampments in 2015 and 2016, and a CAP cybersecurity academy in 2017. He has earned ratings as a flight line marshaller, mission radio operator, and mission staff assistant, and served as the squadron’s Cadet Safety NCO and Cadet First Sergeant.

Cadets who earn the Mitchell Award join the cadet officer ranks. Within CAP, they are eligible for scholarships, Cadet Officer School, and Civic Leadership Academy. Mitchell Award recipients also are eligible for advanced placement to the grade of E-3 (Airman First Class) should they choose to enter the U.S. Air Force.

Only 15 percent of CAP cadets earn the General Billy Mitchell Award.

Spirit Squadron Kicks Off 2018 with AE/ES Extravaganza

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

New Mexico Wing Headquarters hangar at Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron successfully its first of several planned Aerospace Education/Emergency Services Extravaganzas, with the promise of more to come. A total of 10 cadets, five senior members and two guests attended. As part of its success, four new cadets completed their first orientation flight while two additional cadets flew backseat—experiencing a flight without application of a lesson. Captain Rene Larricq, the squadron’s aerospace education officer, led the remaining participants in aerospace activities while waiting for the cadets in flight to return.

Larricq’s first activity was to explain, demonstrate, and then allow the cadets to practice with a helium-filled, remote-controlled blimp, as a way to introduce the structure of the helium molecule and to discuss the impact of airships to the world at large. His second aerospace activity challenged cadets to fill a balloon with helium, and with the use of staples and washers, have the balloon hover in front of their faces without sinking or rising. Captain Larricq’s final aerospace adventure was to provide quad copter flight practice for all in attendance.

Since the event was to be a combination of Aerospace and Emergency Services, Deputy Commander for Seniors Lt. Col. Michael Eckert worked with Cadet Senior Airman Olivia Spafford to create the MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) challenge, where cadets who had never eaten an MRE had the chance to prepare one. The event allowed for much excitement as the participants on the ground worked through an MRE and added that experience to their bucket of life.

The squadron plans to continue these extravaganzas during the rest of the year.

 

New Mexico Wing Looks Forward – And Back – to 70th Anniversary as United States Air Force Auxiliary

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Mar.1, 2018, at Civil Air Patrol’s Legislative Day and Winter Command Council Meeting in Washington, D.C, the organization kicked off its 70th anniversary as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.

This milestone celebration is the third in three years for CAP. In 2016, the organization celebrated the 75th anniversary of Civil Air Patrol’s founding on Dec. 1, 1941. The following year, CAP celebrated 75 years of the Cadet Program – which provides aerospace education and leadership training to young men and women ages 12 through 20 – which began on Oct. 1, 1942.

Six days after CAP’s founding, the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. CAP’s most famous wartime activity was its Coastal Patrol, where over an 18-month period, CAP’s volunteer pilots dropped depth charges on Nazi U-Boats that infiltrated the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. Although there is no proof that Civil Air Patrol sank any German submarines, their constant harassment of the U-Boat fleet was a contributing factor in the subs’ withdrawal from American waters.

On July 1, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed into law Public Law 79-476, which stated that Civil Air Patrol was to be of a solely benevolent character, which meant that CAP could no longer engage in combat operations of any kind. CAP officially became the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force on May 26, 1948, through Public Law 80-557, also signed into law by President Truman, eight months after the United State Air Force became a separate service on Sept. 17, 1947. Since 1948, CAP has been tasked with three main missions: Emergency Services, Aerospace Education and the Cadet Program.

New Mexico Wing’s sense of history has been documented in the book Enchanted Wings, co-authored by Lt. Col. Ted Spitzmiller and Maj. Gwen Sawyer, both longtime members of CAP. Spitzmiller, who serves as New Mexico Wing’s External Aerospace Education Officer, has been a member of CAP since January 1958. Sawyer, the administrative officer for Group 800 – which oversees all the middle school and high school squadrons in the wing – has been a member of CAP since March 1959, and holds the distinction of being the first female cadet in the nation to earn Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Carl A Spaatz Award – the highest cadet program award that can be earned by a cadet.

Spitzmiller, who was hard-pressed to offer a single statement regarding New Mexico Wing’s history, offered the following observation from his book: “The mission of CAP has changed little over the years, but the supporting activities of those missions have. CAP does not do as much search and rescue as it did in the early years,” citing the advent of radar and ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters) that reduced the need for the traditional search for a lost plane. “But,” he continued, “the expanded role of CAP in disaster relief such as occurred during Hurricane Katrina and the Homeland Defense effort are strong indications that the basic mission of CAP is a critical asset to America.”

New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee offered his look ahead to the future of CAP and New Mexico Wing. “After just recently being recognized as part of the Total Force of the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol continues its 70-year mission to serve Community, State and Nation in Emergency Service, Cadet Programs and Aerospace Education as the Air Force Auxiliary,” Lee said.

Albuquerque Police Officer Recognized at State of the Union Address is Former New Mexico Cadet

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Jan. 30, 2018, while Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets, an honored guest at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address, was recognized by Trump for adopting a heroin addict’s baby, astute members of Civil Air Patrol’s New Mexico Wing also recognized the officer as a former cadet from Albuquerque’s Thunderbird Composite Squadron.

Lt. Col. Charles W. Matthews Jr., New Mexico Wing transportation officer and a member of Thunderbird Squadron at the time, confirmed that Holets was in the squadron at the same time as his son, Capt. Charles W. Matthews III, who was a cadet in the squadron from 2002 to 2008.

Although the younger Matthews, who now lives in Arizona, could not be reached for comment, Lt. Col. William R. Fitzpatrick, commander of Albuquerque’s LBJ Middle School Composite Squadron, was also a member of Thunderbird at the time and knows Holets personally. “I still speak with him,” Fitzpatrick said.

Holets gained notoriety on Sept. 23, 2017, when, as part of a routine patrol of the streets of Albuquerque, he spotted a young couple preparing to inject themselves with heroin. The woman, Crystal Champ, was eight months pregnant. Holets asked her if she knew what the heroin would do to her unborn baby; Champ responded that she knew, but that the drug had absolute control of her life. It was then that Holets – who, with his wife, Rebecca, was raising four children of his own – got the idea to adopt Champ’s baby.

After consulting with his wife, Holets approached Champ and the baby’s father, Tom Key, with the idea, and they agreed to let the Holets adopt their baby. The Holets’ adopted daughter, Hope, was born on Oct. 12, 2017. Her birth parents are currently undergoing drug rehabilitation in Florida.

At the State of the Union Address, President Trump praised the Holets’ decision, for which they received a standing ovation.

Trump said, “As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best Americans. Ryan and Rebecca, you embody the goodness of our nation. Thank you.”

Four Commanders Reunite at Spirit Squadron Awards Dinner

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Dec. 21, 2017, Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron hosted its annual Awards Dinner at the squadron’s meeting place, the Heights First Church of the Nazarene in Albuquerque. This year, not only did the squadron recognize its cadets and senior members for outstanding duty performance, but it also prompted an unexpected and impromptu reunion of the last four members to command the squadron.

Lt. Col. Beverly A. Vito was the founding squadron commander, from the time the unit was chartered in July 2005 to January 2006. She also commanded the squadron from March 2008 to May 2012.

Perhaps the most famous former squadron commander is Civil Air Patrol’s National Commander, Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith. He commanded the squadron from January 2006 to March 2008. In 2009, he was appointed New Mexico Wing Vice Commander under Col. Richard F. “Ric” Himebrook, and served as New Mexico Wing Commander from June 2011 to June 2015. He took over as Southwest Region Commander in June 2015, a position he held until he was appointed National Commander in September 2017.

Lt. Col. Michael E. Eckert commanded the squadron from May 2012 to March 2015. It was under Eckert’s leadership that the squadron earned the Squadron of Distinction Award for 2013, ranking as the top squadron in the nation among over 1,500 units.

Unavailable for the reunion was Maj. Lloyd J. Voights, who commanded the squadron from March 2015 to March 2016. The current commander, Capt. Mary A. Fox, has commanded the squadron since March 2016.

Said Fox of the reunion, “It was an honor to stand amidst the strength that built Spirit Squadron. I am very fortunate to have access to the experiences of these previous commanders.” She concluded, “What’s even more amazing is that one of our prior commanders, General Mark Smith, is now the National Commander of Civil Air Patrol. I can only hope to have the perseverance and fortitude they had as I attempt to continue their legacy with Spirit Squadron.”

Slingluff Becomes New Commander of Santa Fe Composite Squadron

By Capt. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – In a ceremony at the New Mexico National Guard Readiness Center on Nov. 7, 2017, Maj. Angie Slingluff assumed command of Santa Fe Composite Squadron. She succeeds Maj. Glen Nicolet, who served as squadron commander since November 2013, and who continues to serve as deputy commander for seniors, squadron operations officer and a mission pilot.

Before moving to New Mexico in 2014, Slingluff was an FAA Regional Aviation and Space Education Coordinator, and a Civil Air Patrol member in Anchorage, Alaska, where she participated in over 15 mission, searching for lost aircraft and people. Her goal for the squadron is “for Santa Fe Composite Squadron to shine as a leader and role model within the New Mexico Wing, by having our members fully trained and willing to attract new cadets and senior members.”

Also at the ceremony, New Mexico Wing Vice Commander- North Lt. Col. Annette Peters presented Maj. Nicolet with CAP’s Commander’s Commendation for his four years of leading the squadron. New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee presented squadron safety officer John Graham (who is also the squadron’s public affairs officer) with the Southwest Region Safety Officer of the Year Award, Capt. Roger Tennant with the New Mexico Wing Aerospace Education Officer of the Year Award, and Maj. Slingluff with the New Mexico Wing Professional Development Officer of the Year Award. Squadron Deputy Commander for Cadets John Gravel received the New Mexico Looney Family of the Year Award on behalf of his family, and Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros accepted the Cadet Safety Identity Award for the squadron.

The Santa Fe Composite Squadron, in existence since the 1940s, has a total of 25 senior members and cadets, and meets at the National Guard facility on the first Tuesday of every month

Spirit Squadron Participates in Wreaths Across America

By Capt. Mary A. Fox, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – Seven cadets and three senior members from Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron participated in the 12th annual Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony, on Dec. 16, 2017, at Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Four squadrons represented New Mexico Wing at the event. Santa Fe Composite Squadron was responsible for the color guard, and for escorting Blue Star mothers (who have sons and daughters serving in the military) and Gold Star mothers (whose sons or daughters were killed in action), who placed wreaths honoring the five branches of the armed services – Army Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard – as well as a wreath honoring prisoners of war and those veterans missing in action.

Los Alamos Composite Squadron, with its eight cadets and three senior members, spent nearly two hours laying 18 wreaths at grave-specific sites. West Mesa Composite Squadron, along with its three senior members and five cadets assisted Spirit Squadron with parking, and then went on to lay 19 wreaths at grave-specific sites. Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron organized individual wreath placements, assisted with parking and with the laying of individual wreaths, including a wreath for former New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Earl Livingston.

At each grave, cadets placed the wreath reverently at the grave, offered a moment of silence, provided a salute of honor, and spoke the veteran’s name aloud, because a name spoken aloud is a name not forgotten. The ceremony was a way to provide honor and remembrance for all deceased veterans who, through their sacrifice, earned the freedoms all Americans enjoy today.

Four Squadrons Honor Fallen Veterans at Wreaths Across America

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP
Los Alamos Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – Four squadrons, composed of 19 cadets and 12 senior members, participated in the 12th annual Wreaths Across America ceremony, held on December 16, 2017, at Santa Fe National Cemetery. Participating Squadrons included Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron, Los Alamos Composite Squadron, Santa Fe Composite Squadron and West Mesa Composite Squadron.

Several hundred spectators were on hand for the ceremony conducted by Master of Ceremonies Chief Petty Officer Charles Grosvenor, USN (Ret.) who is also a Senior Master Sergeant in the Civil Air Patrol, and Command NCO for Southwest Region.

Speakers included Lt. Col. Alex Carothers, (USAF Ret) Acting President of the Gen. “Fig” Newton Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. He reminded the audience that despite the differences in our country, we are all Americans and need to build relationships with others, so
that freedom and liberty will be reinforced and our country strengthened.

Presentation and retrieval of the colors was done by a color guard composed of two members of the Santa Fe High School Naval Junior ROTC detachment and two cadets from the Santa Fe Composite Squadron.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, eighteen wreathes were placed on graves by CAP cadets. At each placement of a wreath by CAP, the detail stood at attention while the name and rank of the veteran was spoken aloud along with an expression of gratitude on behalf of the nation. Each placement ceremony concluded with a salute.

For some members, the remembrance was personal. New Mexico Wing Vice Commander-North Lt. Col. Annette Peters honored her parents by laying a wreath at their graves and pausing in silent reflection.

Members of the public and other organizations placed additional wreaths.

 

Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron “Goodwills” it Again

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Nov. 4, 2017, The Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron held its second Goodwill fundraiser of the year at its headquarters, the Heights First Church of the Nazarene in Albuquerque. The purpose of the fundraiser was to raise money for the squadron, which goes toward purchasing insignia and supplies for the senior members and cadets.

The squadron accepted donations of gently used items to donate to Goodwill, and received $50 for every bin that they filled. The November fundraiser filled eight bins for a total of $400, outpacing the previous fundraiser, where six bins were filled for a total of $300.

According to squadron commander Capt. Mary A. Fox, members may not find fundraising to be desirable, but it is necessary. “The funds do wonders to keep cadets excited about CAP,” she said.

She noted that once the members got into the rhythm of collecting items and filling bins, it turned out to be a great team builder. “Not only did we earn funds, but in five hours, the cadets got to hang out with each other,” Fox said. “There was a lot of squadron esprit de corps going on. We had a great day!”

Fox acknowledged another fringe benefit of the fundraiser. “Perhaps we should encourage fundraising not only as a means of getting funds and recruiting but also as a means of retention,” she concluded.

Participants included Fox, Lt. Col. Beverly A. Vito, and Cadet Airman Basics Kylah Anderson, Morgan Raney, Jessamine Wignall and Derek Williams.

LBJ Middle School Cadet Receives Gen. Ira C. Eaker Award

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SOCORRO, N.M. – At the New Mexico Wing Conference Banquet on Oct. 28, 2017, Cadet Lt. Col. Destiny Maurer of Albuquerque’s LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron received Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Ira C. Eaker Award from New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee.

The Eaker Award represents completion of the fourth and final phase of CAP’s four-phase cadet program. The award is named in honor of Gen. Ira C. Eaker, deputy commander of the Army Air Forces and Air Force Chief of Staff. It is the second-highest cadet award in Civil Air Patrol, earned by only 2% of all CAP cadets.

To earn the Eaker Award, cadets must complete all 16 achievements of CAP’s Cadet Program. Additionally, they must write a 300-500 word essay and deliver a 5 to 7-minute speech on a leadership topic provided by National Headquarters; complete either the Cadet Officers School (COS) or Region Cadet Leadership School (RCLS); complete the Cadet Physical Fitness Test (CPFT); and serve as staff assistant to either the squadron leadership officer, aerospace education officer, operations officer, logistics officer or squadron commander.

The Eaker Award carries with it promotion to cadet lieutenant colonel, as well as credit for Squadron Leadership School and completion of Level II of CAP’s Professional Development Program, and the grade of first lieutenant, should the cadet transition into CAP’s adult senior program at age 21.

Maurer has been a member of CAP since May 2009. She is cadet commander of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron and a member of the Wing Balloon Team chase crew, as well as chairman of the New Mexico Wing Cadet Advisory Council.

Future Airport Manager Assumes Command as Los Alamos Deputy Commander for Cadets

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP
Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – On Nov 6, 2017, in a special ceremony, Flight Officer Hannah Morgan accepted command as deputy commander for cadets for the squadron. She succeeds Lt. Col. Annette Peters – who also serves as New Mexico Wing Vice Commander-North – who has held the squadron deputy commander’s position for the past ten years.

Peters has been a member of CAP since October 2001. She expressed her appreciation for the level of maturity and responsibility that has developed among the cadets in the squadron during her watch.

In recognition of Peters’ many years of service as deputy commander, the cadets presented her with flowers and a gift.

Morgan has been a member of CAP since September 2014, when she joined as a cadet. She transitioned into the senior program in September 2016, and was promoted to flight officer. She will be eligible to be promoted to second lieutenant upon reaching age 21.

She is working toward a degree in Airport Management, and hopes one day to become an airport manager. She is a licensed balloon pilot, and has crewed for many of the balloon ascensions at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Morgan brings enthusiasm and energy to her new responsibilities. She is looking forward to more involvement with the cadets, as well as re-establishing the Color Guard Program within the squadron.

Morgan’s parents, grandparents and siblings were also present at the ceremony.
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New Mexico Wing Conference Hosts
Explosives Demonstration

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SOCORRO, N.M. – Ammonium Nitrate. Timothy McVeigh used it to demolish the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The blast killed 168 people, 19 of whom were children under the age of six. And on Oct. 28, 2017, attendees of the New Mexico Wing Conference in Socorro got to see just how deadly such a blast can be.

Attendees were bused to the EMRTC (Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center) test site, just adjacent to the main New Mexico Tech Campus. Socorro Composite Squadron Commander Maj. Dennis Hunter, an employee of EMRTC, explained to attendees what was going to happen.

After hiking uphill to the site of the proposed blast, Hunter showed attendees a late-model minivan filled with ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil). Hunter explained that EMRTC uses TNT as the standard measure of bombs and explosives, and the ANFO charge to be detonated had 80% of the explosive capacity of TNT.

Attendees were then bused to a double-walled outdoor bunker approximately two miles from the test site, and witnessed the explosion through double-paned safety glass. Hunter counted down from 5 to 1. Attendees saw the blast, then approximately two seconds later, felt the shock wave and heard the explosion. After being given the all-clear signal, everybody was bused back to the blast site. With the exception of the engine block, the rest of the van had been completely destroyed.

According to Socorro Composite Squadron public affairs officer Lt. Col. David Finley, the EMRTC routinely does explosives testing, and has trained thousands of first responders in the use of explosives and antiterrorism techniques.

Attendees received souvenir pictures of the blast at the conference banquet that evening.

Clarke Steps Down, Nelson Assumes Command of
Roswell Composite Squadron

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ROSWELL, N.M. – On Oct. 16, 2017, Lt. Col. Thomas J. Clarke stepped down as commander of Roswell Composite Squadron, and was succeeded by Maj. Stan Nelson, in a recent ceremony presided over by New Mexico Wing commander Col. Mike Lee.

Clarke has been a member of Civil Air Patrol since October 1985. He transferred to Roswell Composite Squadron from Alaska Wing in November 2006, and has served as the squadron’s maintenance officer, supply officer, drug demand reduction officer, aerospace officer
and deputy commander for cadets. He served as squadron commander since September 2013. Since stepping down as commander, Clarke serves as advisor to the commander, logistics officer and maintenance officer.

Nelson has been a member of CAP and the squadron since November 2005. He has previously served as the squadron’s deputy commander for seniors, communications officer and finance officer.

Following the ceremony, Col. Lee presented Clarke with a Commander’s Commendation for his outstanding service to the squadron, the wing and Civil Air Patrol.

Members Honored for Outstanding OPSEVAL Performance

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SOCORRO, N.M. – On Oct. 28, 2017, New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee recognized those members who demonstrated outstanding performance during the wing’s OPSEVAL (Operations Evaluation), held Aug. 11-12, 2017.

The exercise, held every two years, is a graded evaluation by the U.S. Air Force, where the evaluation team grades the mission staff on simulated scenarios that required the mission staff to prioritize among their various objectives, plan their responses and dispatch CAP aircrews and a ground team to perform time-critical functions.

The Air Force evaluators also added to the challenges by stipulating that the mission base had no cell phone service, by diverting a plane to make an emergency landing and by having the mission staff deal with the simulated death of a key staff member.

The overall rating for the OPSEVAL was Effective, with four elements – Public Information Officer, Flight Line, Ground Team and Aircrews – receiving the top rating of Outstanding.

Los Alamos Cadet Promoted to Cadet Chief Master Sergeant

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP
Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – At a promotion ceremony held at Los Alamos Airport on Nov.6, 2017, Bryce Gentile was promoted to cadet chief master sergeant at the weekly meeting of Los Alamos Composite Squadron.

Gentile has been a member of Civil Air Patrol and the squadron since November 2014. The grade of chief master sergeant is the highest enlisted grade a cadet can hold before progressing to the cadet officer grades.

Gentile’s new insignia was pinned on by his mother, Louise Foliot, and his father, Bill Gentile.

Cadet Gentile has a love for flying, and participated over the summer at the Civil Air Patrol National Flight Academy in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He plans to pursue a career as a pilot upon graduation from high school.

Five Squadrons Earn Quality Cadet Unit Award

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SOCORRO, N.M. –. On Oct. 28, 2017, at the New Mexico Wing Conference in Socorro, New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee recognized five squadrons that received Civil Air Patrol’s Quality Cadet Unit Award for the year ending Aug. 31, 2017. The five units recognized were Eagle Cadet Squadron, Los Alamos Composite Squadron, Santa Fe Composite Squadron, Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron and LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron.

The Quality Cadet Unit Award is an objective measure of a unit’s success, and is open to all cadet and composite squadrons, and flights with a minimum of 10 cadets. To qualify, units must meet at least 6 out of 10 criteria in the following areas: Cadet Achievement, Orientation Flights, Retention, Adult Leadership, Encampments, Growth, Aerospace, Enrollment, Outside Activities and Emergency Services. A full description of specific criteria can be found at https://www.capmembers.com/cadet_programs/library/quality-cadet-unit-award/

Among the specific objectives, units must have at least 35 cadets on their roster, show a growth rate of at least 10% (or 10 cadets) over the previous year, have at least three senior members who are graduates of CAP’s Training Leaders of Cadets program, have at least 60% of their cadets complete orientation flights, at least 50% attend an encampment, and at least 40% earn Civil Air Patrol’s Wright Brothers Award.

Lee praised the recipients by saying, “If you want to see quality units in the wing, this is what they look like.”

Los Alamos Composite Squadron Fields CyberPatriot Team

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP
Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The Los Alamos Composite Squadron has fielded a team to compete in the National Youth Cyber Education Program, also known as CyberPatriot. The team consists of three cadets – Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Silas Morgan, Cadet Senior Airman Malcolm Olsen and Cadet Airman Kyle Gentile – and senior members Chris Olsen and Keith Morgan, who serve as sponsors and mentors for the cadets.

Based on the National Youth Cyber Defense Program, CyberPatriot is open to both middle school and high school teams, which start out at the local level and can advance all the way to the national finals. Teams are tasked with managing the cyber network of a simulated small company. In the competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems. The teams need to find the cybersecurity vulnerabilities within these images, to protect and maintain critical services during a six-hour period.

On Nov. 4, 2017, the team participated in the first competition of the season. The cadets were given were given both a Windows 7 and Linux system, and determined the problems and vulnerabilities that were embedded in each system. Additionally, they took an exam involving network issues. Additional competitions will be held in December and January, with qualifying teams advancing to state, regional and national competitions.

 

National Commander, Wing Commander, Explosion and Astronaut Highlight New Mexico Wing Conference

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SOCORRO, N.M. – What do Civil Air Patrol’s National Commander, the New Mexico Wing Commander, an explosion and an astronaut have in common? They all combined to highlight the New Mexico Wing Conference, the weekend of Oct. 27-29, at the Macey Conference Center at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, informally known as New Mexico Tech.

The festivities began the evening of Oct. 27, with a Cadet Ball at the nearby Best Western Convention Annex. The Ball is an opportunity for cadets to get to know one another, and to experience the protocols associated with formal dining and the Air Force dining-out, which serves as the model for the Cadet Ball.

Cadets and senior members were treated to the appearance of CAP’s National Commander,
Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, who was good-natured enough to share a trip to the Grog Bowl – a punchbowl filled with unknown but harmless non-alcoholic ingredients – for good-natured infractions of the Rules of the Mess. The ball concluded at about 10:30 p.m.

The Saturday activities began with the General Session, which was called to order by Lt. Col. David G. Finley, Socorro Composite Squadron’s public affairs officer. As the hosting unit, Socorro’s Cadet Color Guard posted the colors for the day’s events. Following the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, New Mexico Wing Director of Safety Lt. Col. Doug Weitzel gave his Operational Risk Safety Briefing (ORSB).

The first speaker was Maj. Gen. Smith, who in his previous roles as both New Mexico Wing Commander and Southwest Region Commander, was no stranger to the New Mexico Wing Conference. As National Commander, he was able to brief the wing on how CAP is doing nationwide.

He reiterated his command philosophy, which he mentioned following his appointment as National Commander on Sept. 2: ‘One Civil Air Patrol, excelling in service to our nation and our members.”

He praised CAP’s response, and especially that of New Mexico Wing, after the three hurricanes that began on his watch – Harvey, Irma and Maria – and how the organization pulled together to achieve a common goal. For Hurricane Harvey alone, 626 volunteers from 37 wings flew 626 sorties, for a combined total of 1,839 hours, to provide 75,973 aerial photographs, which aided local authorities in assessing the damage left in the storm’s wake.

Smith also praised CAP’s cell phone and radar forensics teams, which were able to pinpoint lost aircraft or individuals. So far this year, 103 lives have been saved through cell phone forensics alone.

Paying tribute to the 75th anniversary of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program – which officially turned 75 on Oct. 1 – he said, “I happen to believe that the Cadet Program is the single best youth development program in the nation.”

He also stressed CAP’s NCO program as a way for prior-service noncommissioned officers to mentor both senior members and cadets.

For Smith, new member recruitment and retention remains a priority. He said that CAP’s focus should be on effective leadership, a healthy squadron climate and an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere.

Addressing the issue of member retention, Smith said that he wanted all members of CAP to succeed. “It’s important for our members to take care of each other,” he said. If members believe they are doing something meaningful, then they will be motivated to stay.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee then spoke on the state of the Wing. Echoing Smith’s point, Lee stated that recruiting is still a major concern for the Wing, although it has made positive strides. As of the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, one of the Wing’s newest units, Carlos F. Vigil Middle School Cadet Squadron, gained a record 74 cadets.

Lee said that effective retention is part of a quality unit, and took time out to recognize five squadrons that earned Civil Air Patrol’s Quality Cadet Unit Award: Los Alamos Composite Squadron, Eagle Cadet Squadron, Santa Fe Composite Squadron, Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron and LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron.

He praised the Wing for exceeding its projected number of powered orientation flights: 248 out of a projected 210 for 2017. The Wing also had 419 glider sorties for 2017, ranking eighth in the nation. Lee also praised his staff for the hard work they did for its biannual Operations Evaluation (OPSEVAL), held Aug. 11-12, and for which the wing received an overall rating of Effective.

After a Q&A session with Gen. Smith, the General Session was dismissed, and attendees were bused to the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) test site, adjacent to the New Mexico Tech main campus.

Attendees witnessed an explosive demonstration from a bunker two miles from the actual test site. Although for security reasons,

attendees were not allowed to take pictures, Socorro Composite Squadron Commander Maj. Dennis Hunter, an employee of EMRTC, did take a group photo of attendees at the site of the aftermath.

Following the afternoon breakout sessions, the guest speaker for the conference banquet was Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the lunar module commander of Apollo 17, and one of the last men to walk on the moon. Although he also served as a United States Senator from New Mexico from 1977 to 1983, he focused on his career as an astronaut. From 1969 to 1972, the Apollo astronauts brought home 850 pounds of moon rocks, which are still being studied to this day.

Schmitt said that he is hopeful that over the next two decades, the United States should focus on a manned mission to Mars. The technology and the knowledge base are there, with the operational experience from the Apollo missions and a reservoir of young, skilled engineers.

“Before we commit to another Mars mission, let’s take another walk on the moon,” he said, echoing the words of NASA pioneer Wehrner von Braun, who said, “I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with great caution.”

National Commander, New Mexico Wing Commander Bookend Rides at Balloon Fiesta

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In a first for Civil Air Patrol, CAP’s National Commander, Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith, became the first National Commander to ride in New Mexico Wing’s hot-air balloon Integrity, at the 46th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which ran the week of Oct. 7-14, at the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.

Smith participated in the opening Mass Ascension on the first day of the Fiesta, Oct. 7, accompanied by the balloon crew and Cadet Col. Jodie Gawthorp of CAP’s Indiana Wing.

“I was pleased to fly with the New Mexico Wing’s hot air balloon team,” said Smith. “The opportunity to fly during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta during its morning Mass Ascension of 600-plus balloons was exciting. However,” he added, “even better than the beauty of the flight was the professionalism of the New Mexico wing’s crew. Led by pilots Lt. Col. (William) Fitzpatrick and Maj.(Jessica) Makin, several cadets and senior members ensured the launch, flight and recovery of the hot air balloon Integrity was conducted in a flawless manner. Well done!”

The historic ride took place a little more than a month into Smith’s tenure as National Commander. He was appointed to the position on Sept. 2, 2017, after serving as New Mexico Wing Commander from 2011 to 2015, and as commander of Southwest Region – which includes the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas – from 2015 to 2017.

The Balloon Fiesta started in 1972, with a small gathering of 13 balloons in the parking lot of Albuquerque’s Coronado Mall. Since 1972, the number of balloons averages 600, with as many as 1000 balloons that were registered in 2000.

On the closing day of the Fiesta, New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, who succeeded Smith as New Mexico Wing Commander, participated in the final Mass Ascension of the Fiesta.

“It was a pleasure to fly the National Commander in Integrity, and to expand our reach beyond New Mexico Wing,” Lee said.

Taos Composite Squadron Participates in Runway Dedication

By SM Spencer Hamons, CAP
Taos Composite Squadron

TAOS, N.M. – Members of the Taos Composite Squadron displayed the capabilities of the Civil Air Patrol during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Taos Regional Airport on August 25, 2017. The long-awaited addition of the 8,600 foot long, crosswind runway – 13 South, 31 North – is nearly 3,000 feet longer than the previous runway, and allows more missions to be flown out of Taos in addition to providing capabilities for aeromedical evacuations from the area and staging of wildfire aircraft.
Taos is located in Northern New Mexico, on the southern boundary of the San Luis Valley – one of the largest and highest valleys in the United States. Surrounded by mountains topping 14,000 feet, the valley has significant winds, variable temperatures, and an average elevation of 7,664 feet, creating significant performance challenges for aircraft. Hosting a variety of tourist destinations, the search and rescue mission of Civil Air Patrol is increasingly important.

One of those tourist destinations is the culturally important Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site and one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. The previous single runway at the Taos Regional Airport not only challenged aircraft performance, but also necessitated some air traffic to fly directly over this cultural heritage site. The City and County of Taos worked directly with the tribal leadership at the Taos Pueblo to obtain FAA approval and funding of the runway as a way to help diminish overflights of the pueblo lands.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta joined state and local leaders and the entire Taos community to dedicate the new runway. During the visit, Mr. Huerta and members of his staff spoke with local Civil Air Patrol members about the critical mission being served, and toured the Squadron’s Mobile Operations Center and G-1000 equipped Cessna 182 aircraft. Mr. Huerta reciprocated by providing local CAP members a tour of the FAA’s Cessna 560XL.

An unanticipated but welcome result, aside from the dedication ceremony, is a renewed interest by a variety of community organizations looking to expand their relationship with Taos Composite Squadron, which has scheduled several meetings with area Search and Rescue operations, local emergency preparedness organizations, and other organizations over the next two months.

Santa Fe Squadron Hosts Milestone Promotions

By Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – In a ceremony at the New Mexico National Guard Readiness Center on Aug. 17, 2017, Santa Fe Composite Squadron promoted Maria-Lisa M. Dilda to lieutenant colonel, and Dakota Cisneros to cadet major. New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, and Northern Inspector General Team Chief and former New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Dennis Manzanares attended as special guests.

The grade of lieutenant colonel is the highest level of a Civil Air Patrol senior member’s career development, for those performing duties as squadron or group commanders, or as staff officers at any level. As such, only the most dedicated senior members ever achieve this grade.

Lt. Col. Dilda remarked to the audience, “Although CAP is a voluntary organization, rank is not a gift – it must be earned.” She continued, “It takes hard work and a sincere commitment to the missions and vision of Civil Air Patrol, and as the fourth cog in the Air Force’s Total Force, earning your rank is built upon the same criteria and basic core values of the Air Force.” She currently serves as the squadron’s deputy commander for seniors and character development officer.

The grade of cadet major is the fourth cadet officer grade of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program. Most cadets who achieve this grade serve as cadet executive officer or cadet deputy commander at a wing-level encampment, or as cadet commander at the squadron level. Only two percent of CAP cadets are promoted to cadet major, and including Cisneros, there are currently only three in New Mexico Wing.

Achieving this grade requires taking advantage of opportunities for learning and growth within the organization. Cisneros currently serves as the squadron’s cadet executive officer and recruiting and retention officer.

Los Alamos Cadets Host Cub Scout Pack

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP
Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – On Sept. 11, 2017, the cadets of the Los Alamos Composite Squadron hosted the Piñon School Cub Scout Pack 326 at the squadron’s headquarters at Los Alamos Airport. A total of 20 Cub Scouts, along with family members, learned about the programs available through Civil Air Patrol. Squadron emergency services officer Maj. Mark Peters showed YouTube videos about CAP, and answered many questions from the scouts. Squadron commander 1st Lt. William L. Wolfe displayed his flying club’s aircraft. Aerospace Education displays on rocketry, remote-controlled model aircraft and robotics were on display, as well as a spaceship simulator.

According to cubmaster Aric Tibbetts, Pack 326 is composed of four dens and meets monthly at Piñon School in White Rock, N.M.

Spirit Squadron Cadets Learn Fire Safety

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP
Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Sept. 8, 2017, Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron Commander Capt. Mary A. Fox, Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Michael E. Eckert, and Safety Officer Capt. Karen M. Barela provided the cadets and senior members in the squadron to train with fire extinguishers. Each and every member – and even a few visitors – got to learn how to use a fire extinguisher.

Volunteers from the Lobo Fire Department took a metal trash can lid, some oil, and some matches to start a Class B (flammable liquid) fire, for the cadets and the visitors to extinguish.

Although the Airman Battle Uniform (ABUs) would have been the preferred uniform for this kind of training, several cadets were scheduled to promote that evening, so the uniform of the day was the Class B blue service uniform. The winds blew and the cadets, senior members and visitors got dirty and smelled like smoke, but on the positive side, everybody got to use the fire extinguishers and learn their purpose.

Route 66 Composite Squadron Conducts Open House

By Lt. Col. John P. Grassham, CAP
Route 66 Composite Squadron

MORIARTY, N.M. – Route 66 Composite Squadron hosted an Open House at Moriarty Airport on Sept. 16, 2017. Displays included the squadron’s hangar and operations center, a Cessna 182 aircraft, a Let Super Blank L-33 sailplane and the squadron’s hot-air balloon. The sailplane, which was towed cross-country from

Socorro, allowed the squadron to showcase Civil Air Patrol’s soaring program to the Moriarty soaring community.

Though high winds prevented the inflation of the hot-air balloon, it did provide an opportunity to present lighter-than-air aviation to those present.

The Open House provided an opportunity to bring local attention to CAP, and provided important learning points for future Open Houses.

New Mexico Wing Summer Encampment: Eight Days toward Becoming Extraordinary

By Capt. Dawn Weaver, CAP
2017 Encampment PAO

SANTA FE, N.M. – This past summer, encampment commander Maj. Maria-Lisa M. Dilda, along with her staff of senior members and cadets, planned and executed the New Mexico Wing Summer Encampment, which ran from July 8-14, 2017. (Staff reported for duty on July 6.) The encampment was originally scheduled to be held at Kirtland Air Force Base’s Coyote Canyon, but when that site became unavailable, the New Mexico National Guard, a longtime supporter of CAP cadet programs, offered the use of their Forward Operating Base (FOB) at the Guard’s Oñate Complex in Santa Fe.

Cadets and senior members from several states participated this year. The encampment Commandant of Cadets, Maj. Jim Predis, was from Texas Wing, as were Personnel/Admin Officer Capt. Tammy Predis, Tactical Officer Capt. Michael Alison, and the encampment Cadet Commander, Cadet Lt. Col. Andrew Allison.

This year, the 2017 Summer Encampment offered four basic cadet flights – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta – as well as one advanced NCO flight, Cobra Flight. Each flight was assigned a senior member training officer. Staff was awake and working by 6:00 a.m. Cadet students, mandated and scheduled for eight and a half hours of sleep, woke up at 6:30 a.m.

The Cobra NCO Flight Program coordinator, 2nd Lt. Taylor Cases, and the NCO Flight Assistant Program Coordinator, Flight Officer Juana Fox, were responsible for planning and carrying out the curriculum for the advanced NCO flight.

Typically, encampments are geared toward basic students, in the grades from cadet airman to cadet senior airman. The Cobra flight was made up of cadet noncommissioned officers who had not yet been to an encampment, because the staff believed it inappropriate to force an advanced cadet NCO to attend a beginner’s encampment.

The Cobra Flight was designed for those cadets between the grades of cadet staff sergeant and cadet chief master sergeant, focusing on the principles of leadership and not followership. Also, cadets return year after year because they are challenged by the activities. Cadet NCOs already know the basics, and are not challenged by the standard curriculum provided for basic students.

Cadet NCOs must be physically ready to accomplish CAP’s missions. They are the ones who traditionally lead the units in fitness training, and so they need to lead by example.

Cadet NCOs also need to be mentally ready, and totally focused on their professional duties, which requires them to effectively manage their stress. Mental readiness includes heathy attitudes toward school and home life. Cadet NCOs can show a commitment to mental readiness by promoting the wingman concept, and by reaching out for adult help when life seems to be spinning out of control.

The cadets were challenged by the encampment’s regimented life, which included a carefully designed, age-appropriate training environment. (The military setting is one of the top reasons young people become cadets.) The emphasis on military bearing, saluting and discipline was ratcheted up a few notches from what cadets were used to at their weekly squadron meetings.

The encampment is the main CAP cadet activity in which the cadets learn, grow, and begin to move from follower to leader. Encampment attendance correlates with cadet retention: cadets who go to encampment are more likely to renew their membership than those who do not attend.
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The training the cadets received emphasized not only leadership and character development, but also physical fitness and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities. In order for cadets to graduate from the encampment, they needed to complete 80% of the required encampment curriculum.

Former Tony Hillerman Squadron Cadet Now Serves in the U.S. Air Force

By 1st Lt. Michelle Newton, CAP
Tony Hillerman Cadet Squadron

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Sept. 22, 2017, former Cadet 2nd Lt. Nicholas Latourelle – who is now an airman first class in the United States Air Force – paid an unscheduled visit to his old unit, Tony Hillerman Cadet Squadron. During his time there, he answered the cadets’ questions about boot camp, and how Civil Air Patrol prepared him for the military.

After he graduated from Air Force Basic Training Camp on May 19, with the grade of airman first class (E-3) – because his Civil Air Patrol Mitchell Award entitled him to advanced placement after graduation – he graduated from his Specialty training on Sept. 5, earning his Badge and Beret. He will be stationed in Hawaii for the next three years.

Latourelle was one of the squadron’s original cadets, when the unit was first formed in 2012. He progressed through the cadet grades as quickly as regulations permitted, devoting his free time to studying and testing. He held many positions within the squadron, starting off as an element leader, then progressing to flight sergeant, culminating his noncommissioned officer career as the squadron’s cadet first sergeant. In this position, he took an active interest in the squadron’s physical fitness testing and training.

Latourelle was often seen running alongside slower cadets, giving them words of encouragement. He assisted with uniform checks, and set the example for how the uniform should be worn. Latourelle was seen by many to be a great leader and friend to the younger cadets in the squadron.

Even now, with Latourelle in the Air Force, the squadron considers him to be a great role model for the younger cadets. In many of the discussions at the squadron meetings, his name comes up, and the younger cadets reflect on what he had accomplished, where he is now, and what they have to do to follow in his footsteps.

Santa Fe Composite Squadron Appears on Local TV

By Capt. C. John Graham, CAP
Santa Fe Composite Squadron

SANTA FE, N.M. – Public appearances by Civil Air Patrol often bring fortuitous results. At the Legislative Day at the State Capitol in February, Diane Kinderwater of KCHF-TV approached the CAP information table and struck up a conversation with Maj. Angie Slingluff and Cadet Maj. Dakota Cisneros of the Santa Fe Composite Squadron. Ms. Kinderwater turned out to be the host of the Issues and Answers show on KCHF, an Albuquerque-based local broadcast station, and she extended an invitation for representatives of Civil Air Patrol to be interviewed. Capt. John Graham, the squadron’s public affairs officer, and Cisneros, the cadet PAO, accepted, and the taping for the half-hour program was held at KCHF’s studio on July 27.

Kinderwater asked penetrating questions about CAP’s cadet, aerospace education, and emergency services programs and inquired about Graham’s and Cisneros’ reasons for joining. Graham explained that the opportunity to fly again after a 30-year hiatus was appealing, but that he also wanted to engage in community service after retirement; CAP has fulfilled both wishes. Cisneros said that he values the training that has allowed him to develop leadership skills. He’s now well prepared for a planned dual career in civilian law enforcement and the New Mexico National Guard.
Images of CAP activities rolled as the interview progressed. KCHF also featured CAP’s 75th anniversary tribute video in the show.

Cisneros observed that “This is a great way to extend the hand of CAP to the youth, and we need to do more of it. Perhaps by working with smaller stations like this we can eventually be featured on a major network program.”

This segment of Issues and Answers can be seen on KCHF on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m., Oct. 29 at 2 p.m., and Nov.4 at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m

Newly-appointed National Commander Remembers His New Mexico Roots

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP
New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

SAN ANTONIO – When Maj. Gen. Mark E. Smith took over as Civil Air Patrol’s 24th National Commander on Sept. 2, 2017, he reached the pinnacle of human accomplishment for any CAP member. And yet, having been appointed to the top position in the organization, he paused to recognize his beginnings.

Smith has been a member of CAP since July 2005, when he was a founding member of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron. He commanded the squadron from January 2006 to March 2008. In 2009, he was appointed New Mexico Wing Vice Commander under Col. Richard F. “Ric” Himebrook, whom he succeeded as Wing Commander, serving from June 2011 to June 2015, when he assumed command of Southwest Region.

A contingent of 15 members of New Mexico Wing traveled to CAP’s National Conference in San Antonio to have breakfast with Smith before he assumed command. The guests included Lt. Col. Beverly A. Vito, the founding commander of Spirit Squadron, who commanded the unit from July 2005 to January 2006; Capt. Mary A. Fox, the squadron’s current commander; and Maj. Roberta Himebrook, Col. Himebrook’s widow and advisor to Smith during his tenure as New Mexico Wing Commander and beyond. (Col. Himebrook had passed away in April 2014.)

After assuming command from his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, Smith addressed the audience and gave credit where it was due.

“To say the least, it’s humbling to be selected to serve as your Chief Executive Officer and National Commander, and thank you for the confidence you put in me for doing the job,” Smith said.

He acknowledged that leadership of the organization is a team effort, and gave credit to his predecessor for the state of the organization prior to his assuming command. “You’ve taken the organization to an amazing level of excellence already,” he said, recognizing Maj. Gen. Vazquez and his team for their service and dedication to CAP.

Smith also shared his personal credo for the organization – a vision statement that he has used to focus on the mission of his command. From his vision for New Mexico Wing, “Best in the Southwest”; and for Southwest Region, “Leading the Way to Mission Success,” his vision statement as National Commander is, “One Civil Air Patrol.”

“We’re not 1,483 franchises, we’re not 52 wings, we’re not eight regions, we’re not volunteers and we’re not paid staff,” he said. We’re one team. I can’t do this job, but we can do this job.”

Taking time to thank those who helped him, he recognized Vito and quipped, “She’s the one who recruited me into Civil Air Patrol.” To which Vito replied, “And, Sir, I proudly accept the honor.” He also recognized Maj. Himebrook, saying, “If it weren’t for Ric and Roberta Himebrook, I wouldn’t be here. We all have mentors over the course of time, and it’s important for us to have them and important for us to be them.”

In all, the New Mexico contingent was proud of its native son, and wished him well on his command.

New Mexico Wing Successfully Completes Operational Test

By Lt. Col. David G. Finley, CAP
Socorro Composite Squadron

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Wing completed a statewide operations evaluation (OPSEVAL), the weekend of Aug. 11-12, 2017, demonstrating its abilities to a U.S. Air Force evaluation team. Nearly 100 CAP members from 14 units around the state participated in the exercise, with its command post at Wing Headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base.

The Air Force evaluation team provided simulated scenarios that required the Wing’s incident command team to prioritize among the scenarios, plan their responses and dispatch CAP aircrews and a ground team to perform time-critical functions, including aerial and ground search and rescue, urgent transport of medical materials and extensive aerial photography.

CAP aircrews produced numerous aerial photographs of bridges, dams, domestic ports of entry, and national monuments and historic sites throughout the state. CAP members also found a simulated downed aircraft and lost hiker, based on clues provided by the Air Force team.

The OPSEVALs, conducted every two years, are designed to ensure that each CAP wing is proficient in those functions.

The Air Force evaluators added to the challenges by imposing additional difficulties. These included stipulating that cell phone service was unavailable to the command team, by ordering a CAP aircraft to make a simulated emergency landing during a sortie, and by forcing an evacuation of the mission base and the “death” of a key staff member.

“These evaluations are designed as a stress test, confronting our team with multiple situations that often compete for our available resources,” said Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock, incident commander for the exercise. Hitchcock added, “We are also under significant time pressure, making this a challenging exercise.”

At the end of the exercise, the Air Force team announced that the Wing had received a rating of “successful” in demonstrating its capabilities. Three areas – Public Information Officer, Flight Line and Aircrews – were rated “outstanding.”

“This was a statewide exercise, with members and aircraft from throughout the wing participating. I’m very proud of the dedication shown by those members, both seniors and cadets, who devoted large amounts of time and effort to make this operation successful,” said New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee.

“Their efforts included not just a long weekend for the evaluation, but also several months of preparation,” Lee concluded

Spirit Cadets Develop Their Team-Building Skills

By Capt. Mary A. Fox, CAP

Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 29, 2017, the cadets and senior members of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron participated in a ninja-style obstacle course at the Ninja Force Gym in Albuquerque, owned and operated by ninja warrior competitor Josh Kronberg.

Cadet Senior Master Sgt. John Nichols, the squadron’s Basic Cadet Training instructor, organized the entire evening – known as Cadet Day – to help the squadron members challenge themselves and strengthen their team spirit.

Throughout the evening, the cadets consistently challenged themselves to step outside their comfort zones and to work together as a team. They slid down a two-inch diameter knotted rope from 20 feet above. They swung between loops, trying to remain in the air. By the end of the evening, the cadets were worn out, but their blistered hands were trophies of the memories that conquering the obstacle course provided.

The evening ended with a farewell party for Maj. Amanda Somerville, the squadron’s deputy commander for cadets, who is leaving the squadron to pursue other interests. Somerville, a vegan, was presented with a vegan chocolate cake in honor of her two years of service to the squadron.      The evening also marked Nichols’ 15th birthday, and he was presented with a separate cake in his honor. Since the cadets had been working out for two hours, both cakes were consumed in fairly short order.

The squadron decided that Nichols’ Cadet Day was an exciting and well-deserved opportunity for team-building, and fun for the entire squadron.

2017 Spirit Squadron Ninja Night 2

Above: The cadets and senior members of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron participate in their Cadet Day at Ninja Force Gym, under the tutelage of owner and operator Josh Kronberg (front row, center, kneeling). (Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Walter Barela)

Two Los Alamos Cadets Receive the Mitchell Award

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP

Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – For the third time this n year, Los Alamos Composite Squadron recognized the achievement of cadets earning Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Billy Mitchell Award. On June 5, 2017, Cadets Zachary Lang and Gabe Fox were promoted to the grade of cadet second lieutenant and presented with the award, named after aerospace pioneer Gen. Billy Mitchell.

Cadet Lang set his sights on earning the Mitchell Award shortly after his brother earned the award not too long ago. He is planning on joining the United States Navy.

Cadet Fox said, “It’s been a long road and a long, hard challenge, but it pays off in the end.” Fox joined the cadet program in October 2013, while still in the sixth grade. Fox hopes to join the United States Air Force, and then go on to college

It was a bittersweet meeting for Fox, since it was his last meeting at Los Alamos Composite Squadron. His family is moving to Rio Rancho, N.M., and he is transferring his membership to Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

The Mitchell Award signifies completion of Phase II of CAP’s four-phase Cadet Program. To earn the award, cadets must successfully complete the first eight of 16 achievements in the Cadet Program, as well as pass comprehensive leadership and aerospace exams, and a rigorous physical fitness test.

Cadets who earn the Mitchell Award become eligible for advanced placement upon graduation from basic training and consideration for entry into the Unites States service academies, as well as CAP flight and academic scholarships and grants.

 2017 Los Alamos Squadron Fox Lang Mitchell

Above: Cadets Zachary Lang, left, and Gabe Fox, right, prepare to receive their Mitchell Awards from New Mexico Wing Vice Commander-North Lt. Col. Annette Peters, assisted by Maj. Mark Peters. (All Photos: Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP}

Spirit Squadron Middle School Cyber Team Recognized

By Capt. Mary A. Fox, CAP

Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – On May 20, 2017, members of the Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron CyberPatriot Middle School team was recognized as the first-place middle school team by the Air Force Association Chapter 258, at an awards ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel in Albuquerque.

New Mexico Air National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Andrew E. Salas congratulated all the cadets personally and thanked them for their involvement and their efforts to keep CyberPatriot through the study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses. He also presented the winning cyber teams with a challenge to continue their defense of cyber terrorism, not only through training, but also by remembering the lives of all American soldiers who gave them the freedom to pursue their training.

“The ceremony was inspirational as well as informative,” said Cadet Sponsor Member Jonathan Fox, in attendance with squadron commander Capt. Mary A. Fox. “It was great to hear Gen. Salas speak. He is certainly a motivational speaker. It is also interesting to hear that in only nine years, the AFA CyberPatriot program has grown to 60 teams in New Mexico, and 4,400 teams nationally. Those are quite impressive numbers for such a critical need in our country.”

Team member Cadet Airman Sean Cuellar-Hatcher received the award on behalf of the team, as well as a challenge coin from the Air Force Association representative in attendance at the ceremony.

The middle school team consisted of team directors 2nd Lts. Tom and Carissa Nichols; mentor James Hatcher; Cadet Senior Master Sgt. John Nichols, Cadet Airman Basic Maxwell Wignall Cadet Airman Sean Cuellar-Hatcher, and Naval Sea Cadet Jasmine Nichols.

2017 Spirit Squadron CyberPatriot Middle School Award

Above: New Mexico Air National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen Andrew E. Salas, Cadet Airman Sean Cueller-Hatcher, Mr. James Hatcher, and Air Force Association representatives Mr. James Toohey and Mr. Fred Harsany, who presented Cadet Hatcher with the CyberPatriot Middle School plaque on behalf of the squadron.(Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Jonathan Fox.)

Santa Fe Cadets Learn the Basics of Ground Team Operations

By Cadet Capt. Dakota Cisneros, CAP

Santa Fe Composite Squadron 

SANTA FE, N.M. – A recent field training exercise not only provided a valuable learning experience for the cadets of Santa Fe Composite Squadron. The exercise was held at Santa Fe Municipal airport on June 20, 2017.

During the exercise, cadets located and evacuated a simulated victim of an aircraft accident, learning the basics of ground search team movements, whistle commands, proper field protection, the importance of the wingman system, and how to conduct an improvised litter carry to transport a conscious injured person.

Cadet Public Affairs Officer Dakota Cisneros prepared a detailed Operational Risk Management Analysis, and a geo-referenced map as part of the exercise. Handheld radios were used to communicate with a simulated command base.

Squadron public affairs officer Capt. John Graham remarked, “The squadron hadn’t been involved in ground exercises in many years. With his exemplary leadership skills, Cadet Cisneros made it possible for the cadets to learn these new skills.”

Squadron officers participating in the exercise assisted with instruction, acted as incident commander and answered questions about real-life scenarios. A number of cadets expressed interest in further emergency services training to gain experience in the field and to pursue personal goals for their future careers.

(Editor’s Note: The squadron’s cadet public affairs officer, Cadet Capt. Dakota Cisneros, completed one of the requirements for his promotion to cadet major by planning and leading a ground search and rescue mission for the cadets. As preparation for the exercise, Cadet Cisneros prepared a detailed Operational Risk Management analysis, and a geo-referenced map to navigate to a simulated crash site at the airport. )

2017 Santa Fe Squadron Cadet SAREX

Above: Cadets from Santa Fe Composite Squadron participate in a simulated litter carry of an aircraft crash victim during a squadron search and rescue exercise. (Photo: Capt. C. John Graham, CAP)

National Commander-select Col. Mark E. Smith

Has Ties to New Mexico Wing    

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP

New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 19, 2017, Civil Air Patrol’s Board of Governors announced that Southwest Region Commander Col. Mark E. Smith has been selected as CAP’s next CEO and National Commander. Smith will assume command at the organization’s National Conference, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, in San Antonio, Texas.

Col. (now Maj. Gen.-select) Smith will serve a three-year term as National Commander, assuming command from Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, the current national commander, whose term expires this year.

Smith’s appointment as the new leader of CAP’s 57,000 members nationwide is especially significant for members of New Mexico Wing, many of whom believe that he is eminently qualified to lead Civil Air Patrol at the national level.

He was a founding member of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, and commanded the squadron from January 2006 to March 2008. In June 2011, he assumed command of New Mexico Wing.

His vision statement for the Wing was, “New Mexico Wing – Best in the Southwest.” His vision carried over to Southwest Region, when he assumed command of the Region in June 2015.

Under his watch, New Mexico Wing’s Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron achieved Squadron of Distinction for 2013, ranking as the best squadron in the nation among 1,500 units nationwide.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, who succeeded Smith as wing commander, said of Smith’s appointment, “I have had the

privilege of working with Mark Smith since 2011. His integrity, excellence and work ethic have inspired me to be a better servant to my community.” Lee added, “I know that his leadership will lead the way to enhance the capabilities of CAP into the future.”

A 1974 graduate of the United State Air Force Academy, Smith has spent more than 43 years in service to his community, state and nation. He currently heads up CAP’s Leadership Development Working Group, a national-level team that has developed products, tools and courses to better equip CAP’s leaders at all levels for success. The group recently released a highly acclaimed Unit Commander’s Course.

Outgoing National Commander Vazquez said of his successor, “Col. Smith represents the best of the executive volunteer leaders in Civil Air Patrol today.” He added, “His leadership of Southwest Region, as well as work on a new generation of squadron and wing commander training, greatly benefits all CAP members. He is a great choice to succeed me, and I look forward to working with him to achieve a smooth transition.”

When Smith found out he was selected, he said, “I am excited to be given the opportunity to serve as Civil Air Patrol’s next CEO and National Commander. I look forward to partnering with our phenomenal volunteers and staff to take our organization to even greater levels of excellence in service to community, state and nation.”

Col Smith Official Portrait

Above: Col. (now Maj. Gen.-select) Mark E. Smith, the next National Commander of Civil Air Patrol (Photo: CAP National Headquarters)

New Mexico Wing Places 16th Nationwide

In CyberPatriot Competition

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On February 18, 2017, New Mexico Wing placed 16th nationwide as part of the ninth annual National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, popularly known as CyberPatriot, sponsored by the Air Force Association.

The ranking places New Mexico Wing in the top three percent of all units that participated as members of Civil Air Patrol. The team’s 16th place ranking is an overall improvement over last year, when the team placed 19th, among the top four percent of all competing units.

CyberPatriot coach 1st Lt. Cael Chappell said to the team of its performance, “You have continually improved every year, and that is an impressive feat.”

Additionally, the CyberPatriot team, fielded by Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, placed in the following categories:

Number One CAP Team in New Mexico.

Number Two All Service Team in New Mexico.

Number 65 nationwide in the All Service Division, finishing in the top 4% of all units. (Last year, the team finished at Number 73, placing it in the top 5% of all units.)

This was also the first year that the squadron fielded a middle school team, which earned second place at CyberPatriot’s Thundercup Competition on April 27, which was held at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque. The middle school team then advanced to the state finals, and took first place at the state completion, where they were honored at a separate banquet on May 20. They did not advance to the national level.

Established by the Air Force Association in 2009, CyberPatriot is designed for high school and middle school students to detect vulnerabilities in their online networks, and to protect them against cyber-attacks. Cadets are cast in the role of IT (information technology) specialists assigned to a company, and tasked with hardening their computers against cyber-attacks while maintaining critical services for their company.

New Mexico Wing has fielded a CyberPatriot team every year since 2013, and has increased its rankings year after year.

2017 CyberPatriot Team

Above (Clockwise from left): Cadet 2nd Lts. Kyle Stafford, Davis Little and Marshall Banks; Cadet Chief Master Sgts. Jacob Hensley and Mark Chappell, and Cadet Airman 1st Class Olivia Spafford, who made up the 2017 CyberPatriot high school team. (Photo: 1st Lt. Cael Chappell, CAP)

FAA Honors Socorro CAP Pilot

By Lt. Col. David G. Finley

SOCORRO, N.M. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) presented Civil Air Patrol Capt. David Pepitone with its most prestigious award – the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award – at a special meeting of the Socorro Composite Squadron on March 2, 2017. The award recognizes “individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as Master Pilots.”

FAA’s FAASTeam Program Manager Rich Hammer, and Front Line Manager Tamara Bell, from the Albuquerque Flight Standards District Office, came to Socorro to present the award, which included a certificate and a plaque. The ceremony included a video about the Wright Brothers Award and a history of the award, and a presentation by Pepitone about his career and aviation experiences.

Pepitone soloed in 1966 in a Cessna 150, gained flying experience while serving in the U.S. Air Force, and then earned his private pilot certificate in 1972. He went on to earn commercial and airline transport certificates, along with certification as a flight instructor.

After flying for Frontier Airlines, Pepitone joined Ford Aerospace, working at the jet propulsion lab as a human factors engineer. He then moved to the NASA Ames Research Center, managing a team of scientists and engineers designing and marketing advanced cockpit designs and systems.

At Boeing, he worked as a human factors engineer and as a flight deck engineer, designing and testing cockpits for aircraft such as the Boeing 777, 737NG, and 747-800. He then became an instructor pilot, training pilots for airlines that were the launch customers for the Boeing 737-700.

Pepitone joined Honeywell Aerospace in 1997, and worked there until his retirement in 2015. While at Honeywell, he graduated from the National Test Pilot School. His final positon with Honeywell was as a senior program manager for projects designing advanced cockpit displays.

He has received numerous honors and certifications, including election as a fellow to the International Royal Aeronautical Society, the highest honor conferred upon anyone by the British Royal Academy.

Pepitone has flown a huge variety of aircraft, such as the Boeing 777 and 747, as well as legendary warbirds such as the Messerschmitt 262 – the world’s first operational jet aircraft – and the Korean War-era MiG-15.

Pepitone joined CAP in 2014 in Arizona, and transferred to the Socorro Composite Squadron early in 2016. He serves as the squadron’s character development instructor and assistant aerospace education officer. Since joining CAP, he has become an instructor pilot and check pilot on gliders, an orientation pilot, and a transport mission pilot. He is a common sight wherever CAP gliders and cadets are gathered, and enjoys teaching the basics of aeronautics and piloting to New Mexico Wing cadets

“We congratulate Capt. Pepitone on receiving this honor from the FAA,” said Maj. Dennis Hunter, commander of the Socorro Composite Squadron. “We feel very fortunate to have him as a member of our squadron and our wing.”

“He is extremely enthusiastic about using his experience and guidance to inspire our cadets to become involved in aviation,” Hunter added, “and if they wish to pursue aviation careers. He is a great resource for our aviation and aerospace education programs.”

2017 Socorro Pilot Honored

Above (L-R): Capt. David Pepitone receives the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award from FAA Front Line Manager Tamara Bell. (Photo: Lt. Col. Dave Finley, CAP)

Los Alamos Cadet Receives Mitchell Award

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – On March 6, 2017, Civil Air Patrol cadet Jack W. Stafford achieved a milestone when he received the General Billy Mitchell award and was promoted to cadet second lieutenant. His promotion signifies completion of Phase II of CAP’s four-phase cadet program, which entitles him to advanced placement in Air Force basic training, makes him eligible for academic and flight scholarships and grants, and may even help him with officer training, should he decide to enroll in ROTC or apply to one of the service academies.

Typically, only 15% of cadets reach this achievement. Stafford, age 16, joined CAP four years ago and wants to pursue a career as a bush pilot and Airframe and Power plant mechanic. According to Stafford, “It’s definitely taken a lot of work and I’m very excited to have the honor of wearing this new rank insignia.”

His goal is to achieve the Amelia Earhart Award before he goes to college. (The Earhart Award signifies completion of Phase III of the Cadet Program, carries with it promotion to cadet captain, and entitles him to participate in the International Air Cadet Exchange.)

Stafford was inspired by other cadets in the squadron who have achieved the Mitchell award. Since 2010, Los Alamos Composite Squadron has boasted six cadet recipients of the Billy Mitchell Award.

Also promoted at the ceremony was Cadet Bryce Gentile, who became a cadet master sergeant. Recognized as well were Cadet Chief Master Sergeants Gabe Fox, Juan Romero and Zach Lang, who are well on their way to taking the Mitchell milestone exam.

Above (L-R): Los Alamos Composite Squadron emergency services officer Maj. Mark Peters presents the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award to Cadet 2nd Lt. Jack W. Stafford. (Photo: Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP)

New Mexico Wing Recognizes Cadet Achievements for Cadet Program’s 75th Anniversary

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Wing is doing its part to help observe the 75thAnniversary of Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program. The celebration was officially launched on March 3, 2017, by CAP’s National Commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Vazquez, at the organization’s Command Council meeting in Arlington, Va.

The year-long celebration comes only a year after CAP commemorated the 75thanniversary of its founding on Dec. 1, 1941. The Cadet Program was established nearly a year later, on Oct.1, 1942.

The memo authorizing the Cadet Program declared that any existing squadron could form a counterpart cadet unit for high school juniors and seniors, ages 15-18. Male members could sponsor one male cadet, and female members could sponsor one female cadet. The cadets had to be citizens of the United States for at least 10 years, as well as their parents. And they had to be in sufficient physical condition for military service.

“It was initially established to prepare teenagers for military service,” Vazquez said, and so the training focused on preflight skills, military law, drill and ceremonies, Morse code and signals.

In spite of the strict membership requirements – which were deliberately kept that way until a solid membership base could be established – Civil Air Patrol recruited over 200,000 cadets in the first six months of the Cadet Program. The initial recruiting cost was $200, which included printing and distributing brochures.

Over the years, the Cadet Program has undergone many changes. The program, as it now exists, was created in 1964 by Mr. Jack V. Sorenson, who is considered the father of the modern Cadet Program. Originally consisting of three milestone awards – Mitchell, Earhart and Spaatz – the program was revamped in 2003, with the elevation of the Wright Brothers Award (which had previously signified completion of Achievement 3 of the Cadet Program) to milestone award status; the creation of the Feik Achievement to signify completion of Achievement 3; the addition of the grades of cadet senior master sergeant and cadet chief master sergeant; and the addition of the Ira C. Eaker Award to signify completion of Phase IV of Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program.

While many are familiar with the national accomplishments of former CAP cadets, such as astronaut Eric Boe, New Mexico Wing wants to focus on the accomplishments of its local cadets.

“We want to show New Mexico Wing the contributions made by its former cadets,” said New Mexico Wing Director of Cadet Programs 1st Lt. Steven A. Lindquist. To date, New Mexico Wing has boasted 24 recipients of the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – the highest award a cadet can earn – with many Spaatz recipients holding key positions within the Wing. Recipients include Lt. Col. Andrew F. Selph, Assistant Director of Cadet Programs, and Group 800 Administrative Officer Maj. Gwen Sawyer.

 “We also know of at least five cadets who have been appointed to service academies in the past five years,” said Lindquist. “We hope that units within the Wing will provide us with additional information. We want to spotlight the contributions of cadets over the coming year.”

2017 Cadet Program 75th Anniversary Logo

 Integrity Makes its Maiden Flight

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Jan. 8, 2017, New Mexico Wing’s hot-air balloon program entered a new era when its new balloon envelope, Integrity, made its maiden flight from the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.

Integrity is the second balloon acquired by the Wing, since the Wing launched its new balloon program in July 2014. Integrity’s predecessor, Phoenix – which was donated to New Mexico Wing by a fellow balloonist – was retired in June 2016, when it failed its annual inspection.

The launch began at 7:15 a.m., with a weather and safety briefing by the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA). Balloon pilot Capt. Jessica Makin, of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron, directed the inflation of Integrity, which took about half an hour.

The balloon crew laid out tarps on the field to protect the envelope from grass, debris and bird droppings. Using a gasoline-powered fan, Makin began the inflation, and like a newborn coming into the world, Integrity slowly took shape.

As soon as the envelope was fully inflated, Makin gave the signal that she was “going hot” – that is, using the propane burner to heat and lift the envelope above the ground – and then, like its predecessor, Integrity rose like a phoenix to begin a new phase of the Wing’s hot-air balloon program.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee was the balloon’s inaugural passenger,accompanied by Makin (who served as check pilot on this voyage), and balloon pilot Lt. Col. William Fitzpatrick, commander of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron.

“The prime purpose of Integrity and the balloon program is the development of aviators and air-minded individuals and the continued growth of general aviation in our communities,” said Fitzpatrick.

Makin added that the balloon program has produced five private pilots since it was started two and a half years ago.

The balloon lifted off and remained aloft for approximately one hour, landing at the old Coronado Airport, approximately two miles east of its launch point. After the chase crew had repacked the envelope, the passengers, pilots and crew headed back to the Balloon Fiesta Park.

“Flying in Integrity was a milestone for me,” said Lee. “After all the hard work so many good people accomplished, everything came to fruition.”

Lee concluded, “With this beautiful new envelope, we will be able to carry the CAP name and logo far and wide for many to see.”

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Above: New Mexico Wing’s new hot-air balloon Integrity prepares for takeoff. (Photo: Maj. John English, CAP)

NM Wing Change of Command Caps Exciting Aerospace Extravaganza

By Maj Dave Finley

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — In an impressive change-of-command ceremony attended by CAP National Commander Maj Gen Amy Courter, Col Richard Himebrook handed over the reins of the New Mexico Wing to Col Mark Smith on 25 June. The ceremony, held at Albuquerque’s Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, concluded a two-day Aerospace Extravaganza featuring an exciting lineup of aviation and space-related activities.

A member of CAP since 2005, Col Smith is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who retired as a Colonel. A pilot with more than 3,500 hours in F-4D, AT-38B, and F-15C aircraft, Smith served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He commanded a fighter squadron and directed the Air Force’s award-winning Joint Advanced Distributed Simulation Joint Test and Evaluation Program. He currently works as an independent consultant to industry. In CAP, he has served as a squadron commander, director of the Southwest Region Staff College, and as NM Wing Vice Commander.

“On behalf of the entire New Mexico Wing, I want to thank Col Himebrook for his truly outstanding performance as wing commander, and congratulate him on a job well done. We wish him and his wife Roberta the very best for this next chapter of their lives. I’m happy that he has agreed to serve as Advisor to the Commander and continue to give us the benefit of his vast pool of knowledge,” Smith said.

Southwest Region (SWR) Vice Commander Col John Varljen presided over the change-of-command ceremony, also attended by incoming SWR commander Col Frank Buethe and New Mexico National Guard Deputy Adjutant General Brig Gen Paul Pena.

Among the numerous tributes and gifts to the outgoing wing commander was a framed, minature American flag and NASA patch that flew to the Moon aboard Apollo 15.

The ceremony capped two days of exciting aerospace-education activities that drew participants from around the state. These activities included workshops for cadets and senior members, an in-depth tour of the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array radio telescope, an extensive flight-line tour at Kirtland AFB, and tethered hot-air balloon rides at the balloon museum.

The featured speakers at the Aerospace Extravaganza were famed aviation pioneer and CAP Col Mary Feik, after whom a cadet achievement award is named, aerospace engineer Robert Sandusky, chief engineer on the YF-23, and Colonel Edward J. Masterson, Chief of the Spacecraft Technology Division, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB.

The New Mexico Wing of the CAP has more than 900 members in squadrons throughout the state. The wing was established in 1941 and its members have been serving in volunteer missions since World War II.

New Mexico Civil Air Patrol Earns “Excellent” Rating

By Maj Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) earned an “Excellent” rating from U.S. Air Force evaluators during an intensive evaluation of the Wing’s emergency-services operations on Saturday, 30 April 2011. The evaluation involved CAP members throughout the state who demonstrated their abilities in search-and-rescue, disaster-relief, and homeland-security operations.

“I’m extremely proud of our team’s performance. This wing is made up of great people and it shows,” said Colonel Richard Himebrook, the NM Wing Commander.

During the evaluation, New Mexico crews flew CAP aircraft under the control of a command post at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The aircrews and ground personnel practiced a variety of missions similar to those CAP regularly is called upon to perform.

Ten aircraft and 70 CAP members participated in the exercise. Members from CAP units in Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Clovis, Farmington, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, Roswell, Santa Fe, Socorro, and Taos were involved.

Scenarios in the exercise included an overdue aircraft, wildfire reconnaisance, transport of blood plasma, and a number of aerial photography assignments. The primary focus for much of the day was on searching for a simulated overdue private aircraft carrying a state legislator that failed to arrive at its destination on a flight from Farmington to Alamogordo.

“That is a long route that covers a lot of territory, and makes for a challenging search,” said CAP Major Scott Zenonian, the Incident Commander for the exercise.

Other missions involved transporting simulated blood plasma from Roswell to Ruidoso, reconnaisance of active and recent wildfire sites, and reconnaisance of facilities considered potential targets for terrorist attacks.

The Air Force evaluation team set up the scenarios to test the New Mexico Wing’s capabilities to operate, manage, and prioritize the efforts of its equipment and personnel. The exercise focused on maximizing teamwork, interfacing with other organizatons, and using standardized procedures.

“In a sense, this was a stress test for our emergency-services team, with the Air Force throwing simulated difficulties at us to see our responses,” Zenonian said.

The simulated difficulties included injury to a pilot before a flight, making him unable to fly as planned, and an emergency evacuation of the mission base, forcing the incident commander and his staff to operate from an alternate location. In one CAP aircraft, an Air Force passenger ordered a simulation of the pilot becoming incapacitated, and a non-pilot crew member had to take over flying the plane, which he did right up to the final moments before landing.

“What makes me especially proud is how every participant, both senior member and cadet, worked well together as a team. This was the main ingredient in the wing performing so well,” Himebrook said.

Test messages and directives from the Air Force evaluation team began setting up the scenarios earlier in the week. In response to one of those directives, CAP members operated a radio network demonstrating statewide communications capability on Thursday.

The New Mexico Wing of the CAP has more than 900 members in squadrons throughout the state. In addition to 13 aircraft, the wing has numerous vehicles and an extensive, self-contained radio communications network. The New Mexico Wing was established in 1941 and its members have been serving in volunteer missions since World War II.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 60,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and was credited by the AFRCC with saving more than 100 lives last fiscal year. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 69 years. For more information on CAP, visit gocivilairpatrol.com

 

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CAP Aircrew deplane on flight line at Las Cruces. Navy T-34C trainers in background. (Photo by Capt Dave Finley)

Las Cruces Hosts Successful Multi-Agency Exercise

B y Capt Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing teamed with other agencies for a combined air-ground search-and-rescue (SAR) exercise based at the Las Cruces airport on Saturday, 5 March. The all-day exercise included multiple scenarios and provided extensive experience in multi-agency coordination and communication.

CAP members from Las Cruces, Roswell, Alamogordo, and Socorro joined with the Organ Mountain Technical Rescue Team, Dona Ana County SAR, and Mesilla Valley SAR teams, Las Cruces Fire Department, Radium Springs Volunteer Fire Department, and the New Mexico State Police to practice emergency services missions. Five scenarios were conducted simultaneously, with searches for an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), a lost hiker, an injured climber, aerial survey of possible flooding, and aerial survey/photographs of a possible wildland fire.

Three CAP aircraft flew sorties and five ground teams took to the field. The ground teams included two technical-rescue teams and one team mounted on ATVs. More than 60 personnel from all agencies participated in the exercise. The exercise was directed from an Incident Command Post at the headquarters of the Las Cruces Composite Squadron at the Las Cruces airport.

The Incident Command System was implemented using Unified Command with staffing from multiple agencies including CAP, Organ Mountain Technical Rescue, Mesilla Valley SAR, and the Las Cruces Fire Department. The command structure worked extremely well.

All the searches succeeded in accomplishing their objectives.

“This exercise proved to be an excellent opportunity to work with other agencies and practice communicating with them effectively and cooperating closely in making the missions a success,” said Lt Col Paul Cline, the Incident Commander.

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CAP Shines at the Legislature

CAP cadets present colors in the chamber of the New Mexico House of Representatives, 25 February 2011. Cadets and senior members visited the Legislature, met with lawmakers, and watched proceedings. The day was officially proclaimed “Civil Air Patrol Cadet Day” by Gov. Susanna Martinez, recognizing the benefits and contributions of the CAP cadet program. (Photo by Philip Fischer.)

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ELT was transmitting aboard shrink-wrapped aircraft being transported by truck.(Photo by Lt Col Paul Cline)

Errant ELT in a Shrink-Wrapped Airplane

By Capt Dave Finley

When a satellite report indicated an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was activated south of Santa Fe on 31 January, New Mexico Wing personnel responded as they have done many times before.  A ground team went to the reported location expecting to find an aircraft.  However, they found nothing.

Surprisingly, the next satellite report of the same ELT indicated it was near Anthony, in the far southern part of the state.  Clearly, the aircraft carrying this transmitter wasn’t crashed and wasn’t stationary!

As it turned out, the plane was moving, but not under its own power. “It was sitting, shrink-wrapped, on the trailer of an 18-wheeler,” explained Lt Col Paul Cline, the NM Wing’s Director of Communicatons, who found the aircraft.

Cline had received a call from Lt Col David MacLaughlin, the Wing’s Emergency Services Director, giving him the new location of the ELT.

“I immediately got a hunch, and called the Flying J Truck Stop in Anthony,” Cline recalled.  “I asked if there was a truck in their parking lot with an airplane on it.  The guy said yes.  I told him to not let the truck leave until I got there,” Cline said.

When Cline arrived at the truck stop, he confirmed the ELT was in the shrink-wrapped airplane, then went inside and turned it off.  The plane, an Orion experimental model from V-Raptor, LLC, was enroute to the manufacturer’s facility in Sebastian, Florida.

“The truck driver said he’d been hauling planes for 20 years and never had that happen before,” Cline said.

Mission complete.

BilleyWithCadets

Navajo Code Talker Wilfred Billey with NM Wing cadets at 2010 Wing Conference. (Photo by 1stLt Helen Green)

Wing Conference 2010: An Exciting, Successful Gathering

By Capt Dave Finley

New Mexico CAP members gathered for an information-packed and exciting Wing Conference 12-14 November in Farmington. The program included speakers from National Headquarters and the Southwest Region, and a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from a World War II Navajo Code Talker.

Efficiently hosted by the Farmington Composite Squadron, the conference opened with a Friday-night reception and pool party. The official proceedings got underway Saturday morning in a general session featuring informative updates on aviation and CAP. David Ploeger, Director of the New Mexico Aviation Division, outlined the State’s plans for airport improvements and took questions from members. Special guest John Salvador from National Headquarters, brought members up to date on nationwide developments in CAP.

NM Wing Commander Col Richard Himebrook outlined the state of the wing, citing statistics and accomplishments from the past year. He illustrated his presentation with photos from his visits to squadrons throughout the state. The CAP Southwest Region was represented by the Region Inspector General, Lt Col Sharon Lane, a familar face to NM CAP members.

For many, the highlight of the conference was a special “fireside chat” Saturday afternoon with Wilfred Billey, a New Mexico native and World War II Navajo Code Talker. Recruited out of high school in 1943 by the Marine Corps, Billey joined the unique group of Navajos who used their native language to provide secure communications to American forces in the Pacific war. Their code never was broken by the Japanese.

Billey told of his experiences in Marine Corps boot camp, the special training he and the other Navajos got in becoming combat radiomen, and of the realities of combat as Marines invaded island after island in the drive toward the Japanese homeland. A veteran of battles at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, Billey returned home, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and spent 40 years as a teacher, counselor, and school principal.

After speaking and taking questions from seniors and cadets, Billey signed autographs and posed for photos with cadets, each of whom now has a personal connection to an honored and heroic part of American history.

On Saturday and Sunday, the conference included learning labs on a variety of topics, including finance, encampments, transportation, emergency services, operations, professional development, aerospace education, communications, and public affairs. A special session offered coaching on public speaking for cadets, and other sessions offered tips on web page design, Microsoft Excel, and the Becker direction finder.

The Saturday night banquet and awards ceremony was entertainingly emceed by Capt Anthony Torres and marked the social highlight of the event. The evening’s keynote speaker was NM State Representative Tom Taylor, the House Minority Leader and a pilot.

The Farmington Composite Squadron, led by Maj Scott Zenonian, did an outstanding job of organizing and conducting the conference. Their efforts paid off in an event that was enjoyable and rewarding for all attendees.

The 2011 NM Wing Conference will be held in Albuquerque.

NM SAR Exercise a Successful Training Experience

By Lt Col Jay T. Tourtel

SANTA FE—New Mexico Wing’s Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), held on 23 October at Santa Fe Municipal Airport, was largely successful, according to Maj. John Gravel, CAP, incident commander.  Both aircrews and ground teams accomplished most of their objectives, with two scenarios being aborted due to inclement weather.

The incident command post was established at 6:00 a.m., and mission personnel reported in starting at 7:00 a.m.  At 8:00 a.m., Capt. Lloyd J. Voights, operations section chief, gave the initial briefing:     Two aircraft crashes, both simulated, one near Farmington and the other one near Tecolote, northwest of Las Vegas.  Ground teams in Farmington and from Albuquerque were dispatched to search for the Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) in the area.  By 10:00 a.m., flight crews had received their briefings and were dispatched to the search areas.
 
 
 
By 10:00 a.m., a lost hiker (also simulated) had been reported missing in the area southwest of Las Vegas and ground teams were dispatched to the area.  Search aircraft also performed photo reconnaissance of railroad tracks east of Belen, and power lines north of Clovis. A ground team in Farmington was also on station to search for an ELT in their area.  By 2:00 p.m., the winds had increased, causing the ELT searches to be aborted, but both downed aircraft were found.  Personnel began to demobilize by 5:00 p.m., and by 7:00 p.m., the mission was closed.
 
 
 
New Mexico Wing Civil Air Patrol worked in cooperation with the Tecolote Fire Department and San Miguel County Search and Rescue.  Both agencies were impressed with the professionalism of the ground team officers and cadets.  Cadets assisted in training the fire department and showing them how CAP can support their needs.
 
 
 
During the after-action debrief, key personnel agreed that the mission went well overall, and that mission personnel performed to the best of their abilities, gaining valuable experience in the process.    Additionally, outside agencies had a chance to watch CAP in action, and to think of New Mexico Wing the next time they need search and rescue help. “The SAREX is the meat of search and rescue,” said Lt. Col. David McLauchlan, project officer for the exercise.

CAP Gulf Effort Tops 10,000 Volunteer Hours, 1,000 Flight Hours

CAP is providing a huge level of support to the efforts to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The CAP effort now has surpassed 10,000 volunteer hours and 1,000 flight hours. Some are calling this CAP’s biggest mission since the antisubmarine patrols of World War II. This is an effort that all members can cite with pride. For full details, see the news on the CAP national web site.

 

Eagle Squadron Cadet is SW Region Cadet of Year

 
A Socorro cadet is making the transition from the New Mexico desert to the Connecticut seacoast as he joins the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2014. Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Trey Thunborg of the Socorro Composite Squadron departed New Mexico 24 June with his family, headed for New London, CT, and a scheduled swearing-in ceremony 28 June.
 
Thunborg is one of 290 members of the academy’s incoming class, selected from more than 4,000 applicants. The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is ranked among the nation’s most prestigious and selective institutions of higher learning. The smallest of the nation’s five federal service academies, it provides a highly-structured environment for a unique higher-education experience focusing on academics, athletics, leadership, and professional military development. Graduates gain commissions as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.
 
Thunborg has been an outstanding CAP cadet, joining the newly-formed Socorro squadron as a charter member in 2007. He was one of the first two Socorro cadets to be promoted to Cadet Airman in August of that year, and was the first of that squadron’s cadets to gain each new rank thereafter. He was the honor cadet at the New Mexico Wing’s summer encampment in 2008, and attended National Blue Beret in 2009.
 
“As a cadet, he took on a leadership role almost immediately,” said squadron commander Capt. Dave Finley. “He learned quickly and just as quickly turned around to teach our younger cadets and those who joined us later. He developed into an effective cadet leader, and was looked up to by all the other cadets,” Finley added.
 
Thunborg was a standout scholar and athlete at Socorro High School, and was recognized for his achievements at the school’s annual awards ceremony on 12 May, just prior to his graduation. At that ceremony, Thunborg was formally presented with his certificate of appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. With no Coast Guard representative available, Finley was tapped to make the presentation.
 
“It was a great honor to present Trey with his certificate in front of his fellow students and their families. It was gratifying to see him get a well-deserved standing ovation when he came forward to receive the certificate,” Finley said. “All of us in the Civil Air Patrol are very proud of his success and his dedication to serving our country. We wish him the very best of luck in his new endeavor.”

By Lt Col Paul J. Ballmer

Cadet Major Daniel E. Paulsen of the Eagle Cadet Squadron, New Mexico Wing, was presented with the Southwest Region Cadet of the Year Award by Colonel Joseph C. Jensen, Commander of the Southwest Region, during the New Mexico Wing Commander’s Call and Staff Meeting June 26.

swrcadetofyearCadet Paulsen has served the New Mexico Wing as the Cadet Commander for the 2008 Winter Encampment and the Commandant of Cadets for the 2009 Winter Encampment as well as being a squadron representative to the wing’s Cadet Advisory Council. In November 2009 he was given the New Mexico Wing Cadet of the Year Award. He was awarded the Commander’s Commendation Award for his service as the 2008 Winter Encampment’s Cadet Commander. In 2006, Paulsen was selected as the Honor Cadet of the 2006 New Mexico Wing Summer Encampment.

In the Eagle Cadet Squadron, Paulsen served as the Cadet Commander, Assistant Administration Officer, Assistant Moral Leadership Officer, Assistant Leadership Officer, Executive Officer, Flight Commander, First Sergeant, and Flight Sergeant. He was the Squadron’s Cadet of the Year in 2008, and the Enlisted Cadet of the Year in 2006.

Paulsen also has been active in many community activities , including serving on the summer staff of the Spring Canyon Officer Christian Fellowship Conference Center, and doing volunteer work for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) La Luz Academy on Kirtland AFB. He also assisted with maintenance and concessions for the Mile High Little League and is a member of the youth group in his church.

Outside of the Civil Air Patrol, Paulsen works as an Engineering Aide with the Junior Space Scholar Student Temporary Employment Program at the AFRL La Luz Academy, where he serves as a computer technician completing setup, configuration, and maintaining three classroom computer labs that support science, technology, engineering, and math-related activities for students from fifth grade through high school.

Paulsen recently graduated from High School and will attend the Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, beginning in September.

Paulsen has only to complete a speech and an essay and serve the required time and he should earn Civil Air Patrol’s Ira Eaker Award and the rank of C/Lt Col in July.

NM Cadet Goes to Coast Guard Academy

A Socorro cadet is making the transition from the New Mexico desert to the Connecticut seacoast as he joins the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2014. Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Trey Thunborg of the Socorro Composite Squadron was sworn in at the academy in New London, CT, on 28 June.

thunborgpresentThunborg is one of 290 members of the academy’s incoming class, selected from more than 4,000 applicants. The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is ranked among the nation’s most prestigious and selective institutions of higher learning. The smallest of the nation’s five federal service academies, it provides a highly-structured environment for a unique higher-education experience focusing on academics, athletics, leadership, and professional military development. Graduates gain commissions as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thunborg has been an outstanding CAP cadet, joining the newly-formed Socorro squadron as a charter member in 2007. He was one of the first two Socorro cadets to be promoted to Cadet Airman in August of that year, and was the first of that squadron’s cadets to gain each new rank thereafter. He was the honor cadet at the New Mexico Wing’s summer encampment in 2008, and attended National Blue Beret in 2009.

“As a cadet, he took on a leadership role almost immediately,” said squadron commander Capt. Dave Finley. “He learned quickly and just as quickly turned around to teach our younger cadets and those who joined us later. He developed into an effective cadet leader, and was looked up to by all the other cadets,” Finley added.

Thunborg was a standout scholar and athlete at Socorro High School, and was recognized for his achievements at the school’s annual awards ceremony on 12 May, just prior to his graduation. At that ceremony, Thunborg was formally presented with his certificate of appointment to the Coast Guard Academy (Photo above). With no Coast Guard representative available, Finley was tapped to make the presentation.

“It was a great honor to present Trey with his certificate in front of his fellow students and their families. It was gratifying to see him get a well-deserved standing ovation when he came forward to receive the certificate,” Finley said. “All of us in the Civil Air Patrol are very proud of his success and his dedication to serving our country. We wish him the very best of luck in his new endeavor.”

NM Wing Conducts ICS-300 Course

ics300The New Mexico Wing conducted an ICS-300 course at Wing Headquarters 21-23 May. This FEMA course, Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents, is not offered online and must be taken in person. It is a requirement for numerous CAP Emergency Services specialties, as well as for leadership/management roles for personnel from agencies responding to incidents.

The course was led by CAP Lt. Col. Larry Nelson and featured outstanding instructors with a broad range of experience and expertise. Enrollment was not limited to CAP and attendees included members of police and fire services as well as search-and-rescue and Community Emergency Response Team organizations. This provided the dual benefit of allowing the CAP attendees to learn from those representing other agencies and for the CAP members to make those personnel more aware of the functions and capabilities of CAP within the emergency-services community.

This cross-training aspect was particularly effective during the many small-team, scenario-based exercises conducted throughout the course. CAP members found themselves answering numerous questions about CAP’s role and capabilities.

Reminder: Change to Non-“U.S.” Command Patchcap_command_patch_3d_web

A reminder that the transition period is over and there now is only one approved CAP Command Patch. That is the one announced in 2008 that does not include the “U.S.” Wear of the new command patch on uniforms became mandatory on 1 March 2010. Emblems with the “U.S.” on vehicles and aircraft will be phased out through attrition.

 

Wing Conducts Successful Unit Commanders Course

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Current and potential unit commanders got the benefit of the experience and expertise of seasoned CAP officers at a Unit Commanders Course held at NM Wing Headquarters in January. The course, directed by Lt Col Mark Smith, received enthusiastic reviews from participants.


 

2009 New Mexico Wing Conference a Great Success


By Capt. Dave Finley

The 2009 New Mexico Wing Conference, held 13-15 November in Las Cruces, featured seminars, socializing, outstanding presentations, and top-flight entertainment by a talented and famous CAP member. Attendees heard from Wing Commander Col. Richard Himebrook, Southwest Region Commander Col. Joseph Jensen, and Mr. Joe Curry from National Headquarters. Other featured speakers included Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Dr. William Gutman of Spaceport America, and Col. Michael Schwartz of the NM National Guard.

Aviation legend Col. Mary Feik made a return visit to the NM Wing Conference, hosting a popular fireside chat with cadets, and the closing Awards Banquet was treated to a performance by Lt. Col. Paul Salas of the Texas Wing, with his famous reincarnation of Frank Sinatra.

The event began Friday evening with popular social events at the conference hotel, the Ramada Palms de Las Cruces. Senior members attended a reception hosted by Col. Himebrook, the Wing commander, while cadets enjoyed an indoor poolside party. These events were great opportunities for members to make new friends and network with members from squadrons throughout the state.

The formal conference began Saturday morning, with a General Assembly in which participants were welcomed to Las Cruces by Mayor Miyagishima, then heard a report on the state of the Wing from Col. Himebrook. The Wing commander was followed by William Gutman, Technical Director for Spaceport America, Joe Curry from National Headquarters, and SW Region Commander Col. Joseph Jensen. Gutman’s presentation brought members up to date on the progress of construction at New Mexico’s spaceport, which will be headquarters for Virgin Galactic’s commercial suborbital space flights. The spaceport is expected to draw tourists from around the world and provide many aerospace-related jobs in the state.

Following the morning’s General Assembly, there were numerous seminars on different aspects of CAP, including safety, logistics, aerospace education, professional development, and drug demand reduction. During this period, Col. Mary Feik held a fireside chat with cadets. As a legendary test pilot, mechanic, and aircraft restorer, Feik is highly popular with cadets and thoroughly enjoys talking with and inspiring young people.

At the end of the afternoon, participants gathered for another General Assembly that featured speakers from New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Branch Community College, outlining technical and training programs at their institutions. A highlight of this assembly was an inspiring presentation by Col. Michael Schwartz of the NM National Guard.

Following a late-afternoon social hour, members convened for the Awards Banquet. An excellent dinner was followed by numerous awards recognizing achievements throughout the Wing over the past year. The top awards included: Squadron of the Year, Albuquerque Senior Squadron II; Cadet of the year, C/Maj Daniel A. Paulsen; Senior Member of the Year, Major Donna E. Bracken; Family of the Year, the McNichol family; and Decade of Dedication award, Lt. Col. James H. Gary.

The evening closed with eagerly-anticipated entertainment by Lt. Col. Paul Salos, of the Texas Wing. Salas, who was active in CAP missions following Hurricane Katrina and the Columbia space-shuttle disaster, has perfected an impersonation of Frank Sinatra that carried him to the top 10 on the “America’s Got Talent” TV show. Salas has performed his Sinatra show for audiences around the world, and the NM Wing members received his performance enthusiastically.

On Sunday, a nondenominational devotional service was followed by additional seminars on communications, finance, inspector general, and a meeting of the Cadet Advisory Council.  As the conference ended, all who participated felt it had been a rewarding and interesting meeting.

“The Las Cruces Composite Squadron did an excellent job in organizing this conference, and we appreciate all their hard work. They made it possible for members from throughout the state to meet, network with each other, learn new things about CAP, and have a good time,” concluded Col. Himebrook. Himebrook also commended the Las Cruces Composite Squadron’s Cadet Color Guard for their opening and closing colors ceremonies.


NM Wing Gets “Excellent” Rating in OPSEVAL

By Capt. Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing completed its OPSEVAL, a major statewide emergency-services exercise, on 26 September, in which a U.S. Air Force evaluation team gave the Wing an overall rating of Excellent.
The CAP members demonstrated their skills in aerial search and rescue, disaster relief, and support for homeland security. The Air Force team directed the exercise by providing a simulated scenario involving overdue aircraft, massive wildfires, and terrorist threats. New Mexico CAP members working in the air and on the ground reacted to the simulated incident reports, which presented them with multiple problems and changing scenarios.

“This was an excellent chance for our team of emergency-services specialists to react to a rapidly-changing and fluid situation. Our members had to plan operations, change those plans quickly to address new priorities, and conduct operations under the stress of a swiftly-changing situation,” said Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock, the Incident Commander for the exercise.

Colonel Richard Himebrook, commander of the New Mexico Wing, congratulated the team, saying their excellent rating is “well deserved and showed not only what the New Mexico wing can do, but reflects well on CAP as whole.”

More than 50 CAP members, including crews for nine aircraft plus support and communications personnel on the ground in locations around the state, participated in the exercise. The operation was planned and controlled from a mission base at the Farmington airport. The Wing received an overall Excellent rating with 8 Excellent and 5 Successful subarea ratings. Especially mentioned were the Flight Line crew led by Lt. Griffin Lane and Capt. William Fitzpatrick, the Communications group led by Capt. Glenn Mauger, and Plans led by Lt. Col. Dave Simonson.

Aircraft were directed to numerous locations, including Cochiti Dam, Navajo Dam, Heron Lake, El Vado, Chaco, Silver City, and Hatch, as well as the track of a “missing” helicopter in the Four Corners area. The CAP flying crews made visual searches of the ground, as well as taking digital photos of specified locations and rapidly providing those photos for detailed analysis by ground personnel. The flight crews also used specialized equipment for locating emergency locator radio beacons activated by aircraft crashes.

During the exercise, the Air Force team added difficulties for the CAP, such as simulating one of the CAP aircraft going “missing,” ground personnel showing signs of extreme stress, and a forced evacuation of the command post. “They threw us some curve balls, but our team reacted effectively and professionally,” Hitchcock said.


NM Wing Gets “Excellent” Rating in OPSEVAL

By Capt. Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing completed its OPSEVAL, a major statewide emergency-services exercise, on 26 September, in which a U.S. Air Force evaluation team gave the Wing an overall rating of Excellent.
The CAP members demonstrated their skills in aerial search and rescue, disaster relief, and support for homeland security. The Air Force team directed the exercise by providing a simulated scenario involving overdue aircraft, massive wildfires, and terrorist threats. New Mexico CAP members working in the air and on the ground reacted to the simulated incident reports, which presented them with multiple problems and changing scenarios.

“This was an excellent chance for our team of emergency-services specialists to react to a rapidly-changing and fluid situation. Our members had to plan operations, change those plans quickly to address new priorities, and conduct operations under the stress of a swiftly-changing situation,” said Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock, the Incident Commander for the exercise.

Colonel Richard Himebrook, commander of the New Mexico Wing, congratulated the team, saying their excellent rating is “well deserved and showed not only what the New Mexico wing can do, but reflects well on CAP as whole.”

More than 50 CAP members, including crews for nine aircraft plus support and communications personnel on the ground in locations around the state, participated in the exercise. The operation was planned and controlled from a mission base at the Farmington airport. The Wing received an overall Excellent rating with 8 Excellent and 5 Successful subarea ratings. Especially mentioned were the Flight Line crew led by Lt. Griffin Lane and Capt. William Fitzpatrick, the Communications group led by Capt. Glenn Mauger, and Plans led by Lt. Col. Dave Simonson.

Aircraft were directed to numerous locations, including Cochiti Dam, Navajo Dam, Heron Lake, El Vado, Chaco, Silver City, and Hatch, as well as the track of a “missing” helicopter in the Four Corners area. The CAP flying crews made visual searches of the ground, as well as taking digital photos of specified locations and rapidly providing those photos for detailed analysis by ground personnel. The flight crews also used specialized equipment for locating emergency locator radio beacons activated by aircraft crashes.

During the exercise, the Air Force team added difficulties for the CAP, such as simulating one of the CAP aircraft going “missing,” ground personnel showing signs of extreme stress, and a forced evacuation of the command post. “They threw us some curve balls, but our team reacted effectively and professionally,” Hitchcock said.

 

 

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