Next generation Airmen… CAP cadets awarded for excellence

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

As the sun slowly sets over the horizon, cadets of the General Chuck Yeager Cadet Squadron in Brandon, Florida line up in formation for drill. Sounds of their cadence carry. Hup, Twop, threep, fourp, column left… harch. They practice and practice, seeking perfection with every step.

For the 49 cadets and 20 senior members in the Civil Air Patrol assigned to the General Chuck Yeager Cadet Squadron, their service isn’t only a hobby - it’s a passion.

Their volunteer service provides essential support that keeps the Air Force mission going through emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

“The Civil Air Patrol assists the Air Force in many of its homeland security missions, to include counter-drug surveillance missions, drug interdiction flights, aerial imagery for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Air Combat Command Green Flag missions, training for Combat Air Patrols, air defense exercises in support of the Super Bowl, and providing orientation flights for both the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps,” said Major Keith Barry, the squadron commander with the General Chuck Yeager Cadet Squadron.

The squadron’s dedication to excellence has paid off. Their squadron was hand selected out of nearly 80 squadrons in the Florida CAP wing as the 2017 Squadron of Merit, an award that recognizes the top cadet or composite squadron in each wing.

In addition to the 2017 Squadron of Merit award, the squadron was also selected for the 2017 CAP Squadron of Distinction for the southeast region, which consists of the wings in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The CAP Squadron of Distinction factors in the squadron’s strength and growth rate as well as the cadets’ achievements, encampment attendance and orientation flights.

Along with the squadron awards, their commander was selected as the 2016 Squadron Commander of the Year and was inducted into the Florida Wing Circle of Excellence for his contributions to the cadet programs mission.

“These awards mean a lot to our squadron,” explained Cadet First Lieutenant Kara Kennedy, the cadet deputy commander of the General Chuck Yeager Cadet Squadron. “We've grown and expanded so much over the past few years, and it's really neat to be able to see our accomplishments reflected by this award.”

The awards demonstrate the squadron’s impact on both the local community as well as around the Air Force.

“It was a great honor to be selected for these awards, as it recognizes members of our squadron for their dedication and service to both the Tampa Bay community and the CAP mission,” explained Barry.

In addition to assisting with the Air Force Mission, CAP provides the young cadets with leadership opportunities and education for future Airmen as well as American citizens.

“Celebrating its 75th year, the role of the CAP Cadet Program is to transform youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders,” said Barry.  “The Civil Air Patrol follows a military model and emphasizes Air Force traditions and values while incorporating a curriculum of leadership, aerospace science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as physical fitness and character development.”

According to Barry, the skills they provide creates a strong foundation for the youth that volunteer.

“I originally joined CAP to learn more about the military and particularly the Air Force,” said Kennedy. “Not only did I learn about the military and the Air Force, but I also grew in my leadership skills and abilities.”

Moving forward, the squadron hopes to continue to inspire cadets and support the Air Force, keeping it mission ready.