5/1/2006–Rockville, MD–President Bush greeted members of the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) following a speech he made about education initiatives at the Parkland Magnet School for Aerospace Technology in Rockville, Md.
"Thank you for encouraging your children to aim high," said the President, who was accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.
After noting that he saw CAP cadets in the room and calling out "Civil Air Patrol" to invite them to have a picture taken by a member of his staff, Bush shook hands with the CAP members in attendance and posed for a picture with them.
Bush arrived in the afternoon at the middle school, one of three magnet middle school programs in Montgomery County that were funded by a $7.2 million federal grant.
Lt. Col. John Knowles of Ashton, Md., vice commander of the wing and at the time the commander of the wing's Group I, was invited to hear the speech along with three cadets from the wing's Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron. They have been working with students and teachers at Parkland in a program co-sponsored by Group I and the wing's Bethesda-Chevy Chase squadron.
"We were presented with a unique opportunity when the school system announced it would be developing an aerospace magnet middle school," Knowles said. "Correspondence, briefings, and meetings began over 18 months ago to try and develop ties to Parkland by providing assistance with their curriculum development and setting up a partnership for some of the students to participate in the CAP cadet program."
About 30 staff members from Parkland signed up as CAP aerospace education members and 11 have been taken on orientation flights out of Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Md. Parkland is sponsoring a school program for cadets, a first for a middle school in the Maryland Wing, as a step toward establishing an actual squadron at the school.
The three cadets who accompanied Knowles have all received commander's commendations for their work at Parkland.
Cadet Sasch Maraj, a second lieutenant in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase squadron, is a sophomore at Walter Johnson High School, and has served as the primary drill instructor for the Parkland students in the program. Cadet Colleen Vineer, a second lieutenant in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase squadron, is a junior at St John's College High School, and has served as a drill instructor and leadership instructor for the Parkland students. Cadet Rachel Knowles, a senior master sergeant in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase squadron, is a senior at Holy Cross High School, has served as the coordinator for the cadets that are working at Parkland.
"Every week for the past six months they have gotten a ride or driven from their homes to Parkland to teach leadership, aerospace, and drill to the 21 students that signed up for the CAP after-school program," Knowles said. "This is completely separate from their squadron duties; Maraj as the cadet executive officer, Vineer as cadet deputy commander, and Knowles as the cadet emergency services officer. Without their participation in these activities, Maryland Wing's efforts in starting a middle school squadron would not be possible. They set an outstanding example for the students."
The President also briefly toured Parkland, which is attracting students from around the county to its advanced science and math classes. Parkland is temporarily located in the Tilden Center in North Bethesda, until renovations at the permanent Aspen Hill location are complete in the fall of 2007.
CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 57,000 members nationwide. CAP volunteers perform 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies.
Last fiscal year more than 1,800 of CAP's dedicated members helped hurricane victims; CAP aviators and aerial observers flew more than 1,000 air missions; ground teams performed 131 missions and visited 4,266 homes; and other volunteers distributed 30,000 pounds of relief supplies. CAP members also conducted 2,507 search and rescue missions, saving 73 lives. Throughout the year, CAP also took part in important homeland security missions; many CAP pilots flew target-intercept training for U.S. fighter pilots.
Members take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 23,000 young people currently participating in the CAP Cadet Program. CAP's cadet programs provide young men and women with a safe and motivating environment in which to grow and explore opportunities in the military and aviation industries. Cadets progress through a 16-step program of leadership and aerospace education. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 65 years.
There are approximately 1,300 members of CAP in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 34 search and rescue missions and were credited with 23 finds.
For information about the Maryland Wing of CAP, visit http://mdcap.org/ or listen to weekly episodes of "Civil Air Patrol Today" broadcast every Sunday morning on the following radio stations:
In addition, programs may be listened to at the Maryland Wing web site at http://mdcap.org/radio/ and can also be subscribed to as a podcast.