11/7/2009–Rockville, MD–More than 200 Civil Air Patrol members from around the state recently gathered together for the annual Maryland Wing Conference and Military Ball. This year’s event was held at the Hilton Hotel and Executive Meeting Center in Rockville, Md.
The weekend began on Friday evening with a cadet masquerade dance. This event, organized by Cadet Maj. Elizabeth Roberts of the Harford Composite Squadron, was an evening of music, dancing, and fun as costume-clad cadets from all over the Wing danced the night away. Maj. Jim Schmidt of the Maryland Wing Headquarters squadron served as the disc jockey for the evening. Prizes were given for the best costumes.
The main portion of the conference was held on Saturday starting with breakfast and the opening session, during which Col. Jerry Weiss, Maryland Wing commander, and Lt. Col. John Knowles, Maryland Wing vice commander, presented the State of the Wing address to the members. Successes and goals for the past year were reviewed.
Mr. John Swain from the National Headquarters Washington, DC, office presented the CAP Executive Director’s report, informing Maryland members of updates at the national level.
Following the general session, members attended training sessions that were designed to meet the needs of the variety of duty assignments and interests. More than 20 sessions were presented, including a water survival session that included a practical portion in the hotel swimming pool. Courses included training in professional development, aerospace education, public affairs, emergency services, government relations, air operations, investigations, drug demand reduction, military music in history, along with other topics.
Cadet members attended a full day cadet conference with training sessions in honor guard and color guard techniques, emergency services, aerospace education, leadership activities, and a panel quiz competition. Cadet Col. Wayne Mowery of the Osprey Composite Squadron was the cadet project officer for the cadet conference.
The traditional Awards Luncheon provided Maryland Wing command staff to recognize the accomplishments of the many members that have excelled throughout the year.
The presentations began with a performance by the U. S. Air Force 70th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Drill Team from Fort Meade, Md. The team conducted several training sessions in the cadet conference on color guard and honor guard techniques.
Ms. Amanda Rogers-Thorpe, Appropriations Legislative Assistant to Congressman “Dutch” Ruppersberger, presented a flag that was flown over the U. S. Capitol to Col Jerry Weiss in honor of the 68th anniversary of the Civil Air Patrol.
Lt. Col. Eric Haertel, Group I commander recognized a number of Group 1 members by presenting Achievement Awards to Capt. David Burket, 1st Lt. Jacob Gerstein, 1st Lt. Douglas Holly, 2nd Lt. Louis Krupnick, 1st Lt. Gashaw Mengistu, and Capt. Philip Walker.
Wing Commander’s Commendations were presented by Col. Jerry Weiss to Capt. Peter Blechinger and Lt. Col. John Mariakis of the Maryland Wing Headquarters Squadron for the outstanding work they have done as members of the Inspector General’s team over the past two years.
Col. Russell Chazell, CAP National Chief of Staff, joined Weiss in presenting a National Commander’s Commendation to Capt. Jeff Welch of the Bowie Composite Squadron for his outstanding work he has done over the past two years coordinating CAP’s participation in the Air Force Joint Open House at Andrews Air Force Base.
Col. Joe Vazquez, Commander of the Middle East Region presented a Meritorious Service Award to 1st Lt. Ron Long of the Mt. Airy Composite Squadron. Lt. Long has been the project officer for the Maryland Wing Aerospace Academy for the past eight years and is responsible for teaching over 350 cadets about glider operations as well as introducing them to flight in a glider.
Lt. Col. Wes LaPre, Group III Commander, then spoke about the numerous outside agencies that are friends of the Civil Air Patrol without whose help some things could not be accomplished. Mr. Eric Flamino, Chairman of the Anne Arundel County Tipton Airport Authority, and Mr. Carl Kesselring, President of the Experimental Aircraft Assocation, Chapter 4 - College Park, were both recognized during the conference for their outstanding support.
Maryland Wing acknowledged the members present who have worked long and hard in their professional development. The following were presented the Loening Award for completion of Level III of the senior member program: Maj. Robert McCall, Capt. Martin Brown, Capt. Colin Carmello, Capt. Jerry Owens, and Capt. Christopher Roche.
The following conference attendees were recognized for completing Level IV and were awarded the Garber Award along with receiving a Maryland Wing Commander’s coin from Weiss: Lt. Col. Paul Blechinger, Maj. Mark Piersall, Maj. Kenneth Thom, and Capt. Sherry McManus.
The Maryland Wing commander recognized Lt. Col. Clarke Cloukey for serving as a member of the CAP for over 30 years of service to not only the Maryland Wing but the Pennsylvania and Ohio Wings as well.
Weiss presented the Amelia Earhart Award to Cadet Capt. Jason LaPre. The Earhart Award is the third milestone of the Cadet Program and signifies the completion of the first eleven achievements of the Cadet Program.
Weiss then presented the annual ‘of the year’ awards, recognizing the members that excelled during the past year in their duty assignments.
Following an afternoon of training sessions, members and friends joined together for the annual Military Ball, proceeded by the Commander’s Reception, hosted by Col. Jerry Weiss, Maryland Wing commander. This conference is the fourth and final conference under Weiss’ tenure and reflects many new traditions that have been established under his influence.
The tradition of the parade of group flags and squadron guidons by cadets from around the Wing provides the opportunity to recognize each unit in the Wing.
The Maryland Wing Band, part of the Chesapeake Bay Senior Squadron, provided the music for the evening, including the national anthem and medley of military anthems from the different branches of service.
Special guest for the evening was Brig. Gen. Allyson Solomon, Maryland’s Assistant Adjutant General for Air, who is responsible for the Maryland Air National Guard that provides outstanding year-round support to Maryland Wing.
Col Roy Douglass, Commander of the North Carolina Wing, attended our conference for the first time. As he has traditionally done in the past Weiss made Douglass an honorary Maryland Wing member by presenting him with a black baseball cap. Weiss also made Col. Russell Chazell, CAP’s National Chief of Staff, an honorary member of the Maryland Wing and presented him with a cap.
Weiss presented a gift to Col. Rodney Moore, past commander of the West Virginia Wing. During Moore’s tenure as Wing commander, he worked closely with Weiss on the first joint SAREX between the two Wings. Moore presented a gift to Col Weiss, a large print of Blackhawk helicopters coming through the mountain pass with many of the CAP aircraft in the foreground taken during the joint SAREX.
Weiss was recognized for his outstanding service to the Maryland Wing during his tenure as Wing Commander with the presentation of a second flag flown over the U.S. Capitol Building presented by Lt. Col. Rory Garnice, commander of the Maryland Wing Legislative Squadron.
Three Maryland Wing officers were recognized for earning the highest award in the CAP professional development program, the Gill Robb Wilson Award. Brig. Gen. Solomon joined Col. Weiss in presenting the awards and a challenge coin to Lt. Col. Timothy Corrigan and Lt. Col. John Weiser of the Maryland Wing Headquarters Squadron, and Maj. Michael Crockett of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron.
The evening culminated in the presentation of a number of awards by Col. Weiss to deserving members.
Lt. Col. Tim Corrigan was named Maryland Wing Staff Officer of the Year for his work as the Wing Legal Officer.
Maj. Jeff Thomas was named Senior Member of the Year. Thomas is the commander of the Glenn L. Martin Composite Squadron and has been a member of Maryland Wing for nine years.
Cadet Col. Wayne Mowery, Jr., of the Osprey Composite Squadron, was named Cadet of the Year. Mowery, a CAP member since 2004, was also awarded the CAP-USAF Middle East Liaison Region Cadet of the Year Award by Mr. Edward Gelzinis, CAP-USAF State Director.
Each year, the Cadet of the Year selects one member that has been the biggest influence in their CAP career. Mowery named his squadron commander, Maj. Patricia Filipiak, as his mentor. Filipiak was awarded the CAP-USAF Torch Award for her mentorship and guidance of Mowery as he progressed through the cadet program.
Group Commanders joined Weiss in presenting their choices for Group squadron of the year awards. Squadron guidons were presented as the Group Commander tied on the award streamer for the units.
Lt. Col. Eric Haertel named the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron as the Group I Squadron of the Year.
Maj. Bill Parris named the Fort McHenry Composite Squadron as the Group II Squadron of the Year.
Lt. Col. Wes LaPre named the Bowie Composite Squadron as the Group III Squadron of the Year.
The Bowie Composite Squadron was also named Squadron of the Year for the Wing by Weiss. Capt. Jeff Welch, who commanded the squadron for the past year, was also named Squadron Commander of the Year.
The Group of the Year Award went to Group II, commanded by Maj. Bill Parris.
Following the award portion of the evening, members celebrated and danced the night away.
This year's conference was planned by Capt. Brenda Reed, Maryland Wing public affairs officer and commander of the Carroll Composite Squadron. The on-site coordinator and registrar of the event was Ms. Sherry McManus, Wing Administrator.
The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U. S. Air Force, was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, less than a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U. S. into World War II. CAP is a nonprofit organization with more than 56,000 members nationwide. The organization’s members perform 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, and were credited by the AFRCC with saving 103 lives in fiscal year 2007. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.
Members take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 25,000 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. CAP has been performing mission for American for more than 63 years.
There are approximately 1,400 members of CAP in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information, visit www.mdcap.org.
Editor's note: Ms. Sherry McManus, Wing Administrator, assisted in providing details for this article.