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Commander’s Commentary—November 2011

October is typically a bit of a slow month for the Civil Air Patrol. It is the start of a new fiscal year and for the past several years due to the economic conditions and the delay in passing a budget our funding comes to us under a continuing resolution. We get just enough to get through our missions but not enough for major training exercises.

With that said we had a joint mission with West Virginia Wing for a missing aircraft that was flying from Virginia to Pennsylvania and reported having problems near Grantsville, WV. The weather was marginal when the aircraft went missing. It ended up being a four-day mission and members from across Maryland responded in their typical professional manner. Four ground teams and ten aircraft answered the call for help from our neighbors. Our Plans and Programs (A5), Operations (A3), Special Missions, (A2) and the command staff supported the efforts both here and in West Virginia. This response once again demonstrates our willingness to serve.

We received word a few days ago that due to the continuing resolution that the federal government, US Air Force and Civil Air Patrol are operating under our funding, and all Air Force funding has been modified to a month to month release. Due to this issue all nonessential missions are on hold. This is in order to preserve the limited finds available for actual search and rescue and other real world missions. We hope this is a short duration problem but all we can do is wait until Congress passes the budget and the president signs it. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

We have had several changes in command at Maryland Wing squadrons this past month, specifically at Mt. Airy where Lt. Col. Judy McLellan stepped down from command and handed the reins over to Capt. Steve Weinhold, and at Fort McHenry Capt. Don Ells handed over command to Maj. Chris Hiles. Lt. Col. McLellan and Capt. Ells were both exemplary commanders and everyone in their squadron and the Wing benefited from their leadership. Maj. Hiles and Capt. Weinhold have some pretty big shoes to fill but I have complete confidence that they will do a great job. Please help support them as they settle in to one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs in the Civil Air Patrol.

The Wing Conference is just around the corner, November 11 – 13th and if you act fast it may not be too late to join us. We have an outstanding program on hand and we will be recognizing many of your fellow members for their exemplary service. I hope to see you there.

In closing I need to take the opportunity to thank everyone in the Wing that sent condolences or stopped in to support my family and I as we celebrated the life of my mother. It is never easy to lose someone you love but I know she is in a better place without pain. Words cannot express my thanks to Lt. Col. LaPre, Lt. Col. Winter, Ms. Sherry McManus along with a number of other Wing staff who, for the last month and a half, quietly stepped up to help ease some of the day to day duties to allow me to spend more time taking care of her. We spend so much time performing our duties and working with fellow members that we end up being more of an extended family supporting each other in challenging times. Thank you for all your support from the Knowles Family.

Commander, Maryland Wing