CAP Impact features a regular series of articles showcasing how individual Civil Air Patrol members make a difference inside and outside the organization.
Packed Pantry: South Carolina Cadet Collects Cereal for Children's Home
The children and teens served daily at the Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes in Milledgeville, Georgia, won’t have any concern about where breakfast is coming from for the next several months. Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Melinda Kaye Mercer of the South Carolina Wing’s Lexington Composite Squadron took care of that the day after Christmas.
Mercer takes Civil Air Patrol’s core value of volunteer service to heart. Her community service work this fall included providing food for several Blessing Boxes in different communities, serving underprivileged children who visit The Hotdog Club in Macon, Georgia, and donating nonperishable items to Free Fridges in Macon and Milledgeville.
She expanded her efforts after reading about the Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries and after her mother, Maj. Rachael Mercer, South Carolina Wing Group 3 commander, visited the nonprofit’s website and learned about college students volunteering to organize a pantry.
That’s when the cadet, who joined CAP just after turning 12 in March 2020, decided to pitch the idea of a cereal drive …
Double Duty: ‘Father John’ Serves Air Force, CAP as Chaplain
When John F. Reutemann III, who serves as a chaplain in both Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. Air Force, was promoted to Air Force major Nov. 3, he marked yet another milestone in his journey serving members of CAP and the military.
Reutemann, who many in CAP and the Air Force call “Father John,”, is an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Corps College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, also the home of CAP National Headquarters.
He serves as the course director for the Embedded Religious Support Team Course after previously served serving as one of two course directors for the Basic Chaplain Course, which all new active active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Air Force chaplains attend.
Reutemann holds the rank of chaplain lieutenant colonel in CAP. He joined the organization in August 1996 as a cadet in the Maryland Wing's Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron. …
Cadet Serves as Virginia Toys for Tots Youth Ambassador
Turns out Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all the North Pole elves aren’t necessarily the busiest people in the world during the holidays after all.
Instead, one strong candidate for that distinction is Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Morgan Raymondson of the Virginia Wing’s Southside Composite Squadron. Here are some of the things that will keep Raymondson, a long-distance runner, on his toes in December:
● He’ll turn 17 on Dec. 27.
● His dad’s birthday is Dec. 29.
● He leads the local Toys for Tots campaign and involves his fellow Civil Air Patrol cadets in the program.
● Oh, and the family squeezes in Christmas between birthdays. …
Cadet NCO of the Year Excels in New Mexico Wing as Leader
As a high school freshman, Verity Gray promised she would take the initiative to challenge herself and serve others around her at the same time.
“Though this was a very general goal of mine, it has become one of the values that is most central to my personal identity,” Gray said.
Now that she’s a senior at East Mountain High School in Sandia Park, New Mexico, as well as a cadet first lieutenant in the New Mexico Wing’s Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron, Gray can relax: At age 17, she’s already accomplished her goal …
New Jersey Wing's Vergara Works to ‘Teach the Youth to Dream’
Capt. Jose G. Vergara was 55 when he joined Civil Air Patrol in 2015, and true to his nature his reasons for signing up were selfless.
He wanted to support his daughter, Veronica, as a cadet, and he wanted to teach and motivate young people toward science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers through aerospace education.
Vergara retired in 2022 after a 22-year career as a civilian with the Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center of the U.S. Army. He has four college degrees, including a master’s in engineering management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
In short, he had the ideal qualifications for supporting his daughter and motivating other youth. And he wasted no time in doing that once he joined CAP, donating many hours every week to that goal.
Miller's Mission: ‘To Help and Serve’
Lt. Col. David Miller is an admitted “Star Trek” buff who’s met every prominent actor in the iconic series except for William Shatner.
While Miller, a family practice physician, may never share the bridge of the Enterprise with Shatner as Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, he knows more than a little about compassion — the powerful medicine crafted of service, hands, heart, and mind.
It could be said that through his work in Civil Air Patrol and in medicine, Miller is helping others “live long and prosper.”
Miller, a 17-year CAP member and the 2021 Missouri Academy of Family Physicians Physician of the Year, also serves as the North Central Region director of public affairs, where he’s been honored for his work and as Missouri Senior Member of the Year and Public Affairs Officer of the Year …
Retired Police Officer Making Impact in New Jersey Wing
Way back in 1982, Amy Myzie knew it was time to rejoin Civil Air Patrol after a lapse of a few years during her new career at a New Jersey police department.
She had joined CAP as a cadet in the early 1970s in Connecticut and loved it. In 1978 she was hired as a dispatcher for the Piscataway Township Police Department and a year later became an officer. She served for 30 years, moving from patrol officer to sergeant and lieutenant before retiring in 2010.
In 1982, after dropping out for a while to get her police career off to a good start, she was ready to reconnect with Civil Air Patrol, this time as an adult member.
She’s never doubted any of those decisions ,,,
Massachusetts Wing's Williams Tells Cadets: Leadership Can be Messy
A gaggle of waterlogged Civil Air Patrol cadets huddled on the hallowed ground of Gettysburg National Military Park. Hours before, rain had fallen in buckets, just as it had on the second day of the pivotal July 1863 Civil War battle.
There — fittingly in soggy muck where Union and Confederate blood once soaked the soil — Lt. Col. Thomas Williams of the Massachusetts Wing taught the cadets a hard lesson:
Sometimes leadership, like life, is messy.
“Overall … what I see in the world is the world is not linear. The world is complex, full of wicked problems,” Williams said. …
After 50+ Years, National Capital Wing's Davies Still Finding Acceptance, Purpose
Jane Davies, a first-generation American, wasn’t accustomed to the word “can’t.”
But as a freshman engineering major at the University of Connecticut’s Waterbury campus, the glass ceiling crashed hard, thanks to one pontificating professor.
“On the first day, there were 10 women in the class [Introduction to Engineering], and after he made his pronouncement — and it was quite a long pronouncement — the gist was, ‘You don’t belong here.’
‘The next morning,” Davies recalled, “there were two of us in the class. It was the first time someone had ever told me I couldn’t do something.”
Not much else has stopped Davies since, especially in Civil Air Patrol …
North Carolina Member Follows Call from Classroom to Global Conflict
Some hear it as a calling, the irresistible, undeniable tug toward a higher purpose. Still others sense “a still, small voice” to make a difference in the world, whether in their neighborhood or across the globe. No matter the term, Civil Air Patrol Maj. Tim Bagnell seems to have always had a finely tuned ear and heart to detect that gentle nudge. It’s taken him from the financial sector as a financial officer to the class- room as teacher in North Carolina, and to war-torn Ukraine to train emergency medical technicians.
His research on STEM-related topics led him to CAP and its aerospace education program …
True Grit: Throughout Cancer Fight, North Carolina Cadet 'Keeps Putting Others Ahead of Myself'
“Courage” is an overworked noun that lazy sportscasters and “happy talk” TV morning news anchors have beaten into submission to the point that it doesn’t effectively conjure the fortitude that wells inside some people — people like Cadet 1st Lt. Ally Davis of the North Carolina Wing's Union County Composite Squadron .
Still just holding on to her teen years, “grit” is a better word to describe Davis’ no-holds-barred bout with adversity that drives her to not only overcome obstacles but also achieve amazing things in the process — things most of us would think too daunting to try. even without a life-threatening battle at the door …
From Cadet to State Emergency Official: ‘CAP Prepared Me for This’
When President Joe Biden visited New Mexico this summer to learn about the largest wildfires in the state's history, he was briefed by a New Mexico Wing member only two years removed from his Civil Air Patrol cadet days – 1st Lt. Mark Chappell, acting director of the state’s Emergency Operations Center
When Chappell spoke before the cameras, he said later, he was fully aware millions “were watching and listening to every word I said.”
At the same time, he added, he felt “like this is exactly what CAP has been preparing me for." …
Nevada Cadet Trailblazes with Willing Hands, Tender Heart
By any standard, Dana Surwill is a trailblazer.
Trailblazers take risks. They put service before self. They face criticism – like the kids say, haters gonna hate.
And they achieve while accomplishing something no one has ever done before …
Lessons Florida Officer Learned in Antarctic Cold Impress Cadets in Subtropical Tampa
For the young members of the Florida Wing’s 89th MacDill Aviation Cadet Squadron, Lt. Col. David Panzera brings a valuable added dimension to Civil Air Patrol activities For the young members – including one vivid lesson from his days flying in Antarctica, a far cry in more ways than one from the squadron's Tampa location.
A CAP command pilot and former U.S. Air Force pilot with over 6,000 hours in Air Force aircraft, Panzera is the squadron’s deputy commander …
Bennett Boosts CAP Cadets' Pilot Plans Through Advanced Flight Training Academy
While many adults hold fast to childhood vacation memories peppered with cartoon princesses and castles, camping trips, or ballpark hotdogs, Morgan Bennett had her eyes on the skies and her head in the clouds.
“When I was little, Mom and Dad (Cindy and Ray Bennett) would always take us down to Pensacola Beach on vacation during Blue Angels week, because that’s what Dad wanted to do,” the Anniston, Alabama, native said ...
Flight Instructor Role Allows Wisconsin Member to 'Mentor 0thers, Form Friendships, and Help Pilots'
Maj. Karen Kalishek seemed destined to make an impact on the world from the time she turned 16 and was on her own, working full-time through high school, college, and graduate school.
Those around her through those early years couldn’t help but notice – and be affected by – her determination to make it. She did that a long time ago, and she’s still making a huge impact on associates and people she serves through Civil Air Patrol, the National Association of Flight Instructors, and her work as a flight instructor …
‘I Came for the Flying and Stayed for the People’
Every member of Civil Air Patrol does what they can to help support its missions. And as CAP’s operations have increased through the organization's role in the Air Force’s Total Force, CAP members have had to balance volunteering with their work/life/family obligations.
And perhaps no member of CAP juggles their schedule more than Col. Martha Morris, the former Arizona Wing commander who has been serving as the Southwest Region commander since August …
Great Lakes Region's Hunt: 'Aways Treat People with Respect'
Col. Rose Hunt has a two-word philosophy — along with an ethic that makes a longshoreman’s work habits look like those of a middle school boy — that has propelled her trailblazing career in business and in Civil Air Patrol.
“If you treat people with respect, give them the value they deserve, they’ll go forth and do great things,” Hunt said. “If you’ve made them feel important and valued, they’ll do great work. You need to help them understand the ‘Why.’ Always start with the ‘Why?’ Take care of your humans." …