Gen. Smith Discusses CAP, Aviation Past with Air Force's Airman Magazine
National Commander and CEO Maj. Gen. Mark Smith talks about all things Civil Air Patrol in an interview posted Tuesday atop the homepage of Airman Magazine’s website.
Airman is the official magazine of the U.S. Air Force. It’s published bimonthly online by the Defense Media Activity group and is considered a major publication of the U.S. Air Force.
Entitled “Serving, Saving, Shaping,” the Airman post includes a 4½-minute video of Smith’s interview, which was conducted in December in Washington, D.C. He was interviewed by Joseph Eddins, and a transcript of a portion of the question-and-answer session is also posted on the website.
On Wednesday, Smith responded to the post, saying he was grateful for the experience.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to tell Airmen across the world about Civil Air Patrol,” he said. “It is my hope that it will make them and others more aware of the capabilities of CAP and encourage them to one day join us in our many missions for America.”
In the Airman interview, Smith talked about a life-changing mentor who guided him to the Air Force Academy, which allowed him to fulfill his childhood dream of being a fighter pilot.
Smith told Eddins the experience has greatly affected his current mission to build CAP cadets into leaders of the future. “I love to talk to young people about the power of mentorship because it’s something that made a fundamental difference in my life and being able to achieve my life goal,” he said.
The Airman transcript includes an old photo of Smith and one of his mentor, the late Air Force Reserve Maj. Ray Powell. Another photo from his career in the Air Force shows Smith in the 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
But much of the transcript deals with CAP and Smith’s post as national commander/CEO, which he called “the best job in the world.”
He told Eddins two things attracted him to CAP — the volunteers who make up the Air Force auxiliary and the ability to continuing flying in service to his country.
“These are amazing people who are giving of their time, treasure and talents to serve community, state and nation and doing a wide variety of amazing things,” Smith said. “So what’s not to like about that? Then the stick and rudder flying, of course I love airplanes, love flying, and it’s nice to still do that.”
Other interview topics ranged from CAP’s rich history to its current role as a force-multiplier for the Air Force. Smith talked about the organization’s steadily increasing role in America’s homeland security as the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force.
“We have 61,500 volunteers who are passionate about being volunteer Airmen and making a difference for community, state and nation,” Smith said. “CAP is unlike any other volunteer organization I’ve ever seen. They’re doing things that are helping on an operational level, whether it’s disaster response or search and rescue or developing young people to be highly successful and ethical leaders for the next generation.”
John Salvador, CAP’s chief operating officer, said Smith’s interview was a first for the organization.
“This is the first time CAP’s national commander/CEO has ever been interviewed by the Air Force for a major story,” he said. “We appreciate Airman Magazine taking the time to do this.”