Mid-Atlantic Region Members Gather in Va.
Senior Member David McNally
Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Harford Composite Squadron
More than 300 cadet and senior members from Civil Air Patrol’s newly renamed Mid-Atlantic Region gathered over the weekend for leadership development and fellowship.
The event, hosted by the Virginia Wing at a convention center near Richmond, brought together members from the region’s seven wings – Delaware, Maryland, National Capital, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.
“It’s been a really wonderful year for us, and it’s been a really hard year as well,” said Col. Bruce B. Heinlein, Mid-Atlantic Region commander.
“What an incredible year it has been,” Heinlein said. “With Hurricane Florence ... what an incredible response. Each and every wing within our region responded to this disaster.”
During the conference, leaders cased the colors of the Middle East Region and unfurled the new colors representing the Mid-Atlantic Region.
The Middle East Region designation had been in use since 1950, but the new name will provide people with a clear geographic reference, Heinlein said.
Representing national CAP leadership at the event, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dandridge, the organization’s national command chief, encouraged members to “lead by example and be the one who can find the answer, know the answer or go out and get the answer.”
Cadets started the conference with a field trip to a nearby science museum, while senior members engaged in networking and a full day of seminars. Later, cadets met for professional development and flight simulator sessions.
“This flight sim was one of our labs here at the conference,” said Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Louis Fattrusso, a member of the Virginia Wing’s Southside Composite Squadron. “I was also helping other cadets with their takeoffs and landings.”
An aspiring future U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, Fattrusso said he hopes his time in CAP will also lead to a private pilot certificate and continued professional development opportunities.
“I’ve got leadership skills. I’ve got aerospace skills,” he said. “I’m also able to go out and help people with the qualifications I have.”
The cadet deployed last year to Wilmington, North Carolina, as part of CAP’s Hurricane Florence disaster relief efforts.
Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Candace Bryner of the Virginia Wing’s Hampton Roads Composite Squadron joined CAP in February 2018 and has quickly risen in rank and responsibility.
“I love this program,” Bryner said. “I would recommend people join it to better yourself and better your own discipline, and especially if you want to join the military like I am, it really helps you to get ahead of the game and just be the best you can be.”
During the evening awards banquet, Virginia Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Ryan challenged the cadets to be ready for the next challenge.
“Many people think they know what the next challenge will be,” Ryan said. “Some will say it will be in cyber or unmanned systems, or just watch the news.
“But the reality is, we don’t know what the next challenge will be. What we do know is we have an obligation to be ready,” he said.