CAP cadets visit, learn about the 27th SOW
USAF photo: Greg Allen Staff Sgt. George Whitehead, 27th Special Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, answers questions about the MQ-9 Reaper from Civil Air Patrol cadets during their visit to Cannon on July 9. Cadets from Amarillo and Lubbock, as well as Clovis, toured the base and got the opportunity to fly in a 16th Special Operations Squadron aircraft.
Civil Air Patrol cadets and their leaders from Texas and New Mexico received much more than a “cook’s tour” when they visited the 27th Special Operations Wing on July 9.
Their visit included an orientation flight on a 16th Special Operations Squadron C-130, “slick” or unarmed aircraft, a hands-on viewing of the MQ9 Predator, and a view of the base from its tower. The cadets’ experience was more in depth because of the unique relationship between the CAP and the Air Force.
The Civil Air Patrol is the official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force and is congressionally chartered. This non-profit organization has three key missions: search and rescue, disaster relief and aerospace education. Although it is sponsored by the Air Force, its volunteer civilians are not part of any reserve component or governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The two squadrons, SWR-TX-293 from Lubbock, with 11 cadets and senior members and SWR-TX-353 from Amarillo, with 15 cadets and senior members coordinated their visit with the Clovis CAP squadron, SWR-NM-060.
“We saw this as an excellent opportunity for the cadets here to meet cadets from other squadrons,” said Staff Sgt. Angelito Cooper, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron. “It would also be a good way to increase our membership here.”
Cooper is one of the volunteers for the Clovis squadron, and became involved because of Commando Family Day in September 2009.
“There were a lot of booths in the hangars with information about various organizations,” said Cooper. “I saw some information about the Civil Air Patrol, it interested me, and so I made a phone call.”
Tech. Sgt. Norm Bowie, 27th Special Operations Group, is another airman who volunteered to work with the Clovis CAP, but his initial involvement came through a very different route.
“I was in the CAP when I was growing up,” said Bowie. “My father was in the Air Force and I figured it was a way to see things on (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.) that I normally wouldn’t get a chance to see.”
In addition to seeing and learning more about aircraft, membership in the CAP has additional “perks). Cadet 2nd Lt. Thomas Johnson recently learned that he had earned the Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell Award in the CAP program, which placed him in the top 15 percent of all cadets nationwide. As a Mitchell cadet he may apply for college and flight scholarships, apply for Cadet Officer School or enter the Air Force as an Airman 1st Class should he decide to enlist.
Johnson is the son of Lt. Col. John Johnson, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Lt. Col. Vicky Johnson, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron. The two are active supporters of the Clovis CAP and were instrumental in arranging the tour.
Jacob Jefferson is a cadet from Amarillo who has been in the CAP for less than two months. He is so new he doesn’t yet have a name tag on his uniform.
“I joined the CAP because I like PT but I am sure glad to be here today,” he said, shortly after his plane ride.
For the young cadet as well as most of the others, it was his first flight on a military aircraft, but more than a plane ride, the tour gave them the opportunity to learn from airmen at Cannon what it takes to serve.
Kyle Vernon, deputy commander for cadets in Lubbock, thanked the Cannon team that supported the tour and wrote, “I wanted to share something from our squadron’s trip home. During a rest stop I asked out cadets how many wanted to join the military. Without looking around or hesitation, our 11 cadets responded 100 percent. In eight years doing these kinds of tours I have never had that happen. You made them start planning. That’s a measure hard to top.”