By Capt Brenda Reed , Public Affairs Officer, Maryland Wing
/ Published May 06, 2008
BALTIMORE -- Maryland Wing members of the Civil Air Patrol began their fifth consecutive year of service and support to the Maryland Air National Guard on Warfield ANG base. As a regular duty assignment, CAP members serve meals at the dining hall to Guard personnel during ANG drill weekends, working side-by-side with 175th Wing services flight members.
The program started in January 2003 with just a phone call and an offer by CAP to help. The Maryland National Guard services flight was mobilized for combat operations and deployed on short notice to the Middle East. With both the A-10s and the services flight deployed, the services flight was unable to support home station drill weekends. The Glenn L. Martin Composite Squadron of the Maryland Wing, whose headquarters was located at the airport that shares an airfield with the Guard, stepped in and provided a team of cadets and officers to augment remaining members of the 175th Wing services flight. This proved to be a huge success and the teams continue to be supported by Maryland CAP Wing members year round during the weekend drills, which include two separate weekends on most months.
In 2007 alone, it is estimated that Maryland CAP wing members served in the dining hall for more than 1,500 man-hours. During that year, three Maryland Wing squadrons performed more than 85 percent of these hours: the Osprey Composite Squadron (294 hours), the Glenn L. Martin Composite Squadron (336 hours), and the Carroll Composite Squadron (588 hours). CAP Col. Jerry Weiss, Maryland Wing commander, recognized these three squadrons for their outstanding service during the 2007 Maryland Wing conference.
For 2008, squadrons throughout Maryland have already signed up to cover all the required slots for the entire year. The enthusiasm and support of the CAP units is high, with squadrons quickly taking these coveted times to serve.
As part of our CAP details, members support the dining facility by setting up, cooking, serving, checking IDs, and cleaning the facility. Cadets and officers alike receive training and perform nearly every duty associated with running the aerospace dining facility.
Cadets who participate in these details get a taste of service in the Guard and get the opportunity to talk with and work alongside these service members. Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Michael Schuster, of the Carroll Composite Squadron, has attended more than 20 ANG dining hall details in his two years with the Maryland Wing. "I love everything -- arrival, preparation, serving, trash duty too, and clean up. Other than the summer activities, it is by far my favorite squadron activity," said Schuster.
The positive relationship that began with the dining hall teams in 2003 expanded as the Guard realized the benefit of having CAP support at various functions through the base Family Services. Over the years, Maryland Wing members have supported open houses, Easter egg hunts, welcome home events, and Family Day. CAP has had primary support responsibility for all Family Day activities sponsored by the Family Services department.
CAP members have provided services such as set up and tear down, clean up, escorting dignitaries with the Maryland Wing cadet honor guard, and food service.
The Maryland National Guard has also invited Maryland Wing to participate in State missions through the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). When Hurricane Isabel impacted the Maryland coastline, CAP members worked alongside state personnel at MEMA headquarters, manning radios, providing transportation, and serving wherever needed.
The Maryland National Guard saw our members in action, requiring very little supervision and getting the job done. We are considered professionals that work alongside the regular Guard personnel during these activities.
"Our Civil Air Patrol professionals of the Maryland Wing bring a capability to the Maryland Air National Guard that no other can match -- the ability to successfully integrate and synchronize work efforts into the daily, State and Federal Missions," said CAP Maj. Joseph Winter, who has a dual role as the military liaison officer for Maryland Wing and serves as an officer in the Maryland ANG. "CAP is a true force multiplier and assists in the mission effectiveness of the Maryland Air National Guard every day. It makes me very proud that we have such a large number of dedicated cadet and officer members who selflessly give their volunteered time every month."
In a reciprocal manner, Maryland ANG airmen enjoy participating in the annual Tri-Wing Encampment for the cadets, many taking vacation time from their regular jobs to help CAP. From serving in the dining hall to instructors, providing orientation rides in C-130J and Black Hawk helicopters, transporting cadets to off site activities, and even rappelling, Airmen are a visible part of our encampment each year. Orientation rides by the Guard in C-130J and Black Hawk helicopters are one of the highlights of cadets during the encampment.
Brig. Gen. Charles Morgan III, Maryland assistant adjutant for air, attends the encampment each year for the opening briefing and the graduation banquet. He is often joined by the 175th Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Guy M. Walsh, who takes great pride in the relationship established between the wings.
Throughout all this, including the encampment Career Day, the Maryland Guard does not view Civil Air Patrol as a recruitment tool. Walsh describes the program as a win-win for the ANG, CAP, and our community no matter what each CAP participant's career ambitions may be.
"Our focus is simple; to expose CAP cadets to our 175th Wing mission area and more importantly to our core values: integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do," said Walsh. "I am so proud of how these CAP cadets have performed over the past five years. Our success has hinged on their tireless efforts and they have come through each and every drill for over five years."
The cadets have benefited the most from this relationship. With the exposure they receive working alongside Maryland Guardsmen, many cadets do join one branch of military service or another. Over the past 10 years, at least 20 Maryland Wing cadets have joined the Maryland Air Guard, in addition to cadets who have joined the Delaware Guard.
Cadet Schuster, 18, hopes to join the Maryland Air National Guard this summer and continue his education. "Even though I already had planned to join the Air Force in some capacity, the drills made me accustomed to base policies and practices," said Schuster, "and I have really enjoyed every minute of it."