Previously I wrote about the rescue of Marcus Luttrell from the perspective of the pilot that picked him up. It changed the way I view training, the process of building skills, and keeping skills current. I also now think differently and the small role I play in the world / unit. Below was my message to the cadets regarding an approach they may consider applying to their CAP “career” and beyond.
Civil Air Patrol is not just another youth organization to keep you busy. The Civil Air Patrol is the Air Force Auxiliary with real missions. The CAP has a reporting structure to Air Force staff. By participating in CAP you are indirectly helping the Air Force fulfill it’s mission. The cadet program is a stepping stone to prepare you to participate in SAR missions or to help others perform a SAR mission. If you leave CAP, you are short changing your ability to support missions to be of service to your community, state, and nation. Those are more than words in the Cadet oath.
Like the maintenance crew that worked on the helicopter’s and aircraft that rescued Marcus Luttrell, every CAP member contributes to successful execution of CAP missions. Large organizations cannot be successful by putting many responsibilities on a few people. Being part of a large organization means you may feel your part is small and insignificant. Looking at the big picture, having a small role helps you spend the time to excel at your responsibilities and eventually take on more responsibilities.
As Cadet airmen, you are building skills (training) to become leaders. As cadet NCO’s and staff, you are building your skills to lead and the skills of the Cadet Airmen you lead. You won’t be a cadet forever. Hopefully you become Senior members, continue training, and become part of a ground or air team. You may train for years before getting assigned a mission. If your role in a mission is to make sure the radios have freshly charged batteries and are in working order, that is a crucial role that contributes to the success of the mission.
In the past couple of weeks, the California wing with support of squadrons not far from us, were called to perform a mission, they found the pilot alive, and coordinated his extraction to safety. When I first began writing this series, I could not have known this actual event would take place. The recent event confirms all that I have said. We don’t know how or when the call for help will come. Once the smoke clears from the King fire, CAP may be called upon to document the extent of the damage. Local CAP units are probably preparing mission plans for when the call comes. As CAP members, Seniors and Cadets we can tell the story of how we are still a vital organization with real missions.
I hope I have inspired you to remain active in CAP and to see it as an organization that will need you for your lifetime. There are many roles to fulfill and skills to learn, relearn and practice. There are many opportunities to improve the organization. There are many fun activities to participate in and yes it all takes work. The rewards may not be obvious now. There is at least one pilot that is probably still thankful for a prepared CAP crew and will be for some time.
I’m signing up for more training. How about you?