Adrian Daily Telegram: Walberg addresses new Civil Air Patrol cadets
MADISON TWP. — A group of cadets were honored Tuesday in a ceremony that marked their graduation from a basic training course of the Adrian Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), receiving a certificate from U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.
The cadets were given their cadet oath and pinned with their first stripe, the first of 17 that could be achieved by cadets through CAP’s cadet program.
The new cadets, ranging in age from 12 to 18, were part of a group of 12 recruited last September by squadron commander, Lt. Col. Mark Davalos. Since early October, the students took part in a rigorous 10-week training course to learn the basics of their role as CAP cadets, which included training in leadership, character development, teamwork, cooperation, physical fitness and communication.
“All the initial things that we do as a cadet program, to make sure they’re ready to start the cadet program,” Davalos told the attendees, most of whom were parents of these and other cadets. “One of the things about Civil Air Patrol that’s really, really cool is you will do and see and experience things that you really don’t even know how awesome Civil Air Patrol can be yet. You will soon and this is the start of that ... .”
Davalos said that the course also taught the new cadets the history of CAP, marching, ceremonies, how to salute, wear a uniform and stand straight and stand up when they talk.
He then administered the oath, which the students took with their right arms held up, repeating after Davalos.
CAP senior members and older cadets then proceeded to pin the new insignia on the cadets’ uniforms. An honor cadet received a stripe worn by Davalos when he entered the cadet program in 1978. The award was named the Curry Award, after Major General John F. Curry, who founded the Civil Air Patrol in 1941.
Walberg spoke following the pinning ceremony, expressing his appreciation for the dedication to public service the cadets were embarking on.
“It’s not just a youth program, but rather it’s a program that inspires young people like these here, who have taken first steps — and I applaud you for doing what you’ve done. What you’ve learned thus far will stand you in good stead even if that’s all you ever learn, because the teamwork, the commitment, the discipline and the desire to join an organization that is bigger than just yourself, is pretty special,” Walberg said. “But then as they go on, it’s been impressive to know that it’s not just a program that enjoys being around planes, flying and all that goes with it, but you have an impact on what takes place in law enforcement in our community, in search and rescue, in our military capabilities. All of that comes to the people — the taxpayers, the citizens of Michigan, as well as the entire United States — pretty much cost free.”
Walberg said that the first question he was asked was whether he thought there was going to be a government shutdown at the end of the week.
“I’ll let you know Thursday,” he said.
Walberg added that it has been exciting to help restore funding for the military, defense capabilities and border security in the past few years. But said that it was important also to take note of what happens with the Civil Air Patrol when deciding on what to fund.
“These cadets may at some point in time be in a plane on a search and rescue mission, adding extra punch and power to law enforcement entities going around —and yet you can do it from the air,” Walberg said. “We appreciate that. But beyond that, we also appreciate organizations that stress high quality, commitment to detail, honesty, integrity and all that goes with that. And that really adds to our country’s impact in the future and beyond.”
The CAP cadet program meets once a week, with additional activities every other weekend. Trainings away from home are also part of the cadet program.
CAP is a congressionally chartered, non-profit auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force made up of volunteers from all backgrounds who are tasked with performing search and rescue missions, disaster relief and aerospace education.
“Our primary mission for the Civil Air Patrol is to train young cadets to be future leaders,” 1st. Lt. Dwayne Deremer said. “We ensure that we’re vigilant and always ready to serve the community in the event of a disaster, missing persons or downed aircraft.”
Davalos who became commander of the squadron in July, said he aimed to grow the group to 75 members over the next two years and has embarked on a recruiting campaign. He hopes to have recruiting campaigns three times a year, with the next one being in February 2019.
“I got so much out of this program. This saved my life. I know for a fact. I was one of those statistic kids that would have been in the juvenile system for sure if it wasn’t for Civil Air Patrol,” Davalos said.
Davalos went through all 17 steps, which he said takes at least five years to accomplish, ending up with the General Carl A. Spaatz award which is achieved by half of one percent of all cadets.
“It taught me self-discipline, it taught me respect, it taught me honor, integrity, that kind of stuff,” he said. “So my job here is to provide that same environment. ... I’ve got a really good idea of what is possible here and that’s what I want to bring to them. If i could change two kids’ life a year, I’d be happy.”
This article originally appeared in the December 19 edition of the Adrian Daily Telegram.