Young people from the Abingtons with the Civil Air Patrol recently returned from cadet training at Fort Indiantown Gap. The teens are part of Civil Air Patrol’s Scranton Composite Squadron based in Jessup.
The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a nationwide organization of citizens dedicated to public service who are equipped to carry out emergency service missions when needed in the air and on the ground. The CAP is an auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF) and has the largest fleet of Cessna aircraft in the world with almost 900 airplanes in the continental U.S.
It’s 60,000 nationwide members are volunteers. They are trained to search and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster, and work to keep communities safe. They promote aviation and related fields through aerospace and STEM education, and shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program.
Lt. Barbara Pope is an educator and public affairs officer for the Scranton Squadron and the external affairs officer for Pennsylvania.
“The Civil Air Patrol does what the United States Airforce is too busy to do as they protect our country,” Pope said. “We support them by getting up in the air and putting eyes on disaster situations. When there were ice jams on the river, photos were done by Civil Air Patrol. We scan the area and photographers in Civil Air Patrol take the aerial shots that are sent back to FEMA. We were the first ones up a year ago when the tornado hit Wilkes-Barre.”
The CAP was the first to fly over the city of New York after the 9/11 attacks. They were able to get much needed aerial shots of the damage and be eyes in the sky for government agencies.
“We are not active duty military,” Major Glenn Carman said. “But we do a lot of things for the Airforce that save them time and money. We conduct over 90% of inland search and rescue for the USAF.”
Major Carman is the director of the aerospace program for Pennsylvania and works with the Scranton Squadron which was named squadron of the year in December, 2018.
The Scranton Composite Squadron, Squadron 201, is one of 46 squadrons in Pennsylvania. Cadets take leadership exams, drill tests and formation and train in the color guard. The Scranton Squadron has presented the colors at PNC field. If cadets (ages 12–18) pass exams successfully and are active members, they can promote and move up in rank similar to active duty military.
“The higher in rank cadets get, the more responsibility they get,” Carman said. “Early on they can become mentors to younger cadets. Right now we have some very sharp cadets in the program.”
“Logan Treat, one of our cadets, just lead a presentation on a tesla coil,” Pope said. “He came out of his shell and stood there in front of his peers as a middle school student and did well. ... We have other cadets like Zachary Rusnak, Adam Vail and Burke Colombo who are very patient and good mentors to younger cadets. It is a cadet-run program.”
Adam Vail of South Abington Township achieved a rank of Tech Sergeant. He recently returned from annual training at Ft. Indiantown Gap.
“It was a good experience,” Vail said. “It helped us build teamwork and leadership skills. We were able to get in some helicopters and that was cool.”
C/AMN Logan Treat of Lake Winola and C/AMN Sophia Kazmierczak of Dalton along with C/TSGT Vail and five other cadets also attended annual training at Ft. Indiantown Gap.
“I learned a lot,” Kazmierczak said. “They teach us self-discipline and leadership.”
Treat shared that they also learned teamwork and he enjoyed making new friends.
“We are not here to promote any one branch of the military or recruit for the USAF but we do offer career preparedness, teach leadership, and help cadets gain confidence and make career choices. It gives a better path and direction for teens who may not know what direction they want to take,” Pope said. “Our STEM academy trains cadets in robotics and STEM training helps in any occupation. The things our cadets are learning will help them not only in an aviation career but in any occupation.”
CAP cadets who stick with the program can enter into the USAF at a full pay grade higher than new recruits. They also benefit from training and opportunities in the CAP. There are national cadet activities including space camp, para rescue training and drone training. Cadets were excited about meeting with the A-10 demonstration team of the Air National Guard from Delaware this week.
“Young cadets come to us and aren’t sure what they are interested in,” Carman said. “While they go through the program we see them find their passion and it lights a fire under them. ... Young people who join the Civil Air Patrol have many opportunities, but you can only take them so far. No one can do it for them. They get as much out of it as they put into it. There is an awful lot to get out of it but they have to go after it.”
To learn more about the Civil Air Patrol, visit gocivilairpatrol.com.