The Clinton-Sampson County Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol (C-SC CSq USAF CAP) has been granted its charter, a move that will now allow the command to accept tax exempt donations.
Captain Walter H. Rodriguez, CAP, Commander, Clinton-Sampson Composite Squadron, explained what the Civil Air Patrol is in an attempt to alleviate questions the public may have regarding what it can and will do for Sampson County.
“Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. During WWII, the organization was tasked with protecting our coastlines from incursions by German submarines (U-boats). They were credited with sinking two U-boats off the coast of New Jersey near Atlantic City and provided an unparalleled force that the German submarine commanders could not even pretend to try to evade. Upon completion of the war, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was restructured into a benevolent organization with three primary missions: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs and Emergency Services. These three programs allow us to provide an awesome structured program to the youth and adults of the community with the appropriate training and insurance coverage provided by the Air Force. We are not a branch of the military in the conventional terms. We provide support to all branches of the service while opening scholarship opportunities to our cadets, providing leadership training to all our members, instilling an interest in aviation and responding to Search and Rescue and Disaster Relief needs in the community,” explained Rodriguez.
The captain stressed the cadet program is an excellent method of helping the youth of the county stay away from trouble.
“Many times I have heard conversations throughout the county where people are concerned with the influences that plague our adolescents. Yet, very seldom do I hear many viable options in guiding these kids to be the leaders of tomorrow, making sure that we, as a community, are providing the proper training and influences to make them productive members of society. This program will do just that if we can reach them at the right age…that is a promise I intend to keep,” asserted Rodriguez.
He further stated that the local unit is poised and ready to begin responding to disasters, like the tornadoes last year, or hurricanes or any other disaster one can think about, including supporting recovery from any type of terror threat. “All of our members receive professional training to fill these roles which would normally be a cost of thousands of dollars…they receive it for little to no cost depending on donations and scholarships that we can raise. This training goes directly back into the community, because we respond here first, then to the state and finally mobilize to other states when needed,” shared the captain.
The training and opportunities provided through Civil Air Patrol prove to be an invaluable asset later in life for these young men and women, he stressed.
“Our cadets learn to lead through testing in leadership, aerospace, physical fitness, moral leadership training and character development, drill and ceremonies, customs and courtesies, and promotion through a rank structure similar to the United States Air Force. Our cadets move on to amazing scholarships upon completing their Cadet Colonel rank or their Spaatz award (the most coveted award in the CAP cadet program). If they ever decide to go into the military, their experience in CAP will be invaluable. They will receive accelerated promotions and opportunities unavailable to normal recruits. As cadets, they train with the military, fly with our Senior members who are pilots, have an opportunity to receive their pilot licenses at virtually no cost to them, and participate in overseas exchange programs. Their school performance has statistically improved with continued volunteer service to CAP,” stated Rodriguez.
The commander is excited, he stressed, about the future of the Civil Air Patrol here in the county and urges others to volunteer.
“Our cadets and senior members are all volunteers, but make no mistake, we are professionals in everything we do with Civil Air Patrol; we are simply unpaid professionals. I hope you all may have the opportunity to come meet with us at the Clinton Airport on Monday nights between 6:30-9 p.m. to observe our commitment to this program and our community,”remarked Rodriguez.