12/20/2016–Washington, DC–On December 12, 2016, Civil Air Patrol National Commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Vazquez participated in the annual wreath laying ceremony at the U.S. Capitol sponsored by the Maine State Society of Washington, DC, commemorating military veterans and members who lost their lives in service to this country. The wreath is traditionally placed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, but due to preparations for the presidential inauguration, the ceremony took place in Upper Senate Park located across the street from the Capitol.
At noon, Mr. Joel Levesque, president of the Maine State Society of Washington, DC, opened the ceremony with welcoming remarks, followed by Mr. David Webber representing the Funeral Directors Association. Vazquez told the audience, "As the auxiliary of the United States Air Force, the 57,000 volunteer Airmen of CAP have long supported our nation's military, both in times of war and peace. Our participation in Wreaths Across America highlights CAP's commitment to honor our military veterans, both here at Arlington and in dozens of national cemeteries throughout the country."
Maryland Wing cadets served as color guard and honor guard during the ceremony.
Mr. Michael Wakefield, Legislative Counsel to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), spoke on behalf of the senator. After the ceremony, Wakefield told Vazquez that he was a CAP cadet while attending high school in Roanoke, Virginia, in 2003. Vazquez remarked, "I was Virginia Wing commander at the same time."
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.