1/5/2007–Washington, D.C.–Capt. Steven Solomon of Silver Spring, Md., director of public affairs for the Middle East Region of the Civil Air Patrol, was a member of the multi-service public affairs team that handled media relations at Andrews Air Force Base in central Maryland for the state funeral of President Ford. Solomon was on hand during ceremonies marking both the casket's arrival on Dec. 30 and its departure on Jan. 2.
President Ford was a friend of CAP, having been a member of CAP's Congressional Squadron, an operational search and rescue and disaster relief unit formed in 1967 for members of Congress, their staff, legislative and executive branch officials, and aviation professionals. Today the squadron has approximately 250 members, about 200 of which are members of Congress.
As part of a team of more than a dozen service members assembled by the Joint Force Headquarters/National Capital Region at Ft. McNair, Solomon augmented Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine public affairs staff in a Joint Information Bureau (JIB) that credentialed members of the media and positioned them on or near flatbed platforms in front of the VC-25 airplane called Air Force One when the President is aboard.
In addition to the entire Ford family, honorary pallbearers at the ceremonies at Andrews Air Force Base included Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill. Former President Jimmy Carter and Roslyn Carter also attended the departure ceremonies.
Solomon helped to coordinate the arrival of media bused from the base's gate to an airplane hanger near the ramp area of the aircraft, where they and their equipment were checked by the Secret Service. He also distributed the press kits prepared for the ceremonies at Andrews Air Force Base and answered questions from the Associated Press and Reuters, among others, as well as from a Washington Post reporter he escorted during the time she covered the National Day of Mourning at the base on Jan. 2.
"Everybody stepped up to the plate and made things happen," said Lt. Col. Bruce Alexander, chief of public affairs for the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, who headed the JIB." That's what it's all about."
"When I was public affairs officer for the Maryland Wing of CAP I reached out and forged a relationship with the public affairs staff at the 89th Airlift Wing and the 316th Wing. In fact, I sometimes attend their monthly combined staff meeting at Andrews," Solomon said. "I also contacted and became friendly with the public affairs director for the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW), who graciously agreed to be guest speaker at my annual PAO Seminar last November and arranged for the commanding general of the AFDW to be interviewed for the weekly CAP radio program I host. Contacts like these are what led to my even being considered to be part of such an important team for this historic event. This is just another example of collaborating with our Air Force colleagues in a way that brings credit to CAP."
Solomon watched the departure of the casket alongside the CBS News pool cameraman positioned directly in front of the ceremonies, which included ceremonial troops from all branches, the U.S. Air Force Band from Bolling Air Force Base, a special honor guard led by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a presidential gun salute by the Old Guard at Fort Myer, Va.
CAP's Andrews Composite Squadron is located at Andrews Air Force Base, commanded by Maj. Paul Cianciolo in CAP's the National Capital Wing, which is commanded by Col. Jane E. Davies.
CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 57,000 members nationwide. CAP volunteers perform 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies.
Members take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 23,000 young people currently participating in the CAP Cadet Program. CAP's cadet programs provide young men and women with a safe and motivating environment in which to grow and explore opportunities in the military and aviation industries. Cadets progress through a 16-step program of leadership and aerospace education. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 65 years.
There are approximately 1,300 members of CAP in Maryland.
For information about the Maryland Wing of CAP, visit http://mdcap.org/ or listen to weekly episodes of "Civil Air Patrol Today" broadcast every Sunday morning on the following radio stations:
In addition, programs may be listened to at the Maryland Wing web site at http://mdcap.org/radio/ and can also be subscribed to as a podcast. Maryland Wing Public Affairs also offers an e-mail alert system for news releases. When news breaks, a subscriber receives an automatic e-mail with a summary of the news release and a link back to the story on the MDWG web site. Signing up for e-mail news alerts is easy. Just go to: http://mdcap.org/?fuseaction=newsalert.form and fill in your e-mail address.