3/15/2010–Washington, DC–It happens once a year in our nation’s capitol – 24 top cadets from around the country converge on Washington, DC, to take part in Civil Air Patrol’s national Civic Leadership Academy (CLA). The week is a whirlwind of behind the scenes tours and high level briefings that are not part of the standard tourist package. This year, Maryland had two cadets selected for this honor – more than any other Wing – and four additional members served on staff.
Cadet Majors Alice Chan of the Howard Composite Squadron and Eashan Samak of the St. Mary’s Composite Squadron were chosen from cadet applicants nationwide during an intensive selection process. Applicants must be cadet officers and provide resumes and recommendation letters along with completing an essay on a civics related topic.
In addition, Cadet Capt. Kathleen Crockett, a 2009 CLA graduate and member of the Frederick Composite Squadron, was selected to be the first returning cadet serving in a cadet staff position. Crockett provided the new cadets with tips and guidelines for getting through the highly academic program through conference calls and a welcome briefing on the first evening.
Capt. Brenda Reed of the Carroll Composite Squadron was selected to be one of four faculty advisors tasked with mentoring six of the CLA participants both before and during the event.
Lt. Col. John Knowles, Maryland Wing vice commander, has participated in various capacities since the inception of the program. This year he returned to meet with the cadets during their visit to the Capitol and Supreme Court.
On the first full day of CLA, cadets were treated to a tour of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum on the National Mall by Maryland Wing’s Col. Mary Feik, a member of the Annapolis Composite Squadron.
Feik, an aviation pioneer specializing in aviation mechanics, spent more than 3 hours with the cadets talking about the various aircraft and people immortalized in the museum, many of whom she knew personally.
Throughout the course of the week, the participants of CLA got an in-depth view of our government, learning from some of the top personnel in their respective fields.
On a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, cadets laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier followed by a briefing with the commander of the guard.
Following a briefing about the Supreme Court chambers, the cadets were delighted to have a personal visit with Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who spent an hour answering their questions and discussing court cases throughout history following a briefing by retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Suter, the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Additional briefings were held at the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Capitol. Participants met with Ms. Darcy Burner, a former CAP national cadet of the year who spoke to them about her run for Congress and the influence of political action committees.
The culmination of their studies and readings which began two months prior to the event was a visit to Capitol Hill on Civil Air Patrol’s annual Legislative Day. Samak and Chan joined other Maryland Wing cadets to visit Maryland Congressional members, including lunch with Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). CLA cadets and staff spent the day visiting Senators and Representatives from all states represented by the CLA participants, advocating for CAP priorities and telling their elected officials about the Civil Air Patrol and what it means to them.
Lt. Col. Wes LaPre of Group 3 and Maj. Justin Holloway of the Upper Montgomery County Composite Squadron assisted as escorts for CLA cadets as they visited the House and Senate Office buildings.
Over the years, Maryland Wing has been fortunate to have several cadets selected to participant in this prestigious national activity. These cadets come away from the activity energized about their experience and state it to be the best national CAP activity they have attended.
Cadets interested in attending the 2011 Civic Leadership Academy should be on the lookout for the application process, which is usually in the fall.
For additional photos of the activity, visit http://2010cla.wordpress.com/. CAP's national website featured this activity in an article that can found at http://www.capvolunteernow.com/todays_features.cfm/top_cap_cadets_converge_in_nations_capital?show=news&newsID=6867
The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 72 lives in fiscal year 2009. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 23,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years.
There are more than 1,400 members of CAP in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information about the CAP, visit www.mdcap.org.