As most of you know by now, April was a very busy month. Maryland Wing cadets won the color guard competition and will be representing the Middle East Region at the National Cadet Competition this summer. At the same regional competition, all three speech categories were won by Maryland Wing cadets, giving us a clean sweep at the Speak Off.
Seven ground teams participated in the search for 17-year-old Philicia Barnes. An article on this search can be found on the Md. Wing website. All the teams did a great job! I received a phone call from the Baltimore Sun asking for comments after Ms. Barnes’ body was found two weeks following our search in the Susquehanna River. The reporter was not very familiar with the Civil Air Patrol so a good part of the time was spent getting her up to speed on our missions.
She asked me for a comment about the efforts we put forth and the sad outcome of the search. I told her that whenever we are on a mission searching for a missing person or aircraft, we are always hopeful that just over the next hill we will find the person unharmed but even when the person does not survive that bringing closure to their family is an important part of what we do. She asked, if requested, would we have turned out for another day of searching? My response was that we are trained and ready to go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
By the time you read this we will be in the middle of our Compliance Inspection (CI). A CI is done every four years by Air Force and CAP personnel to ensure that we are following all our regulations and that we are capable of performing all the missions tasked to us. Thousands of man-hours have gone into the preparation for this event. We had to have all the written documentation sent in electronic format to the inspectors two weeks before the CI. Thanks to the best wing staff in the nation, we accomplished this a day ahead of schedule. Maj. Joe Winter served as our project officer for the CI and, along with Maj. Brenda Reed, read through every page and provided last minute edits during the proof reading for each staff section.
Now to the real message this month. As I was driving into work this morning, I had lots of things running through my mind: issues waiting for me at the office, last minute details for the CI, fond memories of a holiday weekend where I got to spend time with all my children home from college and, well, the list goes on and on. What I also realized was that today is the 25th and I had not written my commentary. It has been such a busy month that time just got away from me. I try and have this written up by the middle of the month and then I send it to several of our public affairs (PA) professionals for edit and review. I missed my deadline, a self imposed one, and by doing that I will be putting a burden on the PA folks to help me catch up.
In CAP, we have monthly, quarterly, biannual, and annual reports to do. We have required training for missions and for safety. We have subordinate unit inspections and wing compliance inspections. If you want to get reimbursed for missions you have to submit the paperwork in a timely manner or you miss the window of 45 days and you just made a tax deductable contribution.
What all of these have in common, along with my late submission, is you missing your deadline affects everyone else down the line, often times making more work for them. Do you think that your Group Commanders want to have to call and email you about missing paperwork? Do you think the wing transportation officer wants to monitor the submission of the monthly vehicle reports to ensure we have 100% compliance and to call the same late squadrons every month? I think the answer is no, they have better things to do then to be a pest.
One indication of a professional is they are on time. They arrive at meetings on time, planning for the inevitable traffic jam or slow moving car. They set reminders each month to ensure their monthly reports are submitted in time for the next person to do their job. They may not agree with every report or every deadline but they do everything in their power to get them done before they are due.
The cadets all arrived on time and prepared for the cadet competition and their hard work showed. The ground teams arrived at the incident command post on time, trained, fully equipped and ready to go. Their efforts provided the find of a missing person, not the one we were looking for but a person who had loved ones who cared about them and needed closure. The staff’s completion of the required paperwork for the CI has readied them to meet with the inspectors prepared and to be ready to demonstrate that Maryland in the best Wing in the Civil Air Patrol.
When you are making that drive in to work and you are prioritizing all the things on your “to-do” list please include your CAP duties on that list so we can continue to be the best unpaid professionals in the nation.
Thank you for all that you do.
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Commander, Maryland Wing