Most of us that have been around the Civil Air Patrol for a few years are familiar with the phrase “CAP is the Air Force’s best kept secret” or something similar. Our public affairs professionals are working hard every day to make this a thing of the past, but they need your help. If you are doing a presentation take some pictures. If you are having an awards ceremony, take some pictures. If you are performing some sort of community service take some pictures… if you have not figured it our yet we need your help in getting the “word” out. The funny thing is I keep asking you to take pictures not write articles. While we would love your help with the writing we can do that but we can’t be everywhere to snap a couple of shots. We all know a picture is worth a thousand words.
Another phase that is often heard around the hanger is “unsung hero”. You could argue that this could refer to all our members, today I want to actually take the opportunity to recognize a small group of folks in Maryland Wing that many of our members don’t know much about or for those that know them they don’t recognize the significant role they play and the hard work and sacrifices that they have made to get them on the “list”. I am talking about the Maryland Wing members that serve on call as incident commanders 24/7/365 days a year.
Every week you see a list sent out by our wing administrator that shows the top three. These are the IC’s that are on call that week who sleep with the cell phone by the bed waiting for the call or text message to come through which alerts us for a mission.). This could be a call for a distress beacon, or a lost person, or a hurricane or tornado. These members are some of our most experienced emergency service qualified experts ready to lead the mission at a moment’s notice. Some come from the air crew side and some come from the ground team side, but all of them have worked their way up the incident command system serving as an aircrew or ground team member, an air operations branch director or ground branch director, an operations section chief and a planning section chief and finally an incident commander. A person we trust with running a mission in Maryland Wing. All of them have extensive backgrounds in air or ground operations but now they serve at an incident command post coordinating all the people and assets to work the mission. These are truly some of the unsung heroes of CAP.
One of the longest serving IC’s in the wing was Lt. Col. Bob Ayres. He joined CAP almost 40 years ago and served as an IC, a mission pilot, and several other emergency services specialties as well as maintenance officer for Maryland Wing’s fleet of aircraft. Bob passed away suddenly two weeks ago. He was an accomplished scientist working for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and after his retirement he began a second career as a flight instructor and teacher of cadets. He was one of the founding fathers of the Maryland Solo School and, in honor of his memory, we are renaming the school the Lt. Col. Robert Ayres Solo School.
I ask that you take a moment to pause and reflect on his service and contributions, as its members like Lt. Col. Ayres that have paved the way for us, the current members to serve our community, state and nation.
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Commander, Maryland Wing