St. Mary’s members attend final salute to former President George H. W. Bush
January 3, 2019 – WASHINGTON, DC — Three members from Civil Air Patrol’s St. Mary’s Composite Squadron, a unit in Maryland Wing, attended the lying in state and final salute to former President George H. W. Bush on December 5, 2018, at the U.S. Capitol.
Early in the morning, Maj. David Webster, 1st Lt. Steve Lang, and 2nd Lt. Stanley Konopka arrived at the U.S Capitol rotunda to pay their final respects to President Bush, the 41st president of the United States of America. As they entered the rotunda from the visitor center, the first sight that commanded their attention was the president’s casket perfectly draped with Old Glory and honor guardsman standing nearby all still as statues. You couldn’t help but noticed the abeyance in the room, the lights shined from above as Americans and people from all over the world circled around the casket paying their last respects. Close by the casket were three wreaths, representing the U.S Senate, House of Representative and Executive Office. At the base of the velvet skirting around the casket was a pair of golden U.S. naval aviator wings and two statues at the entrance were of Ronald Reagan, whom Bush served as vice president, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Joining others, the CAP members remained in the viewing area until visitors were asked to depart which allowed organizers to prepare the president’s casket for transfer to the National Cathedral. The members walked towards the visitor center exit and signed the guest register where they received a rememberance card.
To view the transfer of the president’s casket from the U.S Capitol to the cathedral, the three members waited two hours outside on the square in front of U.S Capitol rotunda. President Bush’s flag covered casket was carried down the stairs by eight military pallbearers flanked by two lines of U.S military guards for a final salute. The casket was reverently placed into the hearse and the funeral procession with family and dignitaries drove out past the White House to the National Cathedral for the memorial ceremony.
In the nearly freezing weather, after the procession passed, a reporter asked the CAP members if they were military veterans because they saluted the president. 1st Lt. Lang said, “I was 20 years active Navy and 2nd Lt. Stanley Konopka served 6 years active Air Force and reserves.” Both said they had served while George H. W. Bush was president. Lang said, “It was an honor to be here [at the U.S. Capital] to salute the former commander-in-chief, the man he worked for.” The three members felt proud to be there as members of Civil Air Patrol.
St. Mary’s Composite Squadron meets every Wednesday from 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Regional Airport in California, Md. For information on the squadron, including meeting address and contact information, visit https://md089.capunit.com. Follow the squadron on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CAPStMarys and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CAPStMarys.
Nearly 1,500 CAP members serve in Maryland. Last year wing members flew 13 search and rescue missions. The wing was credited with four finds. Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland. Members flew 2,245 hours in all mission categories. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For more information, contact the Maryland Wing at mdwg.cap.gov or follow the wing on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarylandWingCivilAirPatrol.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, 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 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s cadet programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for more information.
From left to right, Maj. David Webster, 1st Lt. Steve Lang and 2nd Lt. Stanley Konopka returning to the parking lot through Union Station after paying their last respect to former President George H. W. Bush.
The last group of visitors pay their last respects to former President George H. W. Bush lying in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Photo by © Manuel Balce Ceneta A/P news
Memorial card distributed to visitors at the U.S. Capitol to those attended final salute.
Maj. David Webster, CAP
St. Mary’s Composite Squadron