Civil Air Patrol
  • Aircrew returing to base

Cryptologic museum hosts Civil Air Patrol cadets

December 28, 2019 — FORT MEADE, Md. —  Civil Air Patrol cadets toured the National Cryptologic Museum Dec. 27 and learned about cryptology’s impact on history, and about potential careers in the field.

Ten cadets, members of Maryland Wing’s Harford Composite Squadron from Aberdeen Proving Ground, saw a portion of the museum’s collection, which contains thousands of artifacts, including numerous working World War II German Enigma machines.

“I enjoyed attending this trip to the Cryptology Museum at Fort Meade,” said Cadet Airman Josh Kovacsics. “As a group, we learned about the importance of cryptology in the world wars and how they were used. I really enjoyed the interesting and ingenious ways that people had sent encrypted and hidden messages. It was a very interesting and fun experience.”

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, has a cadet program, a search and rescue mission and an aerospace education program. CAP has been patrolling the nation’s coastal borders since its inception, but in today’s high-tech world, cadets also learn how to protect cyberspace with a program called, CyberPatriot.

Squadron leadership timed the visit to coincide with the National CyberPatriot Competition, in which the Harford Composite Squadron is rising into the semi-finals.

“It made this educational field trip to the museum all the more important for the cadets,” said Maj. Sam Thomas, squadron commander.

The National Youth Cyber Education Program, sponsored by the Air Force Association, has the goal to educate the next generation of patriotic cyber defenders of the nation’s security and infrastructure.

During the visit to the museum, the cadets learned about the equipment used to encrypt, decrypt and secure information.

The museum features exhibits on the people who contributed to cryptography in America, such as George Washington, who integrated military intelligence tactics, including coded messaging, into the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, the Native American code talkers, who protected U.S. communications during both World Wars by using their native languages to encode message traffic, and the Navy WAVES, who decrypted German military traffic during World War II.

The museum chronicles the American history of cryptology that is affiliated with the National Security Agency. It is the first public museum in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

“We really want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Heckman for setting us up with this opportunity,” said 2nd Lt. Olivia V. Higgins, deputy commander for cadets.

The Harford Composite Squadron features both adult and youth programs. The unit meets Mondays from 7-9 p.m. at the Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Center, Building 4508, 6483 Wayberry Road.

Do you have a passion for aviation, dream of flight, or are considering a career in the military? Do you want to serve your community and enhance your leadership skills? Join us. Youths, ages 12 to 18, as well as parents and adults interested in the cadet and/or senior program are welcome to visit meetings and talk with the staff. Follow the squadron on Facebook.

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 82 lives annually. CAP’s 66,000 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 28,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for information.

More than 1,500 members serve in Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing. Last year, wing members flew 13 actual search and rescue missions. Overall, the Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland, flying 2,245 hours in all mission categories, and was credited with four finds. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For information, contact the Maryland Wing at or follow the wing on Facebook.


2nd Lt. David McNally, CAP
Public Affairs Officer
Harford Composite Squadron

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