Civil Air Patrol
  • Aircrew returing to base

Civil Air Patrol’s Granite Cadet Squadron Luncheon and Awards Ceremony

Granite Cadet Squadron (Photo credit: Lt. Col. Brenda Reed and Captain Alice L. Raatjes)

May 27, 2021 – GRANITE, Maryland – Granite Cadet Squadron, a unit of Group I, Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol, celebrated its members and their accomplishments during a luncheon and awards ceremony held May 27, 2021, at Maryland Wing Headquarters in Granite, Md.

The Granite squadron is comprised solely of homeschool students. Meeting weekly, students are provided numerous opportunities to learn leadership principles, character development, work on STEM projects, participate in physical development programs and fly. Since receiving its initial official CAP Charter on February 27, 2020, Granite Cadet Squadron cadets have made tremendous strides during their first year to include achieving several individual and group awards.

Cadets, senior members, invited guests and families joined to celebrate squadron and individual member’s accomplishments. The guest speaker was Col. John Knowles, former Maryland Wing commander and former Middle East Region commander. Special guests included Lt. Col. John Strong, Group I commander, Lt. Col. John Henderson, wing vice commander, and Col. Joe Winter, former wing commander. The event included many opportunities for members, guests, and families to become more familiar with CAP’s programs, services, and professional opportunities.

In addition to camaraderie, and celebrating the squadron achievements, the occasion provided an opportunity to recognize individual cadets and seniors for their successes and commitment to CAP’s programs, mission, and goals. It was an afternoon showcasing the growth and achievements of Granite squadron members.

Lt. Col. John Strong, Group 1 commander, presented the squadron with the Quality Cadet Unit Award streamer. This award is presented to CAP squadrons who excel and meet certain criteria during the year. Criteria include adult leaders trained, aerospace excellence, cadet achievement, Drug Demand Reduction programs, encampment participation, enrollment, growth, orientation flight completion, and retention. Granite is proud to have achieved this standard in its first year.

A change-of-command ceremony was held for the position of cadet commander. Throughout the military and supporting organizations, there are hundreds of change-of-command ceremonies held every year. The primary purpose of a change of command ceremony is to allow members to witness the formal command change from one officer to another. Historically, the command is represented in the unit’s guidon or flag of colors. The passing of the command guidon from the outgoing command officer to an incoming command officer denotes the official change of command and supports the premise that the unit and its members are never without official leadership. CAP develops leadership skills in cadets by giving them real opportunities to lead. This includes planning events, making leadership decisions, and teaching and mentoring junior-ranking cadets as cadet commander and supporting staff.

Granite’s first squadron cadet commander was Cadet 1st Lt. Jacob Stigdon who served 14 months in the position. Early in 2020, Stigdon, initially a member of the Frederick Composite Squadron, Maryland Wing, volunteered to help with the formation and cadet training of the newly established Granite cadet squadron. He accepted the position of the first Granite cadet commander and excelled in leadership and his commitment to bring the squadron and its members to a successful level of achievement and growth. Stigdon, now a member of the Granite cadet squadron, presented the squadron guidon signifying a transfer of command to new cadet commander, 2d Lt. Abigail Martucci, who will serve through the upcoming year.

The awards program also included presenting CAP cadet program milestone awards.  The Cadet Program is comprised of sixteen achievements divided into four phases. The completion of each phase is marked by the awarding of a milestone award. The milestone awards mark the cadet’s transition from one phase of the cadet program into another phase where he or she will assume new leadership roles commensurate with his/her increased maturity and development as a cadet. Cadet Staff Sgt. Solace Vanzie was presented the Wright Brothers Award. This award is the first cadet milestone award representing the cadet’s transition from airman to noncommissioned officer.

The second milestone award in the cadet program was awarded to Cadet 2nd Lt. Abigail Martucci and Cadet 2nd Lt. Vincent Martucci.  Both received CAP’s General Billy Mitchell Award. The General Billy Mitchell Award has existed since 1964. This award honors the late General Billy Mitchell, an aviation pioneer, advocate, and staunch supporter of an independent air force for America. This milestone achievement is earned after completing the first eight achievements of the cadet program and gives the cadet the rank of Second Lieutenant. In addition to the achievements, the cadet must pass comprehensive exams on aerospace and leadership, in addition to a physical fitness test. Less than 15 percent of Civil Air Patrol cadets earn this award.

Several cadets were presented achievement awards for their accomplishments in CAP’s cadet program. The following cadets were presented the Charles Lindbergh Achievement, signifying their completion and promotion to Cadet Master Sergeant – Cadet Master Sgts. Sophie Clough, Tyson Clough, Nechamah Davis, Cory Matejovich, and Peyton Matejovich.

Nearly all of the squadron’s 21 cadets have participated in CAP orientation flights, either in gliders or powered aircraft. Four cadets were presented certificates recognizing the completion of their first flight: Cadet Airmen Efrayim Davis, Amarnie Edwards, Solana Rivera, and Cadet Staff Sgt. Solace Vanzie.

Continuing with the ceremony, Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Brenda Reed presented awards recognizing cadets and a senior member for their performance, dedication, and leadership excellence.

  • Cadet Master Sgt. Peyton Matejovich was presented the Granite Cadet Squadron Cadet NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) of the Year Award,
  • Cadet 2nd Lt. Abigail Martucci was presented the Granite Cadet Squadron Commander’s Leadership Award,
  • 2nd Lt. Jennifer Martucci was presented the award as the Granite Cadet Squadron Senior Member of the Year, and
  • Cadet 2nd Lt. Vincent Martucci was presented the award as the Granite Cadet Squadron Cadet of the Year.

Through an outstanding partnership with the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), CAP squadrons are permitted to nominate one cadet for the annual Air Force Sergeants Association Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award. Chief Master Sgt. Tom Reed presented this year’s award on behalf of AFSA, recognizing the importance of NCOs in the organization to Cadet Master Sgt. Nechamah Davis.

Additionally, the Air Force Association (AFA) supports CAP cadet recognition with the annual AFA Civil Air Patrol Outstanding Squadron Cadet of the Year Award which is presented to a unit CAP cadet officer. Col. Joe Winter, former Maryland Wing commander and active-duty Air Force officer, presented this year’s award, on behalf of the AFA, to Cadet 1st Lt. Jacob Stigdon.

Congratulations to all Granite squadron members for their hard work and commitment to the first chapter of our squadron’s history. Today’s cadets are tomorrow’s leaders! We have made a great start in preparing for our future.

Appreciation is extended to all who helped make this first awards’ luncheon a compliment celebration to our squadron’s achievements. There are many to whom we extend our appreciation for their support and commitment to our success including, CAP and the Maryland Wing family, our squadron members, families, and friends and a special ‘thank-you’ is extended to 2nd Lt. Latasha Vanzie and Sr. Member Stacy Edwards for coordinating this special luncheon event. Visit the Granite Squadron’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/granitecadetsquadron.civilairpatrol  for more photos and comments related to this event.

Through core values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect, CAP cadets are provided opportunities to learn and lead. These values instill confidence, earn lasting respect, and create an atmosphere conducive to achieving excellence. They are the values that anchor resolve in the most difficult situations. They are the values that support mental and physical courage in all our missions. In essence, they are the four pillars of professionalism that provide the foundation for leadership at every level within the CAP.

CAP offers homeschoolers an exciting form of character education that uses the students’ enthusiasm for aviation, space, and technology as a motivator. Middle schoolers find that the challenge of cadet life provides the structure early adolescents need. CAP provides a youth-scaled, Air Force-themed extracurricular activity that teens find fun and meaningful through a safe, positive place to develop leadership skills while exploring aviation and STEM careers. Cadets learn about the fundamentals of aviation through classroom activities, self-study texts, orientation flights, and formal flight training CAP believes that Today’s Cadets are Tomorrow’s Aerospace Leaders and provides through its cadet program incredible leadership experiences to cadets ages 12 to 21.

Granite Cadet Squadron meets at Maryland Wing Headquarters in Granite, Md., on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Prospective cadets and their families are welcome to stop by the squadron.  Visit the squadron’s website https://granite.cap.gov  for more information or email granite@mdwg.cap.gov for specific questions.

More than 1,300 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 mdwg.cap.gov or follow the wing 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 61,000 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 information.

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 Article written by Lt. Col. Brenda Reed, Commander, and Alice L. Raatjes, Captain, Public Affairs Officer, Granite Cadet Squadron, Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol.

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