Serving the Valley Through the Civil Air Patrol

Recent ceremony highlights continued excellence of local Civil Air Patrol squad

By Dillon Tabish

Inside the National Guard Armory north of Kalispell, a time-honored tradition took place recently involving the latest class of cadets enrolled in the local Civil Air Patrol squadron.

The ceremony involved cadet promotions as well as a change in command for the cadet commander, from Christopher Rodwick to Katheryn Turk.

“I firmly believe in this room right now we have future leaders for this country,” Rodwick told the room of young cadets and other members of the Civil Air Patrol.

“Our community needs you. Our nation needs you.”

The Civil Air Patrol has a proud history in the U.S. dating back to the 1930s, when a collective of volunteers formed a nonprofit organization that would serve as a federally chartered auxiliary of the Air Force. The organization performs aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services across the country. In Montana, the Civil Air Patrol was established in December 1941. Cadets began training in the Flathead Valley around the same time, and ever since the organization has performed vital tasks, such as search and rescue operations, wildland fire fighting, humanitarian services and natural disaster response.

Local squadrons hold weekly meetings with senior members, and during these gatherings the younger cadets are training in leadership, physical fitness, and more, with the overall goal to “build character and inspire youth leadership through an interest in aviation,” according to the organization’s manual.

“We bring kids into a positive atmosphere and teach them customs and courtesy,” said Bob Schneller, squadron commander for the local Civil Air Patrol. “We help them develop critical skills and teach them how to lead.”

The valley’s Civil Air Patrol squadron has won the “Squadron of Merit” honor for the state the last two years, recognizing the high quality of the local unit and its cadets. Last year the squadron also received the state’s Achievement Award for outstanding duty performance.

The squadron meets on Thursday nights and is always recruiting new cadets. For more information visit http://www.flatheadcompositesqdn.com.