FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — The Arizona Wing Civil Air Patrol (CAP) held their annual summer encampment at Fort Huachuca June 4-11. Ninety-six cadet students of the Civil Air Patrol (an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force) completed their training and graduated June 11.
The encampment comprised 14 Squadrons from across Arizona, with cadets ranging from 12 to 19 years old. The encampment program focuses on Aerospace education as well as instruction on the core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect.
Cadets began the week in instruction with the concepts of leadership, discipline, and the warrior spirit as well as participation in various team leadership problems that forced the cadets to work together across the wing. They spent most of their time in classroom instruction as well as learning customs and courtesies, and drill and ceremony. Cadets also spent time constructing a foam rocket/airplane to learn more about Aerospace concepts.
Cadet Lt. Colonel Alexander Diaz felt that encampment was crucial for the cadets’ future, but also for the encampment program.
"Overall, I believe this year to be one of Arizona's most successful encampments. We had many challenges to meet, and we did and used them to craft an extremely unique encampment for our Cadet Students,” Diaz said. “I believe the new opportunities, training, tours they participated in, and the relationships forged, will remain with the Cadet Students, and influence what they end up doing in life.”
Diaz said he was looking forward to seeing where the careers of both the Cadre and the Student Cadets ended up.
“I’m confident that the future of Arizona's Cadet Program is in great hands," he said.
Mid-week saw cadets able to participate in orientation flights where they flew with CAP aircraft and pilots. This allows them to take hands on control of the aircraft in an introductory education in piloting an aircraft. Cadets can take five flights during their cadet career, and this is a highly anticipated event.
As the week wrapped up, cadets participated in land navigation courses, spent time on the obstacle course, learned about unmanned aircraft systems, visited Libby Army Airfield, learned about proper firearm safety, finished building their model rockets and airplanes, and graduated with a ceremony held at Barnes Field.
Frank Flores, 1st Lt. SWR-AZ-046 commander, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, and Sierra Vista native, joined CAP because of the structure, discipline and mission, but also because he believes the CAP Cadet program is important.
“It ties communities together with volunteers, parents and allows you to participate in shaping tomorrow’s future,” Flores said. “Plus, Arizona offers some of the best weather in our nation for outdoor and aviation activities, which is part of the Aerospace/STEM program in each composite squadron in Arizona.”
Fort Huachuca first hosted the CAP Encampment in 2015 until 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions prevented the encampment on the installation.
The CAP was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, to mobilize the nation’s civilian aviation resources for national defense service. It evolved into a public service organization to carry out emergency service missions when needed, in the air and on the ground. CAP is comprised of over 58,000 members who devote their time, energy, and expertise toward the well-being of their communities while promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace/STEM education to help shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program.
2nd Lt. Mitch Smith, Assistant Deputy Commander for Cadets, Glendale 388th Composite, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, contributed to this article.