Civil Air Patrol looking to launch cadet program

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 24, 2008 - Representatives from the Sulphur Springs chapter of the Civil Air Patrol have discussed starting a cadet program for junior high and high school students in the Northeast Texas area wither Sulphur Springs school board members.

Steve Hudson, commander of the local chapter, and Choya Shanahan met with school board members last week.

"The end result is helping prepare these young people to be positive, contributing citizens," Shanahan said.

CAP, which is responsible for 95 percent of inland search and rescue operations yearly across the nation, also focuses on aerospace education, emergency services and cadet programs, they noted.

The cadet program includes five elements: flag raising, aerospace education, physical education, drug education and leadership principles.

The local air patrol squadron hopes to offer cadet program to all students from sixth grade through age 21, when the cadets could convert participation to senior CAP status, according to Hudson.

While CAP cadets are eligible to receive training in the various areas at the same facility as U.S. Air Force personnel, and the program is an auxiliary of the USAF, the program is more like a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scouts program than the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, the representatives said when asked to compare the program to ROTC.

"This is more about leadership. Junior ROTC is more about recruitment," replied Shanahan, whose father husband served in the Air Force, and who has had four children go through the CAP cadet program.

"Many Eagle Scouts have participated in this," Hudson said. "We do have a plane here in Sulphur Springs, and a CAP pilot here. We hope to have the opportunity to get kids in the air and instill an aviation air program here."

Shanahan also noted that the young people have numerous training opportunities as well as chances to obtain certain certifications as CAP cadets. Normally, the cadets will have opportunities to participate in more than 60 activities through CAP cadets program.

For instance, through the aerospace program, they could attend Emory-Riddle, the nation's foremost aerospace and super pilots program, in the same classrooms as Air Force training occurs. Youths considering going into the USAF to become a pilot can try on the CAP cadet program to "see what it takes." They'll have opportunities to build rockets and learn aerodynamics and meteorology. Select juniors who opt to can participate in the Junior International Aerospace Exchange Program, traveling to another country which also participates in CAP International.

They'll also be encouraged to be good moral leaders. While the program is not faith-based, it allows for "great inclusion of faith," while encouraging character development and integrity.

Cadets can also learn about communications and radio operations, ground search and rescue.

Participation can lead to tens of thousands of dollars worth of training, and even to "full ride" college scholarships for cadets.

Cadets who are considering a military career can start out ahead of new recruits, depending on their level of commitment to the program.

"If they just enlist, instead of starting as an E1, they can go in as an E3, which it usually takes two to three years to do," Shanahan said, noting that CAP cadets upon enlistment generally earn $600 to $800 more a month than those who didn't participate in the program.

The chapter hopes to open the cadet program to all youths in Hopkins County and the area from Greenville to Mount Pleasant, and possibly even a large region.

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