WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
For more than 72 years, Civil Air Patrol has been preparing young adults for a future in emergency services, aerospace and leadership positions. Seven years after CAP was created in 1948, the organization became America's first civilian official auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
Approximately 19,000 cadets and 34,000 adult volunteers make up CAP nation-wide. They wear the Air Force uniform, but with distinctive CAP emblems and insignia.
Civil Air Patrol units operate in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, but one master sergeant from the 509th Comptroller Squadron has invested more than 20 years with the local Sedalia Cadet Squadron (SCS).
"I joined CAP in 1992 when I was a young Airman stationed here at Whiteman," said Master Sgt. William Sander, 509th CPTS financial services superintendent.
Currently, Sander is the SCS Group 3 commander and is responsible for four units in the north-central region of Missouri. The four units are the SCS, Saline County Composite Squadron, Central Missouri Composite Squadron and Morgan County Flight.
"My unit is a group headquarters with seven adults and I also assist with the squadron's programs, as they are my home unit," Sander said. "They also have seven adult instructors, as well as 12 cadets."
Sander added that Whiteman is host to both Missouri's state headquarters and acts at the Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force liaison office.
Civil Air Patrol provides numerous leadership and training opportunities for young men and women. Each cadet engages in search and rescue team missions, receives aerospace education, and takes part in character and leadership development opportunities. Cadets also strive to be productive members of society by fostering CAP activities at the local, state and national level.
The Sedalia Cadet Squadron also assists with the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program at the Sedalia Municipal Airport, with set-up and tear down for the Scott Joplin Festival, and various activities to foster the Pettis County United Way, the squadron's benefactor, said Sander.
Cadets who join can expect a three-hour commitment per week, with a couple of additional weeks commitment in the summer.
Cynthia, 14, said she enjoys attending Civil Air Patrol and said she learns a lot each time she comes. She said her favorite part is being part of a unique group and experiencing things that many of her peers do not.
"There's no other youth organization in the United States that fosters leadership development, aerospace education, physical fitness, emergency services and community activities," Sander said. "These days it's difficult to compete with video games, sports and television."
The CAP Cadet Program is an excellent program that prepares young adults to be of service to their community, state and nation, said Sander.
Anyone interested in joining CAP can attend a unit meeting. After three meetings as a visitor, individuals may apply for membership. For more information about CAP, log on to gocivilairpatrol.com
or call 877-227-9142.