Serve Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Jensen

Civil Air Pa­trol is the best kept se­cret in Utah County when it comes to youth pro­grams. My first squadron meet­ing was star­tling. As I crossed the room, ev­ery young man and woman be­tween the age of 12 and 18 was in uni­form, gave me a firm hand shake, a di­rect look and a “Welcome, sir.” I had been “sir’ed” more in 10 min­utes than I had in 10 years. Where in the world did these kids come from? The an­swer: the Civil Air Pa­trol cadet pro­gram.

In the last four years, I have watched the 12 to 14-year-olds be­come 16 to 18-year-old cadets and the change in lead­er­ship, per­sonal skills, char­ac­ter, and per­sonal con­fi­dence is in­spir­ing.

I met one of our newer cadets, Air­man Danny Dever, while pi­lot­ing him on his first Ori­en­ta­tion flight where cadets get a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence fly­ing an air­plane. We had a great ride fly­ing over his home. Air­man Dever had a smile across his face the whole time while fly­ing the air­craft.

At a re­cent squadron meet­ing, Air­man Dever was asked to head a dis­cus­sion group on in­tegrity. In this dis­cus­sion group six cadets and two se­nior mem­bers were tasked to talk about in­tegrity as it re­lates to be­ing hon­est. I watched Air­man Dever lead that dis­cus­sion group like a sea­soned pro­fes­sional. He en­gaged the other cadets, who were all se­ri­ously ex­plor­ing the as­pects of hon­esty, greed and how to al­ways be hon­est. It was an im­pres­sive dis­play of lead­er­ship. I don’t think any of the cadets were over the age of 16.

How does the CAP cadet pro­gram cre­ate this type of lead­er­ship and char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment? Their pro­gram is based around the Air Force’s cul­ture of cus­toms and cour­tesy. CAP has a heavy fo­cus on aerospace ed­u­ca­tion in the ar­eas of science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math and sup­port it with ex­po­sure to avi­a­tion, rock­etry, phys­i­cal train­ing, ac­tual fly­ing with CAP pilots and a week-long en­camp­ment where they eat, live and breathe this cul­ture. They teach cadets skills such as march­ing, salut­ing and re­spect for lead­er­ship. If you would like your son or daugh­ter to have these types of ex­pe­ri­ences, con­tact Capt. Wayne Man­ning, the Utah County Phan­tom Squadron Com­man­der, at 801-361-2993 or Dave Bag­ga­ley at 801-889-7956.

Civil Air Pa­trol Cadets Air­men Otake, Dever and Wil­lis help pre­pare air­craft for a train­ing sor­tie.

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