What's your favorite CAP experience ever?

Started by yolo, January 10, 2022, 10:24:16 PM

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For just plain fun, I would say spending a week in Syracuse flying the Reaper Chase missions.

For a different kind of fun, seeing the joy and happiness of Cadets I give O'Rides to is a feeling hard to match.

Currently, as a CFI, it was seeing a Cadet I'm instructing, fly his first solo, and cutting his shirt tail. :)
"Don't try to explain it, just bow your head
Breathe in, breathe out, move on ..."


WIWAC, for most of a summer, I 'deployed' to CAP mission base for CAP's response to the midwest floods in 1993.  Sandbags, Comms, Flight Line, A/C Maintenance assist, What we now call "mission staff assistant", general duties.



Quote from: coudano on January 11, 2022, 04:32:03 AMWIWAC, for most of a summer, I 'deployed' to CAP mission base for CAP's response to the midwest floods in 1993.  Sandbags, Comms, Flight Line, A/C Maintenance assist, What we now call "mission staff assistant", general duties.


Unbelievable.  I was reading down the list and was going to type mine, then read yours. My favorite experience since I joined as a cadet in the early 80s was my very first squadron command, St. Louis Comp. Sqdn, when we activated for the 1993 floods. We were activated for about four months, sand bagging, running shifts in the EOC in St. Charles, flying sorties out of Wentzville since all 7 metro GA airports were flooded out, and helping the seven thousand homeless families in the area.  I am pretty sure you and I crossed paths that spring/summer, which was the most meaningful in my CAP life.

Cheers Teammate,

Edit: second favorite would be finding a missing boy alive in 97 after an all night search and seeing his parents faces when we brought him out to them. Don't think we ever put ourselves in for anything, the faces were enough.


Honestly, I think I've hit a point where I can't hone in on one specific experience. I've gotten to do some cool stuff that I never would have been able to do: C-130 flight, C-17 flight, getting to hang out with the Thunderbirds for a day...

But, honestly, I've had the privilege of helping to organize a lot of events that were similar moments for them but on a totally different level. For me, a lot of those events involved me still being in a planning or oversight role, and I'm scrambling around trying to make sure the event is still going smooth. I'm part of the experience, but it's not really for me as the target audience. I'm staff. It's like being the bouncer at a rock concert. Sure, I get to see the band, but I'm working.

The best part, really, is watching everyone else experience it all...the giant smiles, experiencing their first airplane ride or getting to meet their "hero;" getting to do something that they would never have the chance to do maybe ever again. It's awesome.

CAP, for me, isn't a single moment. It's a long road of planning, stress, chaos, and then that final instance where it all fit together perfectly in the end (or at least nobody else knew any different), and it was just an amazing opportunity for the audience, particularly cadets because that's where I've spent my entire time in CAP and remains my focus today.

I love watching that transition over the course of years to see how far someone has come, and them reflecting back on the things that they got to do as a cadet. I don't have "WIWAC" since I was never a cadet. Maybe what I got to do as a senior member is comparable. But I get to watch today's cadets build their later-in-life WIWAC stories, I guess.

Let's not forget that there are these little moments where we just have fun an event. There's probably not enough context to share with anyone else who wasn't there in that instance. There's probably a few things not necessarily appropriate for a public forum. But I have those, and they're still hilarious.

In the end, I work with some fantastic people. I've made some amazing friends. It's all my favorite.

Capt Thompson

A few hours north of us, the National Guard has a gunnery/bombing range that several states utilize for target practice. Once a year they have an open house, and we were asked to do crowd control. Every 15 mins or so, they would announce over the PA what Squadron was inbound, from what state and what they were flying, and then a few mins later you'd have a group of F-16's, A-10's etc fly in, strafe a few targets (old tanks and jeeps strewn across the field), some dropped bombs (inert), a few fired off missiles at targets at the other end of the field far from the spectators. That was the first time I saw an A-10 unleash it's gatling gun at close range.
Capt Matt Thompson
Deputy Commander for Cadets, Historian, Public Affairs Officer

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 1 OCT 00 (#11401)


Since 1994, there are a few.

Taking command of a squadron.

9/11 as NJ Wing ES Director.

GSAR Schools as a student and as a commander.

Working as a member of a reserve joint SOF training task force.

Saving a couple of lives.

The Cadets and friends that became family.

Yeah, a few....
Strup-"Belligerent....at times...."
NSS ISC 05-00
US NWC 2016


My best CAP memories are ones that led to lifelong friendships. I met the sister of a fellow cadet & now she has been my wife of many years.

I have mentioned this in earlier posts but in the 1970's, my pals and I were, in our minds, CAP cadets all the time, not just Tuesday evening from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM.  Because we were cadets, we felt very special, maybe even superior to other kids. The rules were different then - cadets had only minimal senior supervision and we did a bunch of stuff which is most likely why there are more rules today!

I had a "break in service" and came back to CAP as an adult in my early 40's. Because my 1970's cadet experience was so powerful, I had a very difficult time adjusting to the role of a senior member and to the evolution of regulations.  My frame of reference was that of a self-important teenager of some 25 years earlier.  I am one of "those guys" who has a difficult time unlearning or adapting to change!  I still have to convert airspace to the "new system" (TCA's, airport traffic areas etc. to Class A, B, C airspace, etc.)!

Looks like I am hijacking the post: my cadet experience was wonderful and as I sit here and write, I have a smile on my face.

Holding Pattern

Babysitting my squadron's first state mission number request this century for support up the chain of command and walking the requesting agency through the process.

Then getting another mission request after they knew we existed.

Proving we existed and could be called was something I was told for a half-decade couldn't be done and I did it in spite of the Department of No was my favorite part of being in CAP.


Probably encampment when I was a cadet.  Active duty Air Force Base (Grand Forks, ND).  O flights on a KC-135 and a UH-1, plus tours of the whole base (except the obvious restricted areas).  Learned a lot, made some awesome friends I kept in touch with for many years after.
Lt Col Dan Kirwan, CAP
Nebraska Wing

Майор Хаткевич

I owe CAP a lot of what I learned about Integrity and Leadership. 

I owe most of my professional success to what I learned as a cadet and Senior. 

But with all those experiences, my favorite would be the time I stood up for the right thing, and effectively ended my 15 year relationship with the organization I loved.


1974 Encampment when I was a cadet.  Also on an active duty Air Force Base.  I would count both years, first when I wore two stripes (still actually on the sleeve in those days) and the second time when I went as a 1LT.  No senior experience has come anywhere close to that.


Encampment as cadet when AD SPs took all the cadets hostage as part of a terrorism drill.  Woke up with gun in my face.  Some cadets fled down the flightline and were detained by SPs that knew nothing of the drill and were a little sensitive as there were nuclear missiles around. 


Cadet in 1989: I had been a cadet for a little over two years when me and a few others managed to spend a 3-day weekend in the field with the Florida National Guard's 20th Special Forces Group during their training weekend in the Ocala National Forest.  Carried M16's the whole time, rode in deuce and a halfs, ate MREs, rappelled, and watched them jump. Just hanging with them was like a glimpse into adulthood and real life. I still have pictures and am friends with a couple of those cadets.

Senior 1999-2003: For five winters in National Capital Wing, I organized a winter ES exercise called WINTEX. It would be three days, two nights, and only the seasoned cadets who were qualified GTMs could participate. For seniors, it was usually just about four or five of us, all former cadets and current/former military. It got so popular that in 2003 members from MDWG and NJWG joined us. It was as cool as it gets, and the cadets from those years turned out pretty good. One is a PJ, one is a Special Forces Officer, a few others are academy grads and other great officers or enlisted; Firefighters and paramedics.

Serving since 1987.

Shawn Stanford

I'm going to go with the time [redacted] during an air show at which my squadron was working.
"Where in my job description is the word 'nice'?"


Night over water... 80NM offshore, in and out of clouds, no stars above, no lights below, just us and some F-22s.
Believe in fate, but lean forward where fate can see you.


This is a great question - please share some more thoughts!


Quote from: coudano on January 11, 2022, 04:32:03 AMWIWAC, for most of a summer, I 'deployed' to CAP mission base for CAP's response to the midwest floods in 1993.  Sandbags, Comms, Flight Line, A/C Maintenance assist, What we now call "mission staff assistant", general duties.


Former Missouri Cadet?


Quote from: AirDX on February 01, 2022, 11:39:37 PMNight over water... 80NM offshore, in and out of clouds, no stars above, no lights below, just us and some F-22s.

Presumably not in a single-engine piston?!


IACE '84 - West Germany. Teaming up with a Canadian and British cadet to spray "IACE '84" on the Berlin Wall.