Civil Air Patrol Cadet Lt Col Jon Ball’s career as a CAP cadet officially came to an end on March 14, 2014, when he turned 21 years old, and, on March 22, 2014, at the local Civil Air Patrol Awards Dinner, Cadet Lt Col Jon Ball received his final awards as a CAP cadet. It was indeed a very rewarding evening for this outstanding young man as he received three distinguished cadet awards as well as a promotion to the senior member grade of First Lieutenant.
Local CAP Commander, Lt Col Virgil Martin, was assisted by former West Virginia Wing Commander, Col Bobby Anderson, in presenting Ball with his first stripes as a Civil Air Patrol Senior Member. Col Anderson, guest speaker for the evening, began his career in CAP as a cadet in 1943 and advised the cadets to give their best and remain dedicated to the program in order to reap the benefits it has to offer. Anderson addressed the parents and cadets prior to the award presentations.
Coming as a complete surprise to Cadet Jon Ball, was an elite award originated by the local squadron in 1992. Presented only in 1992, and once again in 1995, the Semper Vigilans (Always Vigilant) award is given only to Boone CAP cadets who excel in service and performance at all levels of Civil Air Patrol for many years, maintaining their dedication and commitment throughout their early cadet years and into adulthood. Cadet Ball has been recognized as an outstanding cadet at the local, Wing, Region and National levels of CAP and has maintained his leadership and service even while attending college as an engineering student. He has now committed to continuing his leadership and service as a senior member.
Presenting Cadet Ball with another distinguished award was the West Virginia State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bill Lambert. Accompanying Commander Lambert was WV VFW Quartermaster, Kevin Light, and Local Post #5578 Commander, Glen Alkire. Commander Alkire read the WV VFW Citation for Civil Air Patrol’s Outstanding Cadet Officer for 2013, while Commander Lambert pinned on the medal and presented Ball with the certificate for this competitive award, given each year to one CAP cadet officer in West Virginia. Commander Lambert is a Boone County native, having attended Danville Elementary School and graduated from Scott High School. He expressed his great admiration for all of the local cadets and commended them highly for their success in Civil Air Patrol.
For the fourth time in his 5 ½ years as a CAP cadet, Ball was awarded the local squadron’s Cadet of the Year plaque for 2013, as he received the highest cumulative score for emergency services, uniform inspection, physical fitness, aerospace education and squadron activities during 2013. The Squadron Cadet of the Year Award comes shortly after he was also recognized as the WV Wing Cadet of the Year for 2013 at the Wing’s annual Awards Banquet this past October.
Additional awards were given to other excelling cadets in the local squadron. Due to an extremely tight race for Cadet of the Year at the local level, a rare Runner-Up Cadet of the Year award was presented for 2013. This special recognition went to Cadet Staff Sergeant Larry Copen, who has been a member of the unit for two years and will now fill the position of Cadet Commander as Cadet Ball has moved on to senior member status.
The first-place individual award for physical fitness was earned by Cadet Airman Caleb Turner, while Cadet Staff Sergeant Larry Copen took top honors in the uniform inspection category. Additional awards were as follows: Dalton Wilson and Larry Copen tied for second place in emergency services; Dalton Wilson and Jon Ball tied for second place in physical fitness; Jon Ball took second place in uniform inspection and Larry Copen took second place in aerospace education.
In addition to cadet awards and promotions, senior members who progress in the program and perform in outstanding manner are also honored. Receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from the local unit Commander was 2d Lt Chuck Shultz, who volunteered to assume the leadership role in three important activities in 2013 when the Commander was unable to be present. Shultz oversaw squadron activities at the Coal Festival, the Children’s Flag Day Ceremony and the Boone County Fair, even giving up some of his personal vacation time to supervise the cadets during the Fair.
Advancement in rank is a big honor for senior members and this year marked the promotion of one of the newest adult members of the squadron. SM Lisa Clark was promoted to the grade of 2d Lt in recognition of her completion Level One of the CAP senior training program. Clark will likely assume the duties of Supply Officer, replacing 2d Lt Shultz who has held that position for more than three years.
The squadron is growing in membership, gaining 6 new cadets in the past year: Randi Buckner, Caleb Turner, Taylor Turner, Jordan Turner, Jaydon Pauley and Jarod Puckett. Additionally, senior member Blitz Turner joined the program in December 2013 and is completing Level One training.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 54 lives in fiscal year 2011.
Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 70 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans.
Visit www.wvboonecap.com, www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.