Growing up in Davis, I always felt a little out of place. I had my head in the clouds with a strong desire to fly. I naturally gravitate towards the military service; my maternal grandfather served 33 years and retired as a Naval O-6. I knew the risks, but I also believed in the rewards this country reaps for those willing to do its bidding. Davis had no support system for me. Thankfully, while on vacation to Ohio, I discovered Civil Air Patrol.
In my high school days, there were programs at Travis AFB, Mather AFB and McClellan AFB. I instantly joined the Hillcomber Composite Squadron 22 located at Travis. More than anything else in my life, joining Civil Air Patrol was pivotal to the person I would become. Instead of barely getting high enough grades to stay eligible for sports, I wanted to excel and receive an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. I took pride in the wear of my uniform and devoured all aviation information. As a cadet, I was able to receive my 5 free orientation flights and was even allowed to control the plane. I knew flying was in my future.
While I didn’t manage to pull my GPA up high enough to enter the USAFA, I did still hold my dream of flying. I stayed in CAP through college, earning my Spaatz award. (Less than 1% of the cadets ever achieve this award.) After graduation from college, my dream was realized as I proudly put on a US Army uniform and arrived at Ft. Rucker, AL for flight school. Even then, I remained in CAP helping to mentor and grow today’s youth into dynamic aerospace leaders of tomorrow.
Fast forward: 8 years of the flying helicopters in the Army and raising three children, I had pulled back from the program that had given me so much. Last April my eldest daughter, wanted to follow in my footsteps asked to join our local CAP. I had no intention of re-joining, simply driving her to the meeting. But walking in day one, everything flooded back. The drive, desire, professionalism and camaraderie that I had been missing in my life came back in full force. I instantly re-joined, happily purchased my uniform, and quickly became the Deputy Commander for Cadets.
I was born and raised in Davis (Blue Devils Class of ’89!) and settled back down here to raise my children. As a proud disabled veteran, I still do feel out of place. I love this community, but I feel that we could be more supportive of those youth who look to the military for training, college money, pride and service. We might not have a Jr. ROTC program at Davis High; however, Civil Air Patrol is alive and well out at Travis!
We are looking at expanding our cadet programs and are hosting an open house on March 2 at 6:30pm. We cordially invite anyone and everyone who has ever been interested in aviation, aerospace, search and rescue or leadership training to come attend and see what this amazing program has to offer. Please be at the Travis Visitor Center at 6:15 with ID. We will have a CAP van to shuttle folks to our squadron building. If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Air Force TSgt and CAP Senior Member Sterling Koliba at 707-386-8223.