Civil Air Patrol honors regional members

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2000

The Juneau Squadron of the Alaska Wing celebrated the 59th anniversary of the Civil Air Patrol on Dec. 1 with a live radio broadcast from the state capital.

The one-hour show on KINY centered on the history and heritage of the CAP, particularly the history of the Juneau Squadron, which was activated in 1948 and has been active ever since. The Squadron's designation has changed over the years to a Group HQ, with four additional squadrons under its command throughout Southeast Alaska. The most recent change took place in the late 1970s; the unit was redesigned as the Southeast Composite Squadron, Juneau, Alaska, and the cadet program was upgraded.

KINY's broadcast ended with an overview of the Southeast Composite Squadron's longtime commitment to citizens of the Panhandle in search and rescue missions. Over the years the squadron has spent many hours in the air under less than favorable conditions, and have completed countless finds and saves.

On Dec. 2, the squadron hosted an awards banquet at the Baranof Hotel. Guests of honor included the Commander of the 17th District U.S. Coast Guard and Naval Forces Commander Alaska, Admiral Thomas Barrett, Col. Mike Pannone, one of the newly appointed National Board of Governors and former Pacific Region Commander for the CAP, and Col. Steve Franklin, the CAP Alaska Wing Commander. Also honored were Bruce Bowler of the Juneau SEA Dogs search and rescue and Sgt. Ellis of the Alaska State Troopers. Captain Boyce Bingham, commander of the Southeast Composite Squadron, served as master of ceremonies.

Admiral Barrett, the commencement speaker, began his remarks by reading a Juneau Rescue Coordination Center situation report on a mission the CAP is currently assisting the USCG with in western Alaska. For the last three days, the Bethel Squadron had been transporting USCG personnel to aid in response to a large oil spill in that area. Barrett said that to accomplish this response with USCG assets alone would have been nearly cost prohibitive. Barrett also congratulated the Southeast Composite Squadron for their recent emergency transportation work with the USCG, and for their continuing role as a valuable SAR resource.

Next, Col. Pannone discussed the changing mission of the CAP and the future of CAP as the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Pannone outlined the form the new National Board of Governors for CAP will take, and what members can expect of the organization in the future.

Col. Franklin then spoke; he stressed the need for closer ties with SAR resources in the state, including the U.S. Air Force RCC, Anchorage, and the USCG RCC, Juneau, and local and state emergency service organizations such as the Alaska State Troopers. Franklin concluded by commending the Juneau Squadron for its outstanding performance over the last year; the squadron logged 589 flight hours, which equated to 17 percent of the Alaska wing's total flying hours.

Capt. Bingham concluded the evening's remarks by outlining the unit's accomplishments over the past year. He stressed the importance of rendering service to the community and the nation. Awards were then presented to unit members.

Topping the list was Maj. K. Steve Sztuk who was awarded the Charles E. Taylor award for aviation maintenance excellence by Capt. Bingham on behalf of the FAA. This prestigious award is given for 50 years in aviation maintenance, with a minimum of 30 years as a certified mechanic. Maj. Sztuk was also awarded his 45-year service ribbon, for 49 years of consecutive service to CAP, all in the Juneau Squadron, and a unit special achievement for service as the unit maintenance officer for the past year.

Jean Sztuk is a public affairs officer for the Civil Air Patrol.

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