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CAP Cadets help First District veterans share stories for history project

posted Aug 10, 2017, 12:51 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Aug 10, 2017, 12:54 PM ]

The Civil Air Patrol cadets mentioned in this story are from Renton and Overlake Composite Squadrons. Thank you to everyone who was involved with this effort!

Note: Congresswoman DelBene is also a member of our Congressional Squadron.

If you would like more information on how to get your unit involved in the Veterans History Project, please follow this link:


Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01) (left) and U.S. Navy veteran Ben Studley present World War II veteran Ann Bjorneby with an American flag and special certificate of recognition to thank her for her service. Samantha Pak, Kirkland Reporter

  • Wed Aug 9th, 2017 3:20pm

    Source || Kirkland Reporter

    When Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941 and brought the United States into World War II, Ann Bjorneby and a couple of her girlfriends wanted to do their part to help with the war effort.

    But living in the small town of North Buena Vista, Iowa meant no real opportunities to contribute. So the group put the names of three big cities — St. Louis, Detroit and Omaha, Neb. — into a hat and took turns drawing the city names. Two of them drew Omaha.

    “That meant we were going to Omaha,” Bjorneby said.

    Once in Omaha, she studied to be a mechanic and began working at a U.S. Army plant.

    “I became a grease monkey,” she said.

    Later, she served in the U.S. Navy Reserve. She moved to Seattle with her Norwegian boyfriend-turned husband, who had served in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and said they could only get married if they moved to the Pacific Northwest. The couple moved to Ballard in 1946.

    “I think it was raining,” Bjorneby, who volunteered at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard till she was 80 and currently volunteers at the Snohomish Senior Center five days a week, said about her first impression of the city.

    The 94-year-old World War II veteran and Everett resident shared her story Tuesday morning with a group of fellow veterans at Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland.

    They were there to be interviewed and have their stories submitted to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. According to its website, the project was created in 2000 and “collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”

    The reception and interviewing event was hosted by Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), who personally interviewed Bjorneby for the project.

    In addition to DelBene, members of the local Civil Air Patrol conducted video and audio interviews of the veterans who showed up Tuesday morning.

    DelBene said her office got involved in the project because they wanted to make sure it included stories from this region. And while she represents Washington’s First Congressional District, she said people from the general area have responded to her office’s call for veterans to participate.

    It doesn’t matter where they live, DelBene said. All that matters is that their stories are shared.

    “As a nation, we have a duty to ensure the painful sacrifices made to protect our families and freedoms are never forgotten,” DelBene said in a press release. “I’m honored to team up with the Library of Congress to help preserve the stories of First District veterans for the Veterans History Project.”

    She added that these interviews are happening across the country and that it is well worth a trip to Washington D.C. to go listen and learn about veterans’ stories.

    There is no deadline for submissions and those who would like to participate in the Veterans History Project can contact DelBene’s office at (425) 485-0085.

    Bjorneby said it is important to preserve her story and others’ because so much happened so many years ago during the various conflicts the United States has been involved in, but there are many people in the country who were not alive during those times.

    “After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my friends and I wanted to do something for the war effort,” Bjorneby said in the release. “It was such a difficult time for our country but there was a tremendous sense of community. I want to ensure future generations know about that part of our nation’s history and remember we can come together to prevail against adversity.”

    Bjorneby said it is important to defend one’s country and to be loyal to one’s country.

    She lives by the motto, “Love God, love your country and be the best you can be every day.”

    It was this motto that led Bjorneby to quit her job in North Buena Vista — instead of taking just a leave of absence — and travel to Omaha at the age of 18, with only $15. She said she knew she would not be able to do her best unless she quit her job.

    On Tuesday, DelBene and Ben Studley, a U.S. Navy veteran and veteran case worker and field representative in her office, presented Bjorneby with an American flag and special certificate of recognition to thank her for her service.

    Upon receiving the honors, Bjorneby said she flies the flag for her late husband every day but she has never thought about a flag for herself.

    Members of the Civil Air Patrol interview a veteran from Seattle about his experiences serving. Samantha Pak, Kirkland Reporter

    The honorable discharge certificate for Ann Bjorneby, whose maiden name is Kloser, from the U.S. Navy. Samantha Pak, Kirkland Reporter

    A newspaper clipping of Ann Bjorneby reuniting with her brother John Kloser upon his return from serving in the Korean War. Samantha Pak, Kirkland Reporter

    Great Lake Region's Phelka Named Next Natl. Vice Commander

    posted Aug 8, 2017, 2:22 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Aug 8, 2017, 2:39 PM ]

    Veteran Pilot's CAP Career Also Includes Colo. Wing Command, Mich. Wing Leadership Posts

    Civil Air Patrol’s next national commander, Maj. Gen.-Select Mark Smith, has chosen Great Lakes Region Commander Col. Edward Phelka as his national vice commander. The announcement was made today after Phelka was approved by the organization’s Board of Governors.

    “Col. Phelka’s commitment and devotion to Civil Air Patrol over the past 30 years is exemplary,” said Smith, who selected Phelka over 10 other candidates for the national post. “He is field-tested and fully prepared to help lead this organization forward.”

    Phelka will join Smith on Sept. 2 for a change of command ceremony with Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, the current national commander, at Civil Air Patrol’s 2017 National Conference in San Antonio.

    As national vice commander, Phelka is charged with helping lead CAP’s 57,000 volunteers in fulfilling the organization’s congressionally chartered missions — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. The national vice commander is a member of the CAP Command Council, which consists of the organization’s national commander, eight region commanders and 52 wing commanders, along with the national executive officer, CAP’s chief operating officer and the commander of CAP-USAF.

    Phelka, a native of Michigan living in the Greater Detroit area, joined Civil Air Patrol as a cadet in 1987. During his cadet career, he completed all 15 achievements of the CAP cadet program, earning the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award — the highest achievement available to cadets — in 1993. He also visited Germany as a participant in the International Air Cadet Exchange in the summer of 1993.

    Following transition to senior membership, Phelka’s assignments included three years as commander of the Michigan Wing’s Livonia Thunderbolt Cadet Squadron and two years as commander of the Southeast Michigan Group, director of cadet programs in both the Michigan and Colorado wings, and chief of staff for the Colorado Wing.

    Phelka was assigned to lead the six wings of the Great Lakes Region in March 2015 after serving as national controller — as the principal adviser to the national commander and CAP Senior Advisory Group on logistics and financial accountability — from August 2011-January 2015. He commanded the Colorado Wing from December 2007-April 2011.

    Phelka earned his private pilot certificate in 1998, and is a commercial, multi-engine and instrument-rated certified flight instructor, CAP cadet orientation pilot and CAP check pilot examiner with over 1,600 flying hours. He holds Master ratings in the Command, Logistics and Cadet Programs specialty tracks; Senior ratings in Flight Operations, Stan/Eval, and Plans and Programs; and Mission Pilot, Observer, Scanner and Transport Mission Pilot, and glider tow pilot qualifications. In 2007, he completed Level V of the Senior Member Professional Development program, earning the Gill Robb Wilson Award.

    Phelka has also commanded region-level encampments and Cadet Leadership Schools, soloed CAP cadet students at the Johnson Flight Academy in Mattoon, Illinois, served as a seminar adviser for both Cadet Officer School and National Staff College at CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and worked as a staff member for the International Air Cadet Exchange in Washington, D.C. In 2006 he created a new National Cadet Special Activity (Airline Careers Exploration), successfully directing that event for two years at Denver International Airport.

    Outside of Civil Air Patrol, Phelka works as a certified flight instructor and corporate pilot. In the past, he was employed as an interpreter, supervisor, manager and senior manager in both customer service and operations departments at Northwest Airlines (Detroit) and Frontier Airlines (Denver) from 1995-2007. He was also employed at an aviation software company in Boulder, Colorado, as director of international sales from 2008-2010.

    Phelka holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with major fields of study in economics and the German language.

    He and his wife, Dr. Amanda Phelka, have two children.

    August 8, 2017 | Source: | Great Lake Region's Phelka Named Next Natl. Vice Commander

    Southwest Region's Col. Mark Smith Named CAP's Next CEO/National Commander

    posted Aug 8, 2017, 2:19 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Aug 8, 2017, 2:21 PM ]

    New Top Senior Leader Will Assume Command at 2017 National Conference in San Antonio

    Col. Mark Smith has been selected as Civil Air Patrol’s next chief executive officer and national commander by the organization’s Board of Governors.

    A change of command ceremony with Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, current CEO/national commander, will be held during CAP’s National Conference in San Antonio on Sept. 2.

    Smith, Civil Air Patrol’s Southwest Region commander, will serve as the organization’s top senior leader for the next three years. As CAP’s 24th CEO/national commander, Smith will lead CAP’s 57,000 members across the U.S. in fulfilling the organization’s three congressionally chartered missions — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.

    “Col. Smith has the right blend of leadership skills, qualifications and experience to lead Civil Air Patrol into the future,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Judy Fedder, chair of CAP’s Board of Governors. “The members of the Board of Governors look forward to working with Col. Smith to continuously improve the organization in support of the outstanding service our members provide to their communities, states and nation.”

    Smith has excelled in Civil Air Patrol as a commander at the squadron, wing and region levels. He has completed all five levels of the CAP professional development (PD) program. He earned PD master ratings in command and safety as well as a senior rating in aerospace education. He has also earned an executive rating in CAP’s Organizational Excellence program.

    He also heads up CAP’s Leadership Development Working Group, which is a national-level team that has developed products, tools and courses to better equip CAP’s leaders at all levels for success. The group recently released a highly acclaimed Unit Commander’s Course.

    “Col Smith represents the best of the executive volunteer leaders in Civil Air Patrol today,” said Vazquez. “His leadership of Southwest Region, as well as work on a new generation of squadron and wing commander training, greatly benefits all CAP members. He is a great choice to succeed me, and I look forward to working with him to achieve a smooth transition.”

    In addition to his experience in CAP, Smith has 43 years of leadership experience in the Air Force, industry and other nonprofit volunteer organizations. His background includes experience with strategic planning, leading change, positively influencing organizational culture and motivating units to achieve higher levels of performance. He is also passionate about servant leadership and helping organizational members achieve their full potential.

    Smith has a doctorate in education in ethical leadership from Olivet Nazarene University, a master’s of aviation management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a bachelor’s in international affairs from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a graduate of the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.

    “The selection process for national commander was revised five years ago to reflect the needs of the organization,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Marné Peterson, chair of the Board of Governors’ personnel committee. “The board is excited to announce Col. Smith’s selection as the next national commander/CEO and we are confident he will serve the organization and its members extremely well in the coming years.”

    After being notified of his selection, Smith said, “I am excited to be given the opportunity to serve as Civil Air Patrol’s next CEO and national commander. I look forward to partnering with our phenomenal volunteers and staff to take our organization to even greater levels of excellence in service to community, state and nation.”

    June 19, 2017 | Source: | Southwest Region's Col. Mark Smith Named CAP's Next CEO/National Commander

    Lt Col Robert L. Boucher Passes

    posted Jun 27, 2017, 8:59 AM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Jun 27, 2017, 9:01 AM ]

    We must sadly report the passing of Lt Col Robert L. Boucher, CAP of Columbia Basin Composite Squadron on June 26, 2017.

    Bob proudly and reliably served his community, state, and nation in Civil Air Patrol for 63 years. He was a strong leader and role model for many CAP seniors and cadets over the decades. He served as squadron commander, an encampment staff officer, a communications officer, a finance officer, and in many other important positions and functions in CAP. Until his later years, he was a constant presence at Washington Wing's Emergency Services Training Academy in Ephrata, where the Washington Wing facility proudly goes on memorializing his name.

    He graduated from Ellicott (Colorado) High School in 1942, and attended the University of Colorado in 1949. Later, he left college to enlist in the U.S. Army. Between 1949 and 1986, Bob worked in data processing for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at the Grand Coulee Dam. He was preceded in death by his wife to whom he was happily married for 58 years.

    Many of us have had the distinct pleasure of knowing and serving with Lt Col Boucher. He will be missed, but always remembered for the gentle person he was who was always smiling. Thank you for your lifetime of service to CAP, Lt Col Robert L. Boucher.

    As details about any possible memorial services for Lt Col Boucher are determined, we will announce them.

    Washington Civil Air Patrol Members Test Crisis Response in Statewide Exercise: “The Perfect Storm”

    posted Jun 22, 2017, 2:34 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Jun 24, 2017, 8:41 AM ]

    Washington Civil Air Patrol Members Test Crisis Response in Statewide Exercise: “The Perfect Storm”
    By Capt Jessica Jerwa and Lt Col Jeffrey A. Lustick, Washington Wing Public Affairs, published June 22, 2017

    McCHORD FIELD, Wash.
    – Civil Air Patrol members from around the state are participating in a multi-day training exercise this weekend, beginning Thursday, June 22, and concluding Sunday, June 25. The Pierce County Airport-Thun Field (PLU) in Puyallup, Wash., will serve as the mission base, while five remote staging areas will be activated across the state including Yakima, Spokane, Walla Walla, Bellingham, and Vancouver.

    According to Colonel James Furlong, Commander of Washington Wing, “We are calling it the ‘Perfect Storm,’ and it is a training exercise to test the readiness of our local members and to employ our aircraft, aircrews, and emergency services teams to assist state and national organizations during a simulated state-level emergency. We don’t really know what twists and turns the training mission will be dealt to us until it happens.”

    This weekend’s exercise will be directly overseen by a field evaluation team from the U.S. Air Force and could include various hypothetical scenarios ranging from simulated natural disasters, crashed aircraft, to terrorism incidents. “We look forward to these exercises all year,” Colonel Furlong added.

    Responsibilities for CAP members working in the exercise will include ground search and rescue, airborne reconnaissance and photography, as well high-frequency radio communications. CAP Cessna aircraft will fly missions from around the state.

    While specific details of the exercise are sparse in advance of the exercise, Incident Commander Major Brett Knapp, notes that simply the name of the exercise infers it will be a busy weekend, “a ‘Perfect Storm’ is a particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors, which in this context could include simulated events such as wildfires, earthquakes, missing aircraft or hikers, and more.”

    Adult and youth members of the Washington Wing Civil Air Patrol regularly take part in homeland security and disaster preparedness exercises and response missions, assisting local, state and national organizations with crisis and terrorism preparedness. Most recently, Washington Wing members participated in OPERATION ARDENT SENTRY, which was part of the region-wide Cascadia Rising 9.0 earthquake simulation. CAP members worked alongside mission specialists from the Washington National Guard, FEMA, and many county sheriff’s offices.

    Washington Wing will fly several missions for their disaster response exercise: "The Perfect Storm" (CAP photo/1st Lt Scott Story)

    Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in STEM/aerospace education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

    Locally, Washington volunteers operate a fleet of 23 vehicles and 14 aircraft (Cessna 172s, 182s, and a 206, as well as 2 Blanik gliders) for inland search and rescue missions and cadet orientation flight instruction. The wing is comprised of 744 adult members (ages 18+) and 626 cadets (ages 12-21), organized into 27 squadrons, who contributed a value of $4.9 million in volunteer hours to their local communities and the citizens of Washington in 2016. Visit for more information.

    Employee Volunteer Grants!

    posted Jun 15, 2017, 5:19 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Jun 16, 2017, 10:10 AM ]

    Get your unit paid by your employer while you volunteer!

    Have you checked with your employer's HR department to see if they have a charitable matching program? For example, Bank of America, Boeing, and Microsoft each have programs that will donate to your unit in exchange for your volunteer time! Talk to your HR department, then contact​ if you have any questions on how to get started! It's almost like getting paid to volunteer!

    Bank of America

    Bank of America employees and retirees volunteer thousands of hours globally in our neighborhoods each year. In fact, more than 3,000 charitable organizations benefit from our employees and retirees’ dedication each year. To honor those who give their time and service to causes important to them, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation awards volunteer grants, which are up to $500 per employee or retiree for each calendar year and are made in the name of the employee or retiree, to eligible charitable organizations.

    (more info)


    Boeing matches employee and retiree donations to most nonprofits. The company provides a dollar for dollar match on the first $6,000 donated per employee and a 50% match on donations from retirees. 

    Boeing offers two types of volunteer grants for employees:
    1. Individual Volunteer Grants
      Boeing offers volunteer grants to recognize employees who volunteer with nonprofit organizations. The company provides a $250 grant for every 25 hours of volunteering (max $6,000)

    2. Cause Related Walk Grants
      Boeing provides a $100 grant for every fundraising walk, run, bike, bowl-a-thon, etc. that an employee participates in.


    Microsoft is widely known to have one of the leading employee giving programs. In past years the company has matched more than $47 million in employee donations to a wide variety of charities. 

    Microsoft provides grants to nonprofits where its employees volunteer on a regular basis.

    Microsoft employees who volunteer can request a grant of $17 per every hour volunteered (minimum of 4 hours per calendar year.)

    (page source: WAWG/PA)

    Cadet First Lieutenant Mai Le accepts Air Force Academy Appointment

    posted May 30, 2017, 2:43 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated May 30, 2017, 2:46 PM ]

    By Senior Member Brandi Mitchell, Bellingham Composite Squadron 

    Cadet First Lieutenant Mai Le has accepted appointment to the United States Air Force Academy Class of 2021!

    The Air Force Academy is among the most selective colleges in the United States. Many Candidates for admission are judged on their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, athletics, and character. To gain admission, candidates must also pass a fitness test, undergo a thorough medical examination, and secure a nomination from a U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative in the candidate's home district.

    The United States Air Force Academy offers a four-year program of instruction and experience designed to provide cadets the knowledge and character essential for leadership, and the motivation to serve as Air Force career officers. Each cadet graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

    Recent incoming classes have had about 1,400 cadets; historically fewer than 1,000 of those will graduate. About 10% of incoming students have also been Civil Air Patrol cadets. Upon graduation, Cadet Le receives a 2nd Lt Commission in the USAF along with a Major in Aeronautical Engineering and a Minor in French.

    Cadet First Lt. Le leaves this advice for the cadets she has had the honor of leading and those she looks forward to leading in the future, “Things don’t go the way you plan. There are sacrifices to be made for bigger and better outcomes. Hard work can get you anywhere. Don’t procrastinate. You don’t have to have a lot of shiny stuff [medals and awards] to be a good cadet. BUT it doesn’t hurt to strive to get them.”

    Cadet First Lt. Le currently serves as a Flight Commander in the Bellingham Composite Squadron.

    C/1st Lt Mai Le poses with Col Tracey Meck, USAF, retired, her Air Force Academy Liaison Officer and Joe the Falcon, the U.S. Air Force Academy Mascot. (Photo: C/SSgt Rachel Reed, Bellingham Composite Squadron)

    McChord Composite Squadron Presents the Colors for Museum of Flight Memorial Day Ceremony

    posted May 30, 2017, 9:43 AM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated Jun 28, 2017, 10:56 AM ]

    By Lt. Col. Jeffrey A. Lustick, Washington Wing Public Affairs

    Honor Guard Cadets from McChord Composite Squadron (located on McChord Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord) presented the colors at The Museum of Flight's Memorial Day Ceremony on May 29, 2017, in Tukwila, Washington. 

    After, the guest of Honor, Colonel Leonard J. Kosinski, United States Air Force, 62nd Airlift Wing commander at JBLM, took the time to meet the cadre and shared his truly inspiring personal stories.


    Col. Leonard J. Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander at JBLM meets with Cadets from McChord Composite Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Todd Wivell, 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs)

    Cadet Officers Retreat

    posted May 26, 2017, 6:11 PM by Zachary Lam   [ updated May 30, 2017, 9:29 AM by Jessica Jerwa ]

    Are you a brand new cadet officer looking to find more activity experience and meet cadet officers from around the wing? Are you a cadet officer who has a lot of staffing experience and enjoys working with other cadet officers in the wing? 

    Either way, the Cadet Officers Retreat is a great opportunity for you! Tentative plans include discussing ways to improve the wing and implementing the solutions, planning out your goals while hiking up a mountain, and building friendships with other cadet officers while navigating the Fort Lewis obstacle course. The retreat will mix academics with adventure and fun.

    Dates: 25 - 27 August 2017
    Where: Mt Rainier Composite Squadron
                 16807 103rd Avenue East
                 South Hill, WA 98374
    Cost: $55
    Who: C/2d Lt - C/Col

    Registration will open 20 June and close 20 July. 

    Civil Air Patrol provides O-Flights for University of Washington AFROTC Cadets

    posted May 22, 2017, 3:13 PM by Jessica Jerwa   [ updated May 22, 2017, 3:20 PM ]

    Story/Photos: UW AFROTC Detachment 910 / Public Affairs

    SEATTLE -- The University of Washington's Detachment 910 had two cadets fly an orientation “O” flight this weekend led by Civil Air Patrol pilot 1st Lt Phil Peters of South Sound Composite Squadron. The flight toured the Puget Sound region and made several stops on a beautiful sunny day. The cadets pictured are Jacob Bernardi and Giovanni Inouye. Both are UW Sophomores, 2nd year AFROTC cadets and aspiring pilots headed to AFROTC Leadership Evaluation And Development (LEAD) this summer. Big thanks goes to CAP’s Washington Wing and Lt Peters in particular for phenomenal support.



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