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SD Civil Air Patrol picks up major awards during national conference

Sioux Falls, SD —South Dakota Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), was recognized with three major awards during the organization’s national conference. The awards were announced this afternoon (Friday Aug. 13).

Col. Mary Donley

Col. Mary Donley, CAP, received the national professional development officer of the year award. The CAP professional development program offers a wide range of internal training, including leadership, training related to specific CAP staff jobs, and training required for promotion within CAP. Donley had been named CAP North Central Region and South Dakota Wing professional development officer of the year earlier this summer.  She was selected over region-level award recipients from the seven other CAP regions across the country

South Dakota Wing, CAP, was also awarded two important “mission awards,” the Homeland Defense/Homeland Security and the Aerospace Education mission award.

“It’s exciting to see South Dakota receive these mission related awards,” said Col. Nick Gengler, South Dakota Wing commander, CAP. “Our relationships with the state agencies helped us achieve these awards as well as are due diligence in our own training. We hold training exercises almost every other month and encourage our units to hold training often. We hold ourselves to a high standard here in South Dakota and that creates some of the most professional volunteers and mission effectiveness in the nation.”

Homeland Defense/Homeland Security Mission Award and Aerospace Education Mission Award

The Homeland Defense/Homeland Security Mission Award rated CAP in South Dakota at the top performer among the seven states in CAP’s North Central Region.  The award, made the US Air Force program office that provides liaison for CAP. CAP-USAF, is based on the results of required evaluations, quality and quantity of training activities during the year, performance during actual missions, and cooperation between the CAP wing and state/local agencies.

The Aerospace Education Mission Award, also received by South Dakota Wing, identifies the best wing in aerospace education in each region, one of the three major program areas of the organization. The award is based on wing’s staffing, internal programs, external programs, AE planning, and overall annual AE activity.

“Aerospace education begins at the squadron level with dedicated Aerospace Education Officers and Cadets who have a passion for rocketry, aviation, robotics, sUAVs, and science,” said Lt. Col. Todd Epp, CAP’s South Dakota Chief of Staff.

“At the Wing level, Director of Aerospace Education, Maj. Tim Modde, and Assistant Director for Aerospace Education Maj. John Spangler, have not only made it a point for our squadrons to have brand-new flight simulators, but they’ve gone even beyond that. They spent countless hours building a one-of-a-kind miniature wind tunnel that they take around the wing and the region to teach cadets and senior members about the principles of flight. Their wind tunnel is not only helping teach science, but it is built to last for the coming years.

Also, our senior member pilots are dedicated to giving Cadets as many orientation flights as possible, passing on their love of flying and laying the foundation for future aviators.”

CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, with responsibilities that are part of the USAF’s support to civil authorities to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.

CAP has over 400 members in South Dakota with units in Brookings, Custer, Miller/Faulkton, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Tea. The wing can deploy its six aircraft, ground teams and small search drones to assist in emergency response and provide other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies.

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