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Mon, Nov 13, 2006

CAP Cadets Proud To Serve

And Show Wisdom Beyond Their Years

The "regular Joe" on the street may have heard about the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), but may have very little idea of what it actually stands for and why young people, as young as middle-school-aged, choose to join the CAP as cadets.

As a nonprofit auxiliary of the Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol boasts more than 58,000 members, including those 27,000 cadets. It flies the world's largest fleet of single-engine, piston aircraft, and also boasts the nation's most extensive communications network.

For the young people who make the decision to join, those facts often don't come into play, however. It's the opportunity for hone leadership skills, allow themselves more options following high school, and learn about aerospace and aviation. Sometimes, it's even by accompanying a friend who didn't want to go alone to a meeting that does the trick.

Such was the case for 15-year-old Cadet Master Sergeant Angela Cooper, of Perris, CA, who "joined up" way back in the eighth grade (she's now a high-school sophomore).

For Angela, the Cadet program of the CAP gives her a head start for her goal of becoming a politician.

"The Cadet program, is structured and run by dedicated adults," she said. Her leadership skills have improved, as have her public speaking skills. Additionally, her networking opportunities have given her contacts "around America."

Her family has been supportive, although she noted that they didn't expect her to come home wearing combat boots. "I think they had cheerleading and the performing arts in their mind," she laughed.

Cadet Second Lt. Iran Quijano of San Jacinto, CA is in his third year in the Cadet program and has also completed his first year in AF Junior ROTC at San Jacinto High School.

It is, he says, an "introduction to the military" and gives him more options after high school, where his interests lie in criminal justice and law enforcement and the military.

"I've learned how to work with well with others," he said, noting that he was the type of person who did things by himself. "You depend on other people to get things done."

The best candidates for the Cadet program, according to Quijano, are those willing to make something of themselves and who are committed and goal-oriented.

Cadet Second Lt. Philip Ensley, of Beaumont, CA, is looking to become a test pilot for the Air Force, following an aviation college education and AFROTC. A senior in high school, he admits to being "incredibly obsessed" with aviation and sees the Cadet CAP program as a doorway to it. He already flies a Cessna 152.

Ensley is also inspired by those who served the country in the military. Particularly on Veteran's Day -- which it was when ANN spoke with all the cadets -- he thinks about those who died and what they died for.

FMI: www.cap.gov

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