Fellow Members of the California Wing,
Today is a very proud day for all members of the Civil Air Patrol. For the last 74 years, CAP has been serving our nation without a lot of fanfare. Our members have served in times of war, saved countless lives, brought peace to families of the lost, trained multiple generations of leaders and future leaders and teaches the nation about the past, present and future of aerospace. Hundreds of thousands have been members since our inception and over 58,000 are members today.
While we have been the Official Auxiliary of the United States Air Force since 1948, our partnership with the Air Force has strengthen over the last several years and they have begun relying on us for many vital missions. Over the last year, our National Commander, Major General Joe Vazquez has been working with the Air Force to solidify that relationship. At this morning's opening session of the National Conference in Orlando, Brigadier General Paul Guemmer, the Commander of the Jeannie M. Holm Center delivered a message on behalf of Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Mark Welsh announcing that Air Force Basic Doctrine has been changed and that the Civil Air Patrol is now part of the Air Force's Total Force of Active Duty, Reserves, Air National Guard and now, Auxiliary. For the first time, members of the Civil Air Patrol were referred to as American Airmen.
While being considered an Airman is a true honor, it is also carries with it an immense responsibility. We can no longer be the best kept secret in the Air Force. As a member of the Total Force, we will be expected to perform at the levels of the other members of the team. In short, we are no longer in the minor leagues. We have made it to the big leagues and everything we do from how we wear our uniforms to how we perform our missions must always live up to the title of American Airman.
Over the last four years, I have had the honor of leading one of the finest wings in the nation and have seen all of you rise to the challenges that the organization has placed before you. You have exceed my expectations and it is as a result of your hard work that we have been bestowed this honor but it will be up to all of you moving forward to continue the tradition of excellence and continue to grow personally and professionally. You must continue to grow and excel in our three missions and in your own professional development. It is only through this growth that we will demonstrate our contribution to the Total Force and to the safety and security of our nation.
Over the last four years, I have adopted a slogan that I use at the end of all my presentations that says "I am proud to tell everyone that will listen that I am a member of the California Wing" and I can now add to that "and am an American Airman." Thank you for all that you do and have done to make this change in the Basic Doctrine possible. The future is before us. Go seize it.
Semper Vigilans, Airmen
Jon Stokes, Colonel, CAP
Commander, California Wing.
Commander, California Wing.