2018 New Year

Mt Airy Composite Squadron brought in the new year with enthusiasm, conquering many challenges and embracing change. The website was down for a brief time, but getting all the bugs out took longer. Forgive the interruption. The challenge of this post is to bring everyone up to date.

January :

  • Cadets voiced an interest in forming an Emergency Services Ground Team. Cadet Commander Raegan Buzzard and 2nd Lt Alvarado attended the Maryland Wing Ground Ops Academy to check out the program. Imagine an operation set up with volunteers who have years of experience and an avid interest in teaching the next generation. Not enough praise can be heaped on Lt Col Midkiff and his group of volunteers for their efforts at the Ground Ops Academy.
  • The squadron made the decision to meet every third week on Wednesday at the Mt Airy Izaak Walton League in an effort to have a place for emergency services training.
  • Cadets and Senior members ventured to Arlington Nation Cemetery for Wreath Clean up.
  • Promotion night saw the advancement of senior members as well as cadets and the formal presentation of Maryland Wing awards were made. See the 2018 January Promotion post for more detail.
  • Commander Smith-Velazquez, senior member Madsen, cadets Madsen and Grasley joined Carroll Composite Squadron on a visit to the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.


  • Cadet  Staff Sergeant Grasley leads the charge to gain Ground Team certification and attends the Ground Ops Academy. Introductory User Training Communications (ICUT) was conducted by Cadet Mullaney, a radio enthusiast, working on his evaluator qualifications. His teaching material and performance was evaluated by senior evaluators in attendance. This was a great example of cadets stepping up to lead.
  • Captain Iacarino visited the squadron to speak on the subject of summer encampment. More than a “boot camp” it’s a week long exercise in personal growth, self-discipline and leadership. Cadets make new friends, experience new activities, achieve self knowledge and earn bragging rights.
  • Maryland Wing Subordinate Unit Inspection occurred on promotion night. Cadet staff stepped up and conducted the night’s program while the Commander and senior members assisted in the inspection.  Mt Airy Composite Squadron did very well on their inspection and are relieved to put it behind them and focus on new goals.
  • Cadets Katherine Grasley and Dylan Marty achieved the Wright Brothers Milestone Award. Cadet Deputy Commander James Buchheit achieved his General Billy Mitchell Milestone Award. A formal presentation of the Mitchell award will be made when the numbered certificate is received.


  • The Ground Ops Academy is gaining squadron cadet interest. Cadets Staff Sergeant Dylan Marty and Airman Conner Snyder join Staff Sergeant Katherine Grasley. The training continues and field experience is added to the mix.
  • Cadets fill out Summer Encampment registration and scholarship forms.
  • Aerospace night had the cadets experimenting with fundamentals of physics and exploring design skills and creative thinking to save the egg.
  • Cadets Buzzard, Marty and Madsen join Captain Winters at the annual Kiwanis of Frederick All U Can Eat Pancake Breakfast.
  • Fourth week Promotion night was cancelled due to bad weather and Carroll County school closing.
  • Fifth week Thursday was held at the Izaak Walton League (IWL). Operational Risk Management was cadet led and Steve Barton, IWL, conducted safety training.

Mt Airy Civil Air Patrol Squadron joins thousands of Wreaths Across America supporters at Arlington National Cemetery

15 December 2017. Arlington, Va. Mt Airy composite squadron partnered with Maryland Wing (MDWG) members, other Civil Air Patrol (CAP) regional representatives and community volunteers at the Wreaths Across America (WAA) annual event held at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Occurring yearly in December, National Wreaths Across America Day, brings together volunteers around the nation with a mission to Remember, Honor and Teach at coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at over 1,400 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. CAP, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, has been an avid supporter of Wreaths Across America and its mission since the program’s inception in 1992.

CAP is committed to encourage and train its members to provide community services that include honor and color guards for ceremonies, logistic distribution, radio communications, sponsorship and aerospace education. Mt Airy squadron worked to raise wreath sponsorships for the ANC event during the 2017. In preparation for the event, cadet major (C/Maj) Daniel Flanick discussed the value of freedom and trained Mt Airy seniors, cadets and community volunteers in the customs and courtesies to be observed when laying wreaths; remembering the fallen and honoring those who served.

On the National WAA Day, Mt Airy cadets provided an honor guard and joined with over 75,000 other volunteers in placing wreaths upon ANC gravesites of the men and women who have served America. This year’s large crowd at ANC placed more than 245,000 wreaths at gravesites of U.S. service members. It was an awe inspiring day as participating volunteers stopped to observe and photograph the many solemn deeds. Throughout the day, many participants and attendees were heard to comment “I like the show of respect.”

Mt Airy squadron members returned to Arlington National Cemetery on January 20, 2018, to assist in the cleanup day, commonly known as ‘Wreaths Out.’ The day’s mild temperature and clear skies brought volunteers out in droves. By 8:45 a.m., the cemetery headstones were clear of wreaths, the dumpsters full and the cleanup complete. “This is a day where the wreaths so solemnly placed on the headstones of our nation’s fallen service members and their families are respectfully removed by volunteers,” said Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Katharine Kelley.

Taking into account the well-known historical sites in ANC, cadets and seniors took advantage of the opportunity to also view the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visit the Arlington House, John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Witnessing the time-honored ceremonies, discovering the rich history and reflecting on the many sacrifices made by our military men and women, the Mt Airy members achieved the Wreaths Across America mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.

2018 January Promotions Meeting

2018 January 25, Mt Airy, MD Promotion night meeting, held every fourth week of the month was held at the Mt Airy VFW, 1900 (7:30pm). Mt Airy Composite Squadron’s opening ceremony and inspection was followed with leadership education, conducted by cadet Master Sergeant Albertson. Albertson incorporated a knowledge game to create friendly competition between cadet teams and reinforce knowledge gained. Major Flanick and First Lieutenant Buzzard reviewed etiquette and formality used while conducting a Promotion Review Board (PRB). Cadets took turns approaching and conducting a promotion board.

The first promotion night of the year saw the advancement of cadets, senior members and the presentation of awards.

  • Promotion:
    • Cadet Senior Airman Jackson Varley
    • Cadet Senior Airman Katherine Grasley
    • Cadet Major Daniel Flanick
    • 1st Lieutenant Mary Alvarado
  • Awards:
    • 2017 December Cadet of the Month –C/SrA Katherine Grasley
    • 2017 Cadet of the 4th Quarter – C/SrA Katherine Grasley
    • Maryland Wing Outstanding Cadet Officer of the Year – C/Maj Daniel Flanick
    • Maryland Wing Finance Officer of the Year – 2d Lt Patti Messick
  • Training Achievement:
    • Senior Member Linda Grasley
    • Senior Member Dawn Madsen

Mt Airy Composite Squadron celebrates a Dual Change of Command

December 14, 2017. Mt Airy, Md. “Sir, I accept command.” With these words, Mount Airy Composite Squadron, a unit of the Maryland Wing (MDWG), Civil Air Patrol, held Change of Command ceremonies at the Mt Airy Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 10076. The Change of Command is a time-honored military tradition designed to mark the occasion when responsibility of command is passed from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander. On this night, the occasion was marked with a dual change of command.

The evening began with the ceremony to mark the change of the squadron’s commander. The Master of Ceremonies, Second Lieutenant (2d Lt) Mary Alvarado began with a brief military history and description of the symbolism behind the “passing of the flag.” Cadet Chief Master Sergeant (C/CMSgt), James Buchheit, served as the squadron guidon (flag) bearer accompanied by Major (Maj) John Strong, Group 1 Commander, MDWG, who served as the presiding officer.

The squadron’s guidon was passed from C/CMSgt Buchheit to outgoing squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Ray Buzzard who presented it to Strong. Strong then presented the guidon to the incoming squadron commander, Captain (Capt) Laura Smith-Velazquez. With the words, “Sir, I accept command,” Smith-Velazquez formally accepted command duties and responsibilities for the Mt Airy squadron.

After the squadron commander’s ceremony was completed, Smith-Velazquez and Strong officiated the cadet commander’s change of command. Serving as the cadet commander is the ultimate challenge for a cadet officer. It is an enormous test of leadership skill. The position stands at the epicenter of the squadron as the cadet commander is the most visible cadet, a role model for the entire cadet corps, and the liaison between the senior staff and the cadet staff. Cadet First Lieutenant (C/1st Lt) Blake Scott stepped down as the squadron’s cadet commander and C/1st Lt Raegan Buzzard became the new cadet commander. Former cadet commander Scott gave a farewell address and the evening came to a close with refreshments and fellowship. The squadron prepares to bring in the New Year with a new infusion of energy and enthusiasm.

Photos by 2d Lt Mary Alvarado


Civil Air Patrol Meeting, Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mt Airy Composite Squadron began it’s regularly scheduled Thursday night’s meeting with opening ceremony at Mt Airy Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting room at 6:30 p.m. This second week in December is scheduled for Aerospace education. Uniform inspection was conducted after opening ceremony and was followed by drill instruction outside.

The aerospace class was conducted by cadet 2nd Lieutenant Ashley Pitt and focused on Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Module 2. An airport runway was delineated on the carpet, using masking tape. Following a power point presentation on airport runway lights and signage, cadets were separated into groups. Each group was responsible for a different set of lights. Using tape and markers, the cadets placed colored pieces of tape on the runway. They were allowed to use their notes and Aerospace Module 2 booklet for reference. Senior member Andrew Walker, pilot, was asked to review the finished runway and contribute to the discussion. Points were given to the teams according to accuracy. The last portion of the lesson was to identify airport signs, drawn on the dry erase board, and describe their purpose.

The aerospace session was followed by a dual Change of Command ceremony. Squadron Commander Ray Buzzard and Cadet Commander Blake Scott have faithfully performed their duties to the squadron and are ready to step down. Major John Strong, Maryland Wing Group 1 Commander was present to officiate. A separate post on the event will follow.

2017 December 07, Physical Training Meeting

First Thursday meeting of the month, 2017 December 7, began with the Mt Airy Composite Squadron cadets gathering at Parr’s Ridge Elementary School at 1830, 6:30 pm military time. Following warm-up exercises the cadets performed the one-mile run and recorded their time. With the advent of cold weather, the decision was made to proceed back to Mt Airy Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) meeting room and finish up the evening’s activities.

The use of good judgment and common sense are required during these activities; safety is a priority and taught to the cadets. Lt Col Dean Trombley conducted a follow-up on last week’s lesson on Operational Risk Management (ORM). Learning ORM and its application is an effort to encourage cadets to deliberately make good choices. According to the Civil Air Patrol Program:

“Operational Risk Management (ORM) is a process designed to detect, assess and control risk, and at the same time, enhance mission performance. Simply put, it’s a methodical, six-step process to manage inherent risk.”

The evening’s drill exercise concluded with drill tests and training. Mt Airy Composite Squadron is privileged to have cadets eager to learn and advance through the program.

2017 November 30 Meeting

Mt Airy Composite Squadron met for the fourth meeting in November, following the Thanksgiving break, at the Mt Airy Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting room at 6:30 p.m. on the 30th of November, 2017. This evenings venue included a discussion on social media, operational risk management and promotions.

The squadron began with opening ceremony, uniform inspections, drill and last minute details needed for promotion. The social media discussion was conducted by cadet 1st Lt Buzzard. It began with a quick Power Point presentation reviewing media currently used by the squadron; Facebook, Shutterfly and a website. The second part of the discussion became a lively interaction between cadets. The culmination of which, was a list of social media sites and how many cadets frequented them. Older cadets, 16 years and older, had personal phones and personal accounts. Younger cadets tended to use their parent’s phone and/or account to access social media sites. Public schools and organizations tend to drive the need to communicate via Facebook and Instagram.

The Operational Risk Management (ORM) training was conducted by Lt Col Trombley. The cadets were divided into groups and given a task. While in groups, they brain-stormed and tried to imagine every possible obstacle and risk that might be encountered trying to accomplish the task. They then presented their ideas to everyone and decided whether the risk outweighed the task.

Congratulations to the recipients of this evenings promotions:

  • C/A1C Dylan Marty – Cadet Senior Airman
  • C/Amn Katherine Grasley – Cadet Airman First Class
  • C/Amn Jackson Varley – Cadet Airman First Class
  • C/SSgt Aurora Albertson – Cadet Technical Sergeant

Article and photographs by 2nd Lt Alvarado, PAO

Civil Air Patrol Meeting, Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mt Airy Composite Squadron began it’s regularly scheduled Thursday night’s meeting with opening ceremony at Mt airy Veterans of Foreign wars meeting room at 6:30 p.m. This second week in November is scheduled for Aerospace education. Uniform inspection was conducted after opening ceremony and was followed by drill instruction outside.

Two aerospace classes were conducted this evening. Under the mentoring form aerospace officers 2nd Lieutenant Buchheit and Captain Smith-Velazquez, cadet 2nd lieutenant Pitt taught a class to cadets about clouds. Cadets were separated into groups, given a bag filled with pictures of clouds, names of clouds, and facts about them to see what was already known before the lesson began. The lesson explained that clouds are made of tiny water droplets and there are three basic types:

  • Cumulus – Cotton ball- like, fair weather clouds
  • Stratus – Uniform, thin, light rain
  • Cirrus – Thin, fair weather

There are ten universally recognized types of clouds. Descriptive discussions included Cumulus congests, Nimbostratus, and Altocumulus. After the lesson, cadets were once again separated into groups and the same game was played to see what was learned from class.

The second aerospace class was conducted from Module 1, Aerospace Dimensions, Introduction to Flight. Cadet Captain Flanick covered Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion and Daniel Bernoulli’s pressure differential theory. The three axis of a plane and an explanation on how a wing lifts.

This structured Cadet Program is divided into sixteen segments, called achievements, involving study and performance in five program areas. Senior cadets have progressed through at least the first eight achievements. With their experience and the assistance of adult mentors, they engage, teach and inspire their peers. Service leadership; leading by example. The Civil Air Patrol cadet program is celebrating 75 years of making a difference and mentoring leaders.

Photos by 2nd Lt Alvarado and C/1st Lt Buzzard,
Article contributions by C/SSgt Franklin and C/1st Lt Buzzard.