Civil Air Patrol Summer Academy at Norwich University introduces young people to military lifestyle and values

Norwich University’s cadets, ROTC and Corps, are about a month and a half from arriving on campus. But this past week, as it has since 2007, the Civil Air Patrol’s New Hampshire Wing put its cadets through paces on the Upper Parade Ground and around campus.

The wing’s Summer Academy, which ran July 18 through Sunday, is a leadership laboratory that helps cadets 12 to 18 years old grow personally and develop teamwork by tackling challenges. The Norwich encampment served Civil Air Patrol cadet airmen (in Basic Encampment) and cadet noncommissioned officers (in Noncommissioned Officer Leadership School).

The Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, all-volunteer nonprofit civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. A Norwich alumnus, Lt. Col. Walter Brown ’72 P’99, a onetime New Hampshire Wing homeland security officer, helped establish what became the Civil Air Patrol Summer Academy at Norwich University in 2007, along with Collins Davison, Norwich University’s then-Civil Air Patrol recruitment director; and Don Davidson Sr., a former New Hampshire Wing commander. 

“I try to challenge cadets to get everything they can out of CAP, because it has so much to give and it puts them in good places to get what they want for the future.”Josiah Boggs ’14, former Civil Air Patrol cadet

 The 2007 camp included a Basic Encampment and a Ground Team Training School. 

“Everything about holding the encampment at Norwich was terrific,” Lt. Col. Robert Shaw, a Norwich ambassador who was then the wing’s cadet programs director and emergency services training officer, said in a story from the Civil Air Patrol’s 2018 spring newsletter that was also posted online.

The newsletter story said the Civil Air Patrol’s 2007 camp at Norwich succeeded smashingly, leading to its long continuation and the start of a Norwich University scholarship for Civil Air Patrol cadets. (The $20,000 scholarships pay $5,000 per year for full-time residential students.)

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Cadets from the Civil Air Patrol’s New Hampshire Wing gathered on the Upper Parade Ground on Thursday for the Summer Academy. (Photo by Matthew Crowley/Norwich University.)

Documents for this summer’s Summer Academy Basic Encampment said Civil Air Patrol cadet airmen developed leadership skills, investigated aerospace sciences, committed to a lifestyle of regular exercise and solidified moral character and self-discipline. Activities included rappelling, obstacle courses and firearms training. Four squadrons participated in the New Hampshire Wing basic encampment at Norwich, about 89 Civil Air Patrol cadets in all.

The Noncommissioned Officer Leadership School included eight Civil Air Patrol cadets, who instructed a class, presented a report on Civil Air Patrol-related subjects, led a drill and evaluated subordinate cadets in drill and uniform inspections.

Origin story

The Civil Air Patrol launched Dec. 7, 1941, the same week the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. The Civil Air Patrol was formed to mobilize civilian aviation resources for national defense service. The organization has since become public service-focused and includes 60,000 members.

The Civil Air Patrol this year became part of the U.S. Air Force’s Total Force, which comprises the Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and retired Air Force personnel and civilian Air Force employees.

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About 100 Civil Air Patrol cadets participated in the New Hampshire Wing’s Summer Academy, marching in formation rappelling and participating in other activities. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

As part of Total Force, the Civil Air Patrol operates 550 aircraft and performs about 90% of continental U.S. inland search-and-rescue missions. A Defense Visual Information Distribution Service story on Monday reported that the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center credits the Civil Air Patrol with saving 78 lives, on average, annually. The Civil Air Patrol also performs homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at federal, state and local agencies’ requests.

The Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program, which follows the Air Force’s rank structure, customs and courtesies, shapes future leaders and promotes aviation through aerospace and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

In the past decade, Norwich has enrolled two of the Civil Air Patrol’s highest achievers, recipients of the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award. Since its 1964 debut, the Spaatz Award has gone to fewer than 2,400 cadets, or less than 0.5% of all cadets. 

The award is named for Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, the U.S. Air Force’s first chief of staff, who commanded the Allied air campaign against the Nazis in World War II and the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Spaatz Award winners and lasting lessons

Josiah Boggs, who attended Norwich from 2011 to 2016, and graduated with a physics degree, received the Spaatz Award in January 2014. He’s now a U.S. Navy aviator.

Zane Fockler, a rising junior majoring in environmental science, received the Spaatz Award in December 2018.

“As a cadet, I squeezed everything out of CAP that I could,” Boggs told Civil Air Patrol writer Jennifer Gerhard, an Air National Guard public affairs officer, for the 2018 Civil Air Patrol newsletter article. “I try to challenge cadets to get everything they can out of CAP, because it has so much to give and it puts them in good places to get what they want for the future.”

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The weeklong Civil Air Patrol New Hampshire Wing Summer Academy was a leadership laboratory that helped cadets 12 to 18 years old grow personally and develop teamwork by tackling challenges. (Photo by Matthew Crowley/Norwich University.)

In a 2019 interview, Fockler said his Civil Air Patrol experiences, and winning the Spaatz Award, readied him to pursue new ambitions, including working toward an Air Force commission and leadership chances in Norwich’s Corps of Cadets.

Jayson A. Altieri ’89, a retired U.S. Army colonel who is now a professor at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, served on the Civil Air Patrol’s Board of Governors from 2012 to 2018. At Norwich, he’s served on the Board of Fellows and Bicentennial Committee. 

In the Civil Air Patrol in the late 1970s, Altieri was a ground team leader with the Virginia Wing’s Roanoke and Blacksburg composite squadrons. In an email, Altieri wrote that CAP introduced him to the military lifestyle and the service-before-self ethos and availed him of community service opportunities. The lessons have lasted, he said.  

“I was fortunate that many of my military career paths mirrored by experiences in CAP,” Altieri wrote in an email. “From learning to fly an airplane when I was 16 years old to leading a search team to find a missing person in the mountains of western Virginia, what I learned as a CAP cadet still resonates with my past duties as an U.S. Army Officer and NCO and currently as an assistant professor at the U.S. Air Force’s Air War College.”

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