LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's squadron of the Civil Air Patrol promoted five of its junior and senior members Saturday at a morning ceremony inside the group's hangar at Briscoe Field.
"Be aware of the great commitment that this entails," Wing Commander Jay Hughes told the audience. "There is nothing that is stronger than the heart of a volunteer."
The CAP of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary was founded in 1941 to patrol and safeguard the shores of the United States from enemy submarines. Once World War II ended, President Harry Truman gave the group it's congressionally mandated missions: cadet programs, emergency services and aerospace education.
And that's what Gwinnett's mix of junior and senior members have focused on throughout the squad's existence. The senior members volunteer their time to the emergency services and disaster relief mission of the CAP in addition to supporting the aerospace educational component provided to cadets, the group's junior members, who range in age from 12 to 21 years old.
While cadets, members learn about the history of aviation and space exploration and the science behind aircraft flight and rocket propulsion. These basics of piloting are an important first step in learning to fly.
"All awards are special and these really mean something," Maj. Paul Branson told the crowd.
The two cadets promoted were Joshua Stultz and Robert Lyday. Stultz was promoted to cadet-second lieutenant while Lyday made cadet-captain.
On the senior side, Patrick Zarnik, Thomas Schmid and his wife, Deb Schmid, were all promoted to lieutenant colonel from major. Jim Weed, also a major, received a commander's commendation while Zarnik also received an acknowledgement for 10 years of service.
Speaking about how her 11th anniversary with the group was approaching next week, Lt. Col. Deb Schmid said there was nothing she wouldn't do for the squad's cadets and their training. She spoke fondly and passionately about the young men and women she's trained throughout the years and the friends she made while a member of the Gwinnett County Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol - GA112.
"I love this program and everything about it," Schmid told the assembled group. "Service to others is where the meaning of life comes from."
For more information on the group, visit their Web site at www.gawg.cap.gov/gwincomp/.