Civil Air Patrol develops youth
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As the sun sets over Osan Air Base one Monday evening, the sharp yells of drill instruction echo across the flight line. But if anyone followed the calls of attention and facing movements, they would not find the expected group of seasoned Airmen standing in ranks. They would find the Osan Civil Air Patrol.
Standing in formation are youth of different ages -- all in distinctive uniforms that resemble the past and present U.S. Air Force.
Though the organization is heralded as the auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force, one may not believe these fresh-faced, young adults are capable of the demanding tasks of the armed forces. Their disciplined posture and pride are evident in their eyes.
"I've learned military customs and courtesies, drill, leadership skills, and aerospace stuff," said Cadet Tech. Sgt. Aiden Kress, as he explained the rigorous training. "I've gotten to fly a Cessna and I'm going to a camp for search and rescue this summer so I can be eligible."
Cadet Staff Sgt James McGovern believes CAP is the most valuable extracurricular activity available for high school students.
"It's great," he said. "It's leadership, and it's something that I feel is lacking in the generation coming forth. Even if you don't join the Air Force or you're not a part of the military, it teaches you things that will last."
Every single cadet in the Osan Cadet Squadron, or 'Mad Mustangs,' is a part of a military family where one or more parents currently serve at Osan.
For Kress, it is his mother, a lieutenant colonel with the 51st Medical Group.
"It's helped me kind of see what she has to deal with, what she does in her career field, how to run things, and the respect you have to show to your elders."
McGovern explains that being a cadet provides a stronger connection to the military community.
"You feel like you have the same heart and soul," he said. "Maybe I'm not quite as old as them, but you still feel, as a cadet, that soul and the esprit de corps."
With Osan's flight line thrown nearly into darkness, the formation is dismissed. But the night has only just begun for these teens as they head inside for classroom instruction.
Instruction that may prove to be the most valuable education these cadets receive throughout their youth.
"It's knowing how to interact with people in a way that only the military can do," McGovern said. "That's what makes it genius. That's what makes it so homebound, so real, so tangible compared to the other stuff."