Civil Air Patrol History
The Civil Air Patrol was founded in December, 1941, at a time of national crisis, mobilizing civilian
volunteers to defend the nation as in no time since the American Revolution. No wonder they were called “Flying Minutemen.”
story continues through the Cold War to more recent times in the same spirit of the CAP Subchasers of WWII. Click here
for more on
the overall history of Civil Air Patrol.
186th (formally Charles K. Hamilton) Composite Squadron History
following squadron history was compiled from information provided by former members. If there is anything that needs to be changed
or added, please contact the squadron ITO Maj. David Poppel
. Thanks for your support of Civil Air Patrol and our squadron.
Southington/ Plainville-based 186th Composite Squadron is under the command of Maj. David Hernandez Jr
. Today, the
squadron is made up of approximately 40 members and meets on Tuesday evenings at the Plainville Airport, 62 Johnson Avenue.
first Civil Air Patrol Squadron in Connecticut was formed in Meriden on December 31, 1941. While members from the Plainville
area served in Civil Air Patrol during World War II, the Plainville Senior Squadron was formed by Plainville residents in 1953.
The first squadron commander was Mike Eustice.
The squadron met at Robertson Airport where Mr. Robertson, owner of the
airport graciously gave the squadron two buildings to use and allowed members to house their aircraft on the field at no charge.
In return, squadron members lent a hand whenever needed at the Airport.
The squadron formed special rescue teams similar
to the present day “Lifestar” that operates out of Hartford Hospital. Mission aircraft would locate the crash site, and if needed,
doctors, nurses and medical supplies were flown in. Ground team members began special training. Accident victims
were carried out by ground teams since local towns did not have their own rescue teams or volunteer ambulances.
1965, George LaPlante of Bristol started a new cadet squadron in Bristol. Later that year, the Plainville Squadron organized
another squadron in New Britain. That year, the Plainville Squadron hosted the first air show at Robertson Airport.
the 1960s, the squadron’s name was changed to the Plainville Cadet Squadron and moved off the airport grounds for meetings.
In the 1970s, the squadron assisted with disaster relief operations in Plainville. Members manned the Civil Defense
Communication Center and assisted police with local traffic control, directing traffic away from flooded areas. From 1970 to
1986, the squadron met in the Civil Defense shelter in the basement of Plainville Junior High School on Route 10.
some members of the disbanded Torrington Squadron transferred to the Bristol Squadron. The Plainville squadron took on members from
the former Willimantic, Watertown and New Britain squadrons, which also disbanded during the mid-70s.
In 1978, the Plainville
Cadet Squadron won the drill competition at Wing level and subsequently represented Connecticut Wing at the Northeast Region Drill
Competition. SGM Ed Murtha, an Army Reserve Drill Sergeant from the 76th Training Divison (USAR) gave much of his valuable, personal
time to training the squadron for this competition. (This information from SGM Pete Markow, a former cadet in the Plainville Cadet
Squadron.) In the early 1980s, the Bristol Cadet Squadron merged temporarily with the Plainville Squadron, although once able to recruit
new members the Bristol Squadron reformed.
The Plainville Cadet Squadron earned “Outstanding Squadron of the Year” honors
for the Connecticut Wing in 1981. A year later, Howard Palmer, former commander of the Bristol Squadron, became Connecticut Wing Commander.
June 27, 1983, the Town of Plainville celebrated Civil Air Patrol Day honoring the local squadron for its outstanding service over
the years, and in recognition of former members who had passed away. Shortly thereafter, the Plainville Cadet Squadron was renamed
the Charles K. Hamilton Composite Squadron in honor of a leading pioneer aviator.
In 1985, the Bristol Composite
Squadron merged with the Charles K. Hamilton Squadron. That year squadron members spent many hours assisting the American Red
Cross during Hurricane Gloria Damage Control.
In 1995, the unit was honored as the “Squadron of the Year” by the Connecticut
During the 1995 storm, the Plainville squadron went into operation. A squadron generator powered radio station
WBIS in Bristol throughout the emergency. Members assisted local towns as needed.
In recent years, the squadron has
resumed flying orientation flights for cadets. Additionally, the squadron provides a full schedule of leadership, aerospace
education, emergency services training for Cadets and Senior Members.
Squadron members also support a variety of community
events including Balloons Over Plainville and the annual Klingberg Family Centers Car Show.
Immediately after the tragic
events of 9/11, CKH Squadron members sprang into action. One of our pilots flew emergency blood supplies to New York while another
remained on stand-by. Several other squadron members helped man the Connecticut Wing’s Communication center.
the size of the squadron nearly doubling to 40 members, the CKH (186th) Composite Squadron received outstanding Squadron honors
at the Connecticut Wing’s Annual Conference in April, 2002. The squadron also earned a number of individual awards including
Staff Administrative Officer (LTC Cassandra Huchko), Cadet Leader (1LT Jack Brophy), Safety Officer (LTC. Carroll Rogers III) and
Senior Member-of-The-Year (1LT Gerald Sledge).
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