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186th Composite squadron, Plainville, CT

Civil Air Patrol, & 186th History
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.”
The 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
 (The 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.
 The 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.
 The 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.
 Around 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. 
 In 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.
 In 1975, 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.
 On 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 Wing.
 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.
 With 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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Civil Air Patrol Core Missions
Aerospace Education
Actually, aerospace education activities permeate most of CAP’s functions in one way or another. There are two distinct programs. One is for CAP members and follows a definite plan of participation and progression. The second program is for nonmembers of CAP—for teachers, classroom students, school administrators, and other interested individuals. The program for senior and cadet CAP members is known as internal aerospace education. It is designed to provide a general knowledge of all aerospace activities, along with the resultant impact of aerospace activities upon our society. The aerospace education program is based on activities and study. Aerospace education is enriched by guest lecturers who are specialists in some phase of aerospace activity; visits to aerospace installations; participation in applied aerospace science activities; and practical experience with aerospace equipment, such as flights in contemporary aircraft.

All other aerospace education activities in which CAP is involved are considered external aerospace education. CAP furnishes aerospace education guidance and materials to educators throughout the nation. Each region is represented by an educator who is known as the regional director of aerospace education (RDAE) who assist educational institutions in planning aerospace education projects, generally referred to as “workshops.” Such assistance may come directly from the RDAE’s office or it may be provided by one of the CAP aerospace education officers located at wing or squadron level. This assistance is provided to schools, civic organizations, and community projects promoting aerospace awareness.
Aerospace education for the general public is provided as a public service using exhibits and demonstrations as well as cooperative programs with business, fraternal, civil, and service organizations. Through these programs, aerospace education fosters our nation’s commitment to the future. One of the most notable examples of CAP’s commitment to aerospace education is the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education, sponsored by CAP. National Congress is designed to promote an understanding of aviation and space education to teachers throughout the nation. This motivational program encourages teachers to incorporate aerospace education into their curricula and leaders to speak out on the aerospace issues facing our nation today.
Emergency Services
The Emergency Services mission includes search and rescue and disaster relief operations. CAP members’ talents have augmented the Air Force in search and rescue and disaster relief since CAP’s formation in 1941. CAP has assisted the nation in times of disaster and in emergency situations when its resources could be used. The primary mission objective of Emergency Services is to save lives and relieve human suffering. To be effective, the lives of CAP personnel performing missions must be safeguarded. CAP demands professionalism in organization, training, and mission execution to accomplish this service. Only qualified members are allowed to participate in actual missions.
Search and Rescue (SAR)
All CAP personnel who participate in SAR operations are volunteers who have been specially trained. A SAR mission is always a serious and critical endeavor. Therefore, CAP units may not participate in a SAR mission unless they have people trained to quickly and successfully accomplish the mission. Life-saving techniques, attained through prior planning and practical exercises in performing the tasks required, must be carried out with speed and efficiency. SAR missions can be quite involved, with many functions and activities to be supervised and accomplished. A typical SAR mission will require people trained in the following areas: command, administration, planning, operations, media relations, and logistics. NOTE: Many of these task areas are similar to the specialty
tracks described in Attachment 1, and they are governed by CAPR 50-15, CAP Operational Missions, and CAPR 55-1, CAP Operational Mission Procedures. EXAMPLE: You can choose a cadet program officer specialty track and also train to be a SAR mission coordinator.

Disaster Relief (DR) Operations
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the single point of contact within the federal system for disaster relief planning and management. This includes civil defense, natural disasters, and man-made emergencies. CAP has national-level agreements with many government and non-government relief agencies. Included are such organizations as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. CAP also has agreements with local agencies at wing levels and participates with the various state and local emergency management offices. The organization of CAP DR efforts is very similar to the SAR mission. The main difference is the agency that controls the mission. CAP always retains command of CAP resources, but mission control is delegated, usually at the state level, to the agency primarily responsible for a particular DR operation.
Other Flight Missions
CAP flight activities are not limited to SAR and DR. There is a national-level agreement between CAP and the US Customs Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Under this agreement, CAP provides reconnaissance, transportation, and communications services to assist these agencies in the control of drug traffic. CAP has no law enforcement authority, it only provides “eyes.”
Another important mission for CAP pilots is orientation flights for CAP cadets and college Air Force ROTC cadets. These flights are often the first opportunities they have to fly and are great motivators. The CAP Communications Network Critical to the accomplishment of the Emergency Services mission is the CAP Communications Network, which is manned by thousands of CAP volunteers. The network is a system of fixed, mobile, and airborne radios. CAP radio nets are operated by qualified CAP personnel and afford the best medium for members to apply what they learn by performing actual radio communications.
The Cadet Program
The CAP Cadet Program is designed to motivate and develop well-rounded young people, who in turn will become model citizens and the future leaders of our nation. The program introduces thousands of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 to aviation, and offers outstanding programs, including some that provide flight instruction in a light airplane or glider at low cost.

The CAP Cadet Program is divided into five phases. The first is an introductory or motivational phase, during which the prospective cadet becomes acquainted with the procedures, requirements, and goals of CAP. Beyond the introductory or motivational phase, there are four numbered phases. Each of these phases emphasizes five areas of achievement—aerospace education, moral leadership, leadership laboratory, squadron activities, and physical fitness. The program is oriented toward activities held within the individual squadron setting. Activities selected by a squadron for its program are designed to meet the individual member’s need. Squadron activities such as drill teams, model rocketry, and model airplane building have been adopted by many units who have enthusiasts in these areas.

A cadet advances through the program by accomplishing specific achievements. For each of the achievements that make up the program, there is an achievement form the cadet completes in consultation with his squadron commander. When the specifications of each achievement have been met, the cadet is eligible to progress to the next achievement and advance in grade. The number of achievements completed determines not only a cadet’s grade, but his or her eligibility for activities and scholarships.
186th Unit Activities