Civil Air Patrol welcomes new cadets in Milford

Editor’s Note: There is no Civil Air Patrol meeting this week due to weather precautions.

MILFORD — Teenagers in the area can now explore aerospace skills and search and rescue techniques among other leadership experiences in Milford thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers.

The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, has opened a group for cadets aged 12–18 in town with the hopes of training them for a life of service to the community.

Lt. Colonel Richard Senato helped start the Milford Cadet Squadron which now meets weekly on Wednesday nights from 7–9 p.m. at Avenue United Methodist Church.

With “tremendous benefits for youth” found in the program, he hopes the local group grows.

“The primary purpose of the program is to foster leadership, morality, and give them a chance to find out who they are. It’s a progression to take leadership of their own peers,” the commander of the squadron said.

Training for the cadets is extensive but needed when an emergency arises. Cadets in the military-style organization can advance ranks by gaining leadership and emergency preparedness skills throughout the volunteer-based program.

“The squadron is the very heart of Civil Air Patrol. It is CAP’s operational unit that actually carries out all of plans and programs formulated and directed by higher echelons. Squadrons are trained to furnish assistance to their communities, states and nation in times of national disasters, aircraft accidents, national emergencies along with locale assistance with DEMA, FEMA and the county’s and city’s emergency preparedness divisions when called upon.  Squadrons provide to the Cadets between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age, the instruction of aerospace education, search and rescue and leadership. Simply stated, Cadet’s are the CAP program and the future leaders of tomorrow,” Commander Senato explained.

Statewide, there are more than 140 cadets in Delaware. The Milford squadron is starting out with nine cadets of their own, although more are expected to join in the coming weeks.

As Milford grows its group, the Civil Air Patrol continues to grow nationally while celebrating its 70th anniversary as the auxiliary of the Air Force this year.

“Civil Air Patrol highly values our service to the Air Force and, by extension, to our communities, states and nation,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander and chief executive officer. “We strive for excellence and professionalism in performing our current missions, while we partner with our stakeholders to determine what capabilities they need us to field in the future.”

Volunteers like 81-year-old Commander Senato help keep the organization alive. Soon, he says, a new commander will take his place in Milford leading the helm as the teens grow in leadership and experience. In the meantime, he’s enjoying watching them bloom.

“When I look at these cadets and looking at what they were like on the first day and then they start teaching their peers, that’s the payment I get and the satisfactions I get: to see these kids become leaders and responsible. When you give them an assignment, they do it because they want to help,” he said. “It’s doing something for the community. It’s letting the youth look at the community and say I want to contribute to the community.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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