Squadron Commanders Welcome
When I was a young man, I learned about Civil Air Patrol (CAP) at a high school homecoming football game. This would have been around 1985. While sitting in the stands waiting for the game to start, I noticed a group of guys standing off to the side of the field. But what I saw couldn't be right! They were from my class, but were wearing Air Force Uniforms! Well being a typical teenager, hanging out with "Friends", I took the opportunity to make a couple of comments that today, well lets just say I am not very proud of! But in my mind I was thinking, "How cool would it be to be wearing that uniform too." Well a few minutes later these four young men began marching onto the field carrying the flag of the United States of America and, what I would later find out to be, the Flag of the Lafayette Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. As I stood their, making stupid comments with my "friends", I couldn't help but think how awesome it would be to be them! As the kickoff came and the game began I put the four young men out of my mind. I was to busy laughing being stupid and consuming "Adult Beverages with my "Friends". Not my proudest time in life! Around half time I found myself near the Snack Bar, their I saw the four young men walking by. Well, I took the opportunity! I walked up to them, introduced myself and asked' "How can you be wearing Air Force uniforms?" Well, that's when I first heard of the Civil Air Patrol. I intently listened as they told me of all the things they did and the places they went. I was hooked! It took several months before I could join, but I spent the time rearranging schedules and out right nagging my parents. April 1986 I attended my first meeting with the understanding that I was their to decide if I really wanted to join. But I already knew that I was joining and that CAP would forever be a part of my life.
Joining CAP changed many things in my young life. It gave me confidence, strength of character, fostered a love for aviation, and gave me knowledge of leadership skills that I still use to this day. Most importantly, it introduced me to a group of people that I have forged lasting relationships and friendships. It helped me change the type of person I was and the type of people I was hanging out with. It wasn't until sometime later that I realized how important that last change was. As the years passed, some of these "Friends" dropped out of school and today some have criminal records. I even learned that some of them had stolen equipment from the chemistry lab at our high school.
Why do I share this with you? Surely not because of how "Proud" I am of who I use to be. That is a person I am glad is gone. No, its because of the pride I have in who I have become. I thank my parents for the lessons taught and the foundation that their love forged, but I thank them most for letting me join CAP. It was CAP that helped refine the lessons taught. Its CAP that continues to teach me skills and refine my character, and CAP that started me on a life of Service. For that I am eternally grateful. I continue to serve because Its my way of paying back a debt that I will never be able to re-pay!
Welcome to the Civil Air Patrol and the Lafayette Composite Squadron. I know that with hard work and determination CAP can help forge you into a person of INTEGRITY who will strive for EXCELLENCE showing RESPECT as you choose to SERVE others. I hope that you find yourself amongst our diverse volunteers and missions, and that CAP can do for you what I know it has done for me!
Lt. Col. Jude G. Poirrier, CAP