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Middle East Region and NC Wing Conduct Joint Annual Conference

MER-NCWG Conference
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CAP National Commander and National Vice Commander Attend the Event

3/28/2012––More than 200 Civil Air Patrol members representing the seven states comprising the Middle East Region (MER) descended upon the North Raleigh Hilton on Friday, March 23, 2012. Billed as the first ever joint conference co-sponsored by the MER and the North Carolina Wing (NCWG), members attending the Saturday morning session took part in a general assembly followed by the presentation of service awards and recognition of individuals and CAP units within the region.

The weekend was organized by Col. Larry Ragland, MER Commander and the commander of the NC Wing, Col Roy Douglass.
Former Wing Commanders attending were, Col. Ralph Vogt and Col. Larry Trick from MDWG, Col. Don Edwards and Col. Harold “Tink” Schaeffer from NCWG.
Also recognized were the members of the region and NCWG staff who have done the yeoman’s work to make the conference possible: Lt. Col. Lucy Davis, NCWG, Lt. Col. Jay Langley, MER, Lt. Col. Jeff Willis,  MER, and Capt. Kathy Gaddy, NCWG. Active members from Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia participated in the proceedings.
The NC Wing received the Paul Turner Safety Award. This is the third consecutive year that the NCWG has won this award from the Middle East Region. 
MER Wing Commanders attending were: 
Col. Ziggy Bernfeld of Delaware Wing
Col. John Knowles of Maryland Wing
Col. Rich Cooper of the National Capitol Wing
Col. Roy Douglass of the North Carolina Wing
Lt Col Francis Smith, SCWG/CV [Col. Jay Lindler SCWG/CC absent due to medical issues]
Col. Dave Carter Commander of the Virginia Wing
Col. Denny Barron, Commander of the West Virginia Wing
In addition, the former commanders of Middle East Region who were in attendance included: Col. Charles Glass, and Col. David Ellsworth. 
Col. Rick Moseley, MER Vice Commander, served as master-of-ceremonies, and he opened the general assembly with the introduction of special guests. Following welcome messages from Col. Ragland and Col. Douglass, the keynote speakers for the session were Brig Gen Joseph Vazquez, National Vice Commander, and Mr. John Salvador, the Assistant Executive Director of CAP, who highlighted the status and  current strengths of the organization. They stated that CAP now operates 550 aircraft, 960 motor vehicles, 4,675 mobile radios, and CAP expects to purchase 19 replacement aircraft and 127 replacement vehicles during FY 2012.
Also in attendance were Mr. Frank Jirik, the National HQ Director of Safety and Col. Warren Vest, the National Finance Officer.
Lt. Col. Kevin Hubbard, USAF, presented an overview of the current and future status the Air Force and CAP (CAP-USAF). He stated that due to significant budget constraints, the Air Force is discontinuing the program of including state directors to the wing structure of CAP. Continued coordination between CAP Wings and the USAF will be maintained by a reduced team of Assistant Directors of Operations (ADO) serving on a national basis rather than filling the current 38 state directorships wing by wing. Lt. Col. Hubbard stressed that CAP-USAF was cutting positions…NOT people.
A sizeable block of time was allotted to the awards ceremony. The Exceptional Service Award was presented to six members. A grand total of 24 meritorious service awards and 15 commander’s commendations were presented as well as numerous other individual awards. A master listing of all awards will be published in a separate article.
Attending the conference for the first time was CAP’s recently elected National Commander, Maj. Gen. Charles L. Carr. Also in attendance was Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Vazquez, National Vice Commander and former MER Commander, in addition past national commanders included: the former National Commander of Civil Air Patrol, Maj. Gen. Eugene Harwell, who is a former Commander of North Carolina Wing; National Commander of Civil Air Patrol, Maj. Gen. Dwight Wheless, who is a former commander of the NC Wing.
The afternoon session saw members attending a variety of seminars that included learning labs on Emergency Services, Operations, Safety, Aerospace Education, Homeland Security/Counter Drug, Cadet Programs, Information Technology, Communications, Logistics, Public Affairs, MER Commander’s Call and Professional Development.
At 7:00 p.m. the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom was the scene of the region’s annual banquet. Col. Moseley served as MC, and the featured speaker of the evening was Brig. Gen. D. Todd Kelly, Assistant Adjutant General for Air, NC National Guard. Gen. Kelly, a highly decorated command pilot, spoke about the Guard’s past, present and future mission for our state.
Col. Douglass commented on the historical significance of this conference. “The logistics involved in planning and coordinating this event were staggering. But the end result was a comprehensive, invaluable learning experience for all involved, including our wing and region staffs to the newly-minted cadets attending,” he said.
At the conclusion of the evening, Col. Ragland offered his special thanks to the NC Wing administrative team, in particular, Lt. Col. Lucy Davis, Lt. Col. Andy Wiggs and Capt. Kathy Gaddy for providing the input that made this joint conference a truly memorable and successful event.