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Tar River Squadron hosts CAP Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Casimir A. “Kaz” Barcynski.

 CGM recipient Casimir A. “Kaz” Barcynski
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Civil Air Patrol CGM recipient Casimir A. “Kaz” Barcynski presenting to Tar River Composite Squadron members (Photo credit: 2d Lt Liz Dunster, CAP) (click image to view full size)
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3/19/2015–– The Tar River Composite Squadron enjoyed a presentation by Casimir A. “Kaz” Barcynski on March 19, 2015 at the Rocky Mount - Wilson Regional Airport.  Barcynski is one of the Civil Air Patrol volunteers that served in CAP during World War II who was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal on Capitol Hill in December 2014.

Thirteen squadron members and the parent of a cadet enjoyed the presentation coordinated by 2d Lt Liz Dunster, squadron Public Affairs Officer.  Mr. Barcynski’s wife, Martha, drove through from New Bern with him to spend the evening with the squadron.
Barcynski, the son of Polish and Croatian immigrants, grew up during the Great Depression and joined a Civil Air Patrol squadron in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as a cadet in 1944.  Various family members were serving in the military during World War II and he wanted to, “do something for his country too.”  An uncle, John, had lost his life over Yokohama flying a B-29, another uncle was a POW in Germany for two years, and a third uncle was killed in action at Iwo Jima in 1945.  Barcynski describes as a cadet being, “amazed at the men who volunteered their own aircraft,” for the operations of CAP.  He remembers the drills, classes and being interested in mapping and the weather.  The orientation flight was the “thrill of a lifetime.”
Barcynski wanted to do more, however, and was determined to get into the Army Air Force. In 1945, at the age of 15, he signed his father’s name and got his girlfriend to sign for his mother.  In 1946, he was called to Kelly Field, but a month later was told that the flying program was being discontinued.  He had a short career in the AAF; he went home on leave for Christmas and returned to discover that the AAF had found that he had been under-age when enlisting, so he received an Honorable Discharge by reason of minority in January 1947.
Barcynski went on to describe his career – he feels that his experience in the early days of Civil Air Patrol, and particularly the discipline CAP instilled in him, helped prepare him for a future career in government and the defense and space industry – which spanned 42 years.  Highlights of his career include assignment to the Top Secret Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) as Systems Support Administrator responsible for negotiating all aspects of supporting equipment, amounting to over $400 million under the contract, while at RCA.   BMEWS was the US’s response to the Russian’s 1957 launch of Sputnik during the Cold War.  The program ended in 1968, and Barcynski was awarded the Secretary of Defense Certificate in Recognition of Service During the Cold War (2 September 1945 – 26 December 1991).  He spent 25 years working in the Washington DC area – and while at UNIVAC, was the Goddard Space Flight Center POC to keep 101 computers in the Apollo Program operating round the clock with systems reliability of 99.99%.   He is a recipient of the NASA Apollo XI Certificate First Lunar Landing on July 20, 1969 and also the Apollo Achievement Award for Dedicated Service to the Nation as part of the Apollo team.
Barcynski told the squadron that he felt he accepted the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of all of those who founded Civil Air Patrol and served during WWII.   It is, “not my honor, but the honor of all those who have gone before us, and continue to do so today.”  In closing he advised the cadets to, “Be true to yourself, be true to your family, true to your country and true to your Creator.”
Maj William Hess, Squadron Commander, thanked Barcynski for his presentation, and with the assistance of C/2d Lt Jarrett Moss presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the squadron.  Martha Barcynski was presented with a bouquet of flowers, the colors of the flowers representing the Civil Air Patrol, in appreciation for her support of Kaz and accompanying him to the presentation.
After the presentation, the Barcynskis enjoyed a finger supper with squadron members.  This also permitted members one on one time with Mr and Mrs Barcynski.  Barcynski had brought his replica Congressional Gold Medal, together with other artifacts from his working career and the Congressional Gold Medal event in Washington DC.  Members enjoyed looking at the various artifacts and talking to him about them.  Lt Col Linwood Barkley recognized a friend of his in one of the photographs Barcynski had, which was taken at the dinner after the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal.  Cadets were fascinated with the Congressional Gold Medal, and were delighted that Barcynski allowed them to pick it up and study it closely.
C/SMSgt James Medlin described Barcynski’s presentation as, “very interesting and compelling.”  He went on to say, “I love to hear the members of the greatest generation tell their stories, and pass them down to new blood.”  C/2d Lt Jarrett Moss added that he, “thoroughly enjoyed Kaz’s presentation and would love to hear more from other Gold Medal recipients.”
Tar River Composite Squadron meets on Thursdays from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Rocky Mount - Wilson Regional Airport.