Strengthening Total Force Bonds: CAP Returns to Keesler

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trenten Walters
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Recognizable in their Airman Battle Uniforms and polished black boots, the Colonel Berta A. Edge Composite Squadron of the Mississippi Civil Air Patrol have returned to Keesler for the first time since 2018, this time with more opportunities for cadets.

CAP is a Total Force partner and auxiliary component to the Air Force that is focused on aerospace and science, technology, engineering and math education, carrying out emergency service missions and shaping future leaders through their Cadet Program.

With the help of senior members, the CAP Cadet Program focuses on developing leadership, character and aerospace education in teens 12 - 18 years old.

“We are a composite squadron, so the focus is always on helping the cadets learn, grow and gain skills as opposed to doing direct activities,” said Maj. James Samans, Colonel Berta A. Edge Squadron senior member. “But in senior squadrons, you also have more of a focus on direct contributions to emergency services and education missions.”

Previously, cadets were required sponsorship to access the base, limiting their ability to attend meetings and missing out on uniform inspections, drill movements and lessons on aviation and readiness training.

Now, cadets with the Colonel Berta A. Edge Composite Squadron can access Keesler due to more volunteers being pre-vetted, providing them the opportunity to utilize base amenities and expand their learning environment. It will also give cadets the chance to immerse themselves in the military community, connecting themselves to the operational force through volunteer opportunities, such as helping with the Keesler Airman’s Attic.

“As we get more integrated here, get better at what we can provide and get more used to the resources, there may be any number of activities where we can assist with the broader community as a total force presence,” said Samans.

While CAP is not operated as a recruiting pipeline, it attracts and cultivates talent by offering teenagers a greater insight on the opportunities and benefits the Air Force offers.

“For all of these reasons, CAP and the Air Force benefit from the Edge Squadron coming back to Keesler, and we're very glad for the spirit of hospitality and command-level support that's made it possible,” said Samans.