On 9 January 2016, in a ceremony at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, Arizona, Col Martha Morris assumed command of the Arizona Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. The setting included an L-16 Aeronca Grasshopper, painted in CAP livery on display behind the speakers, with more historic warbirds exhibited throughout the hangar.
Approximately 200 people witnessed the traditional passing of the Wing flag. With the words, "Sir, I relinquish command," outgoing Wing Commander Col Brian Ready handed the flag to Southwest Region Commander Col Mark Smith. Morris stepped forward to accept the flag from Smith and said, "Sir, I assume command." Thus began Morris' four-year term leading the Arizona Wing.
Ready praised the members of the Arizona Wing in his farewell remarks, saying, "I have never met nor worked with a finer group of volunteer professionals." He reviewed some of the accomplishments of the Wing in the past for years including:
- 10,948 total aircraft hours flown
- More than 480 Cadets have attended encampments
- Four Cadets have earned the General Carl A. Spaatz Award
- Four new Cessna aircraft added to the Arizona Wing fleet
- Six new vehicles acquired
- Outstanding grades for our 2013 and 2015 Air Force Operations Evaluations
- And an Outstanding grade for our 2013 Compliance Inspection
- A Low financial risk rating from our Annual Audits
- Fifty-seven mission finds and three mission saves
- Seven national-level awards
- Seventeen regional-level awards
- From 25th to 4th out of 52 wings in the nation for aircraft utilization
In her remarks, Morris noted that the goal for the Wing moving forward is to build on the successes of Ready and others who preceded her and "rise to an even higher level." She talked about the recent change that makes CAP part of the Total Force of the Air Force and said that this means CAP joins "active-duty, Guard and Reserve as a resource to be considered when determining the most effective and efficient ways to complete the mission." Morris also quoted Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James who praised the work of the CAP, saying, "As a strategic partner, these unpaid professionals have boldly served our nation, saving the Air Force almost 40 times the cost of using military assets."
As the CAP begins its 75th Anniversary year, Morris noted that the organization has changed dramatically. "We have evolved from our early days of mission scanners and observers who had to rely solely on their eyes during searches," she said. "Today, we equip aircrew members with high-resolution digital cameras to shoot airborne images." She mentioned several technological innovations including the use of the wing-mounted Garmin Virb cameras and one that originated in Arizona Wing – the Cell Phone Forensics Team.
"Remotely operated radios and Wi-Fi hotspots in our planes will lead to many innovations," Morris added, "improving our ability to delivery products to our customers. This will make the information we collect available immediately to agencies such as the Air Force, FEMA, Arizona Department of Emergency Management, and county disaster officials."
Looking forward, Morris said that despite the challenge it poses for a volunteer organization, "we will continue to recruit new cadets and senior members and develop strategies for keeping our current members active and engaged with meaningful tasks." She mentioned training opportunities, streamlining how people get involved in programs, and ensuring that members can have fun while performing their duties as ways to support recruiting and retention efforts.
Concluding her remarks, Morris said, "I ask all of you for your help and support in the coming months. I will do my best for this wing and will depend upon your good deeds, hard work, and friendship. Together, we will do great things – on the ground and in the sky."