Civil Air Patrol

Leaping Past 5,000: Operation Pulse Lift Reaches Goal Two Months Early

On July 27, 2021, Desiree Edwards of Pinetop, Arizona, donated the 5,000th unit of blood collected in Arizona Wing’s Operation Pulse Lift mission during an emergency blood donor center hosted by Show Low Composite Squadron.

The morning began with a base of 4,956 units of blood collected under Operation Pulse Lift, the COVID-19-related mission that began in April 2020. By the end of the day, the count had gone to 5,007 units, surpassing the goal originally set for the end of Civil Air Patrol’s fiscal year on September 30, 2021.

Show Low and Falcon Composite Squadrons both hosted blood donation efforts on Tuesday and, according to incident commander Lt. Col. Bob Ditch, were “neck and neck throughout the day in blood collections.”

Desiree Edwards of Pinetop, Arizona, was the 5000th donor in Civil Air Patrol’s Operation Pulse Lift mission. She donated blood on July 27 at a blood donation center sponsored by Show Low Composite Squadron.

This was the Show Low Squadron’s seventh COVID-19 blood donor center event. The squadron went on to support the collection of 25 units, while the blood donation center at Falcon added 24 more units to the total. Show Low Squadron hosted its eighth blood donor center on July 28, yielding 20 additional units. With personal donations reported by Civil Air Patrol members, that brought the weekly total at CAP-sponsored blood drives to 69 units and the overall mission total to 5,047.

Since it began, Operation Pulse Lift has supported 95 blood donor center events in five states, collecting enough blood to potentially save 15,141 lives during the COVID-19 pandemic response. In addition to the blood donated at these CAP-sponsored events, members from the across the organization have reported independent blood donations to be added to the total.

A little more than a year ago, on July 31, 2020, Operation Pulse Lift celebrated the donation of the 500th unit of blood.

Jason Benedict, Donor Services Executive for the Red Cross Arizona and New Mexico Region, praised the work being done through Operation Pulse Lift. “Please know that you all are doing something here that is extremely extraordinary! While we work with many blood sponsors throughout the country and are grateful for each and every one of them, it is different when you have an organization who has made it their personal mission, “Operation Pulse Lift,” to answer the need in the way that you all have,” Benedict said.

Ditch was quick to note that even though the 5,000-unit goal was reached, Operation Pulse Lift will continue, with eight blood donor centers scheduled in Mesa, Show Low, Sierra Vista, and Tucson before the end of September. The current need for blood donations is critical as the Red Cross has only a one-day supply of blood on its shelves.

Wing Conference Registration Now Open

Arizona Wing will hold an in-person wing conference September 24-26 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Arizona. Registration is now open for senior members and cadets at this site.

The conference begins Friday evening with a social mixer (senior members only). The Saturday morning general session will include the latest information from a national, regional and wing perspective. Maj. Gen. Ed Phelka, the new Civil Air Patrol CEO and National Commander, has been invited to attend along with the new Southwest Region Commander (and former Arizona Wing Commander) Col. Martha Morris. Arizona Wing Commander Col. Rob Pinckard will give his “state of the wing” remarks and present some awards.

The general session will be followed by functional breakout sessions including operations, mission support, cadet programs and aerospace education. A separate program track designed by and for cadets will feature additional breakout sessions. More details on the agenda will be released soon.

On Saturday afternoon, we’re bringing back the sUAS Flying Competition that first occurred at the 2019 wing conference. Cadets and senior members may fly their personal drones in the competition.

Saturday evening is the conference banquet with presentation of the “of the year” and other major awards. An invitation is pending with the guest speaker and that will be announced as soon as it’s confirmed.

Sunday morning is a Commander’s Call for Arizona Wing unit commanders.

After last year’s virtual conference, this will be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet some people you’ve only seen on Zoom or Teams over the past 16 months. Register now and save the dates. This is an event you don’t want to miss.

Rooms are available at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino at the guaranteed conference rate of $109/night for a standard room or $199/night for a suite (plus applicable taxes) through August 27th. Attendees may call the hotel reservations department at 520-796-4900 and mention “Civil Air Patrol AZ Wing Conference” to receive the group room rate.

Guests will provide their own credit card number to hold their reservation at the time of booking. Any modifications or additional reservations after the August 27th cutoff date are subject to availability.

Critical Need for Blood Donors

The American Red Cross reports that its blood reserves are at critical levels, with only a one-day supply. To encourage donations, until the end of July, donors will receive a $10 Amazon e-gift card from the Red Cross and be entered in a drawing to win gas for a year (a $5,000 value).

Arizona Wing’s Operation Pulse Lift is responding by adding an emergency blood donation center on Tuesday, July 27, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Falcon Composite Squadron in Mesa. Visit and use sponsor code CAP to schedule an appointment to donate. If you are unable to participate in the Falcon blood drive, find a location and time convenient for you using that same website.

If you donate at a non-CAP-sponsored Red Cross site, email to have your donation count toward the Operation Pulse Lift total. Nearly 4,700 units of blood were donated at CAP-sponsored blood drives as of July 18, as this long-running COVID-19 mission aims to reach 5,000 units donated by September 30.

Arizona Wing’s Sian Proctor Trains for Space Mission

Maj. (Dr.) Sian Proctor, a member of Sky Harbor Composite Squadron, is spending her summer training as the pilot for a mid-September flight to space on the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission. Geologist, explorer, South Mountain Community College professor, former CAP cadet and current aerospace education officer, Proctor’s story is all about dreams coming true.

Read the full story of Proctor’s journey from cadet to astronaut on

Col. Brian Ready Selected to Serve on CAP Board of Governors

Col. Brian Ready will serve as a member of the Civil Air Patrol Board of Governors.

Former Arizona Wing Commander Col. Brian Ready has been selected to serve on the Civil Air Patrol Board of Governors. Since completing his four-year term as wing commander in 2016, Ready has served as vice-commander (west) for Southwest Region and also on the national level as a member of CAP’s Information Technology Steering Committee.

Ready, who lives in Phoenix, was chosen June 25 by the CAP Senior Advisory Group to succeed Col. Dale Newell as an at-large member of the board. Ready’s term begins Aug. 28.

“All I have ever wanted to do in CAP is give back to our members and make a difference,” Ready said. “There is no greater calling than to be part of the team that develops the vision and future for the organization you serve. In CAP, the Board of Governors is that team.”

Ready said CAP’s volunteers are “the best in the country.”

“I am grateful for this opportunity to support them,” he added. “They are the best group of volunteers I have ever had the honor to be associated with. … I’m also thankful to be able to help the youth of today who will be our leaders of tomorrow.”

Ready’s new leadership role will be as a member of CAP’s top governing body. The Board of Governors generates strategic policies, plans and programs designed to guide and support the volunteer service of the organization’s eight regions and 52 wings.

The Board of Governors consists of four U.S. Air Force appointees, three members appointed jointly by the secretary of the Air Force and CAP’s national commander, and four members-at-large selected by the CAP Senior Advisory Group (CSAG). CAP’s national commander, national vice commander, executive officer and eight region commanders serve as voting members on the CSAG.

Read more of the Headquarters announcement.

Col. Martha Morris Named Southwest Region Commander

Col. Martha C. Morris, Southwest Region director of operations and former Arizona Wing commander, has been selected as the next commander of the Southwest Region.

Morris accepted the appointment by Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP national commander, and will succeed Col. Joe Smith, who has led the Southwest Region since August 2017. The change of command is expected to take place in late August.

Maj. Gen.-select Ed Phelka, national vice commander, who becomes national commander Aug. 26, led the selection committee.

“I have seen Col. Morris in action as a very talented and highly capable leader,” Phelka said. “Under her leadership, I am certain that Southwest Region will continue to excel.”

A 39-year member of Civil Air Patrol, Morris also serves at the national level as chair of CAP’s Uniform Committee.
Morris began her CAP service in 1981 as a check pilot with the Falcon Composite Squadron in Mesa, Arizona. Her early years in CAP were focused on mission check pilot and standardization and evaluation assignments.

Morris served as wing director of operations and commander of the Arizona Wing Operations Support Group before assuming command of the wing in January 2016.

“When I first joined CAP in 1981, both my squadron commander and the commander in Rocky Mountain Region were women, so I imagined my future in CAP was wide open,” Morris said.

“One area that I will focus on as region commander is recruiting and retention,” she added. “I am hoping to encourage members who left CAP during the pandemic to return, making sure that our organization is welcoming and inclusive.

Morris has received numerous awards, including the Del Rubi Leader/Mentor Award presented by the CAP-U.S. Air Force Southwest Liaison Region, Distinguished Service Award, Exceptional Service Award, Meritorious Service Award with four clasps, Unit Citation, Commanders Commendation with six clasps, and Aircrew Find award with propeller for finding two downed aircraft during search and rescue missions.

In 2020, she was selected to represent CAP on the Women in Aviation Advisory Board, which advises the Federal Aviation Administration on opportunities for women to pursue a career in aviation.

Morris is qualified in multiple emergency services positions, including incident commander, air operations branch director and operations section chief. In addition to aircrew qualifications as mission pilot, observer and scanner, she is a member of the Arizona Wing’s ground team. She holds ratings in six specialty tracks, including Master ratings in Command, Operations and Standardization and Evaluation.

Certified by the FAA as an airline transport pilot, Morris flies the Airbus 320/321 as a captain for JetBlue Airways. She also is a qualified check pilot for powered aircraft and gliders and a certified flight instructor for single- and multi-engine and instrument airplanes. She has totaled more than 22,000 flight hours.

Before joining JetBlue in 2011, Morris was the chief pilot for Hensley Budweiser in Phoenix for 15 years.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 1985, Morris earned a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 2002.

Two Cadets Honored as Spaatz Award Recipients

Cadet Colonel Weiss O’Connor (left) and Cadet Colonel Viet Zaengle were honored as Spaatz Award recipients during a ceremony at Arizona National Guard Headquarters on June 17, 2021.

Two Arizona Wing cadets were honored during a ceremony at Arizona National Guard headquarters on June 17. Cadet Col. Weiss O’Connor, Deer Valley Composite Squadron, and Cadet Col. Viet Zaengle, Willie Composite Squadron, received their Spaatz Award certificates from Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck, Adjutant General of Arizona and director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. The Spaatz Award is Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet honor and recipients are promoted to the grade of cadet colonel.

O’Connor is a 2021 graduate of Boulder Creek High School in Anthem. He is a member of Deer Valley Composite Squadron in Phoenix. He joined CAP in 2016 and became the cadet commander at Deer Valley in February 2020. He has served on the Cadet Advisory Council at the squadron, wing, regional, and national levels. In 2020, he was selected to attend the Civic Leadership Academy in Washington, DC. At Boulder Creek High School, O’Connor played in the concert and marching bands and was co-captain of the soccer team. Earlier this year, he was named the 2020 Arizona Wing Cadet of the Year. On June 23, he will report to Colorado Springs as a member of the class of 2025 at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Zaengle joined CAP in 2016 and currently serves as the cadet commander for his squadron. He just completed his junior year at Hamilton High School in Chandler, where he also holds the grade of major in the Junior ROTC and is a member of the choir and cross-country team. He also is an Eagle Scout. A recipient of the 2021 Air Force Chief of Staff Private Pilot scholarship program, Zaengle currently is attending a flight academy at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott where he will earn his private pilot certificate and six college credits.

Muehlenbeck spoke about Civil Air Patrol as part of the Total Force, a designation that came six years ago. “The National Guard is ‘always ready, always there’ and then I look at the Civil Air Patrol’s mission, which is ‘always vigilant,’ and we see you and we use your resources and we partner with you in the context of civil support during emergencies,” Muehlenbeck said. “I think we take for granted that you are always vigilant, you’re always prepared, you’re always there.”

Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck, Adjutant General of Arizona and director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs presented Spaatz Award certificates to two Arizona Wing cadets during the ceremony

She described some of the missions the Arizona Wing has undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as flying National Guard members across the state to scout areas for vaccination and testing sites, transporting personal protective equipment, and volunteering at mass vaccination sites.

“It always amazes me when organizations continue to do their mission, and at the same time, they pivot and they give more,” Muehlenbeck said. “In the time of this pandemic, Civil Air Patrol did exactly what we needed them to do in the context of supporting the community – its regular mission, but then, of course, pivoting to take on this new mission as well.”

“Working with cadets, watching them develop their leadership skills, seeing them choose to continue to serve as CAP volunteers as Colonels O’Connor and Zaengle are doing – it just doesn’t get much better than that,” said Arizona Wing Commander Col. Rob Pinckard. “CAP cadets like these two give me hope for the future of our country.”

On average, only 0.5% of CAP cadets earn the Spaatz Award. It is presented to cadets who have demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, fitness, and aerospace education. Cadets qualify for this prestigious award after devoting an average of five years to progress through 16 achievements in the CAP Cadet Program.  Along the way, they develop self-discipline, a strong sense of personal responsibility, the ability to lead and persuade, and the foundations necessary for pursuing a career in aviation, space, or technology.

The final step a cadet must complete to earn the Spaatz Award is a rigorous four-part exam consisting of a challenging physical fitness test, an essay exam testing their moral reasoning, a comprehensive written exam on leadership, and a comprehensive written exam on aerospace education. Upon passing the Spaatz Award exams, the cadet is promoted to the grade of cadet colonel.

AZ Wing Enters Phase III of COVID-19 Remobilization

Arizona Wing entered phase III of COVID-19 remobilization on June 7, 2021.

In an email to unit commanders, Arizona Wing Commander Col. Rob Pinckard said, “even now, remember that COVID-19 remains lethal” and reinforced the need to continue complying with current guidelines.

The most recent (June 1, 2021) CAP guidelines concerning masking and other public health measures are as follows:

a. Fully vaccinated members will no longer be required to wear masks indoors or outdoors while at CAP activities, assuming there are no more restrictive state/local/tribal/territorial guidelines for the locality.

b. Unvaccinated members, including all cadets who have not yet been fully vaccinated, will be required to wear masks, practice social distancing, and continue all other public health measures recommended by the CDC or state/local/tribal/territorial public health entity for the locality.

c. Health services officers, safety officers, or a commander’s designee will continue regular health screenings. CAP meetings should include a briefing of the wing’s current remobilization phase and associated guidance/restrictions, as well as any applicable state/local/tribal/territorial guidelines and facility-specific rules.

Additionally, members attending in-person activities will be informed of these guidelines that apply to vaccinated members. Rather than inquiring about individuals’ vaccination status, unit leaders will emphasize that members should abide by CAP’s core values by acting with integrity and following the guidance appropriate to their status.

Phelka Named National Commander/CEO

Brig. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, Civil Air Patrol’s national vice commander since 2017, is getting yet another promotion — the biggest of his 34 years of service in the U.S. Air Force auxiliary.

On Friday, CAP’s Board of Governors selected Phelka to be Civil Air Patrol’s next national commander and CEO. He will assume command Aug. 26 in a ceremony with Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, current national commander/CEO.

“I am very pleased that the Board of Governors selected Gen. Phelka as CAP’s next CEO and national commander,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, the board’s chair. “Gen. Phelka brings a vast amount of practical knowledge of all aspects of CAP since he has served as both a cadet and senior member, plus he has proven leadership experience at all levels. He is an inspirational leader, trusted and respected by CAP members, and has all the talents necessary to successfully lead CAP into the future.”

As national vice commander, Phelka serves as a member of the CAP Command Council, which also consists of the national commander, eight region commanders and 52 wing commanders, plus the national executive officer, chief operating officer and the commander of CAP-USAF. He has advised Smith as well as the Board of Governors on operational and policy issues, which over the past year included taking a leadership role in the organization’s COVID-19 practices and remobilization efforts.

“I have found Gen. Phelka to be an extraordinarily talented servant leader, one who is humble and truly focused on our people as well as our great organization,” Smith said. “Under his capable leadership he will take CAP to new heights of excellence.”

After being notified of his latest promotion, Phelka said, “As a former cadet, I have experienced the full range of opportunities Civil Air Patrol has to offer. It is a true privilege to be selected to serve in the role of national commander/CEO. “I look forward to working together with the Board of Governors, the dedicated staff, our Air Force partners and our incredible volunteers to lead Civil Air Patrol into the future.” 

Read the full announcement regarding Phelka’s selection on

Arizona Wing Members Honored as Lifesaving Heroes

(L-R) Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, Destiny Bain, 1st Lt. Kelli Hammit, and Maj. Randy Hammit speak after the Silver Medal of Valor ceremony.

The Civil Air Patrol honored two Arizona Wing members on May 20, the one-year anniversary of an active shooter incident at Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, Arizona. Maj. Randy Hammit and 1st Lt. Kelli Hammit provided lifesaving first aid to two teenagers who were wounded during the incident. National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith presented the Silver Medal of Valor to the Hammits, members of the 388th Composite Squadron in Glendale, during an evening ceremony at the Gila River Arena.

The guest of honor at the ceremony was Destiny Bain, one of the teenagers who the Hammits cared for after she was shot. Paramedics were not allowed on the scene until it was secured by police so the Hammits administered first aid to Bain and her friend, Armando Jaime, for about 20 minutes until EMTs took over. Bain was shot in her lower leg and Jaime was shot in the chest.

Lt. Hammit, a registered nurse for more than 30 years, has stayed in touch with Bain and her mother, Kathie, since the incident. Seeing each other before the ceremony for the first time in a year was an emotional moment for the survivor and her rescuers.

During the ceremony, Bain thanked the Hammits for their help. “When I was on the ground begging and pleading for help, they were the only people that came to help me,” a tearful Bain told the gathering. “Nobody else did anything but stop and stare at me or get out their phones to record.

During an emotional reunion before the medal presentation ceremony, 1st Lt. Kelli Hammit (right) hugs Destiny Bain, the victim in a live shooter incident who received lifesaving first aid from Hammit and her husband, Maj. Randy Hammit.

“To know that the shooter was still out there, but all they could think about was to stop the bleeding in my leg, that meant a lot to me. To have you there and to know that I wasn’t alone, fighting by myself … and that you stayed there until the ambulance took me away, I couldn’t stop thinking about you.

“We shared a traumatic moment together … one that we’ll never forget. It’s imprinted on our lives and we’ll always have that memory.”

CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith first met the Hammits when they joined New Mexico Wing where he served as wing commander.

“The Hammits are good people and they do what needs to be done,” Smith said. “Randy and Kelli ran into harm’s way knowing that they were placing their lives at risk, and they did what needed to be done.

“And you did it in a manner that makes all of us proud,” he told them. “I’m very proud of you and pleased to consider you as friends.”

CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith described the evening’s honorees as good people who did what needed to done despite putting their own lives at risk.

Arizona Wing Commander Col. Rob Pinckard told the audience that he wanted them to understand that the Silver Medal of Valor is “a big deal. This is the highest decoration a Civil Air Patrol member can receive.

“In my 20 years in the service of the Civil Air Patrol, this is the first time I’ve seen a Silver Medal of Valor presented,” Pinckard said, “and tonight I get to see it twice.”

The Silver Medal of Valor recognizes “distinguished and conspicuous heroic action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of normal duty.” The honor has been awarded fewer than 150 times since it was established in 1960.

The recording of the YouTube livestream of the ceremony is available here.

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