Civil Air Patrol

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.

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