Reaching New Heights
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Civil Air Patrol recently chartered the Bridgewater State University Senior Squadron, giving the institution’s staff, faculty and students a chance to participate in homeland security activities and disaster relief efforts locally and across the nation.
The official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, Civil Air Patrol was established in 1941 and operates squadrons in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Bridgewater State University Senior Squadron is the only college-affiliated CAP unit in the nation.
CAP members provide emergency services support, disaster relief, search and rescue assistance, aerospace education, as well as support to cadet programs. The charter was approved in September, and on Dec. 7 a ceremony was held at BSU to officially recognize the partnership. Among the guests were state Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), Col. William H. Meskill, the Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol wing commander, Hanscom Air Force Base; and Col. Christopher J. Hayden, the northeast region commander of Civil Air Patrol, Otis Air National Guard Base.
CAP Lt. Col. Robert A. McManus serves as squadron commander. A 28-year veteran of Civil Air Patrol, he is a full-time assistant professor of education at BSU. Captain Loren G. Herren, a BSU’s chief flight instructor is deputy commander. Currently 19 members serve the squadron, including David G. Price, the associate dean of Aviation Science at Bridgewater, and Fred Clark, executive vice president & vice president for external affairs. Dr. McManus expects the membership to increase to nearly 40 by mid-January.
We recently talked with Dr. McManus about the CAP charter.
1. What does the charter mean for the university?
The addition of CAP is a positive outcome that mutually-benefits all parties. Students, faculty and staff members are afforded opportunities to participate in real-world, homeland security, and humanitarian and disaster relief activities, while serving their university, communities and nation. CAP benefits from the influx of dedicated, highly- competent individuals as well as the tremendous academic, physical and aviation resources our institution offers.
2. What about for the community?
We are able to train people in the region, as well as teach the community about aerospace education, aviation and space. We’ll be involved a lot more in community service and humanitarian efforts as well. We’re going to be both an asset to the university and the community.
3. What are the benefits of having a college-affiliated CAP?
We have valuable resources. We have planes and training capabilities for pilots and other members of the squadron. We expect students to get involved. We want students to be the face of the organization. It’s not just for aviation majors either. If they don’t want to be a pilot, there are many other things for students to do. We’re always looking for navigators, or observers, who help the pilots, aerial scanners, who photograph from the planes, information technology, administration, personnel and supply volunteers, and radio operators. I like to say that for every hour a plane is in the air, 200 hours of support make that possible.
4. Is this a turning point for aviation at BSU?
I believe it is. We’re a lot more visible on campus now. This is the best training a student can aside from an Air Force ROTC program. And, as an official extension of the Air Force, the university is now connected to the federal government in a way. When there’s need for emergency relief, or search and rescue efforts in the region we will be contacted.