(Clockwise, from bottom left) U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Joseph Ehredt, Navy/Air Force Section chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Panama, makes a point during the CAP National Headquarters briefing as the Panamanian delegation -- Maj. Yuri Emerik Nunez of the National Frontier Force, Lt. Col. Manuel Angel Vence Reyes of the National Aero-Space Service, Lt. Col. Ramon Roca Escobar and Col. Manual Muy Zapateiro of the National Police, Col. Alfredo Callejas Concepcion of the National Frontier Force, Col. Luis Eduardo Ruiz Estribi of Panama's National Aeronaval Service – and CAP’s national commander, Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr; national vice commander, Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Vazquez; and assistant executive director, John Salvador; and CAP-USAF’s commander and vice commander, U.S. Air Force Cols. Paul Gloyd and Jerry Updegraff, all listen.
Gathering for a photo in front of CAP National Headquarters are (from left) t. Col. Manuel Angel Vence Reyes, Maj. Yuri Emerik Nunez, Col. Manual Muy Zapateiro, Col. Alfredo Callejas Concepcion, U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Gloyd, Col. Luis Eduardo Ruiz Estribi, Lt. Col. Ramon Roca Escobar and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Joseph Ehredt.
Photos by Susan Schneider, National Headquarters
NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS -- Panamanian officials visiting Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., made a stop at Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters for pointers on the possibility of establishing a volunteer civilian pilot organization in their country.
The six-member delegation from their nation's security forces was visiting Maxwell for a look at the U.S. Air Force's Officer Training School, with the goal of incorporating elements of its officer education program into a Panamanian equivalent. During their visit to the air base, which is home to National Headquarters, they also expressed interest in the way CAP operates.
Top CAP officials responded by setting up a briefing for the six, complete with a PowerPoint presentation, translated into Spanish, covering the organization's creation, 71-year history and congressionally mandated core missions – emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.
Col. Luis Eduardo Ruiz Estribi of Panama's National Aeronaval Service was especially interested in CAP's operations and in the possibility of establishing a Panamanian version of the organization, having been impressed by a comparable civilian air operation set up in Chile in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck that South American nation Feb. 27, 2010.
At that time, Ruiz said through an interpreter, Chile "didn't have anything comparable to CAP ... but it stood up something similar after the earthquake."
Joining Ruiz for the Maxwell visit were:
- Col. Manual Muy Zapateiro and Lt. Col. Ramon Roca Escobar of the National Police.
- Col. Alfredo Callejas Concepcion and Maj. Yuri Emerik Nunez of the National Frontier Force.
- Lt. Col. Manuel Angel Vence Reyes of the National Aero-Space Service.
Accompanying them as interpreter was U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Joseph Ehredt, Navy/Air Force Section chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Panama.
On hand for the briefing were CAP's national commander, Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr; national vice commander, Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Vazquez; assistant executive director, John Salvador; and general counsel, Rafael Robles, as well as Air Force Cols. Paul Gloyd, CAP-USAF commander, and Jerry Updegraff, vice commander.
For the briefing, most of the translation duties were handled by Air Force Capt. Juan Araoz, who noted that he had been a CAP cadet during high school in the late 1990s in Dade County, Fla. That experience, Araoz told the gathering, taught "me a lot of what it was to be in uniform, and customs and courtesies ... to be that citizen that (leaders) wanted me to be."
During the briefing, Araoz consulted frequently with the CAP and CAP-USAF officials to expand on points made during the presentation and to answer the Panamanian officers' questions.
Ruiz expressed particular interest in figures related to CAP's search and rescue operations and to its counterdrug missions. He also asked his hosts for their ideas on the top three steps needed in starting a CAP equivalent in another country.
Referring to CAP's founding a week before the U.S. entered World War II, Vazquez told him that "the first step is to organize a group of pilots - civilian pilots who are willing to volunteer their time to support their country."
Second, he said, "create an organization and have a law that they can operate under to assist the government ... and that provides the framework and the organization."
Third comes "providing resources, so that they don't have to use their own aircraft" in assisting the government and the public, Vazquez said.
Ruiz told the CAP officials, "right now we have the people" interested in providing service. "We need political support, and we're moving on the right track."
As for securing government support for such an operation, Carr reminded him, "It never hurts to take a politician up in a small aircraft" so that they can experience the thrill of flight. He also emphasized the importance of making sure political leaders realize that such an operation will "save your government a lot of money and serve as a force multiplier."
"The vision's there; they see it's needed," Araoz said. "They're basically got to put it on paper and convince their country that it's needed and that it'll work."