Civil Air Patrol charters new squadron in Fremont County

In October, a new Civil Air Patrol squadron was chartered in Fremont County. Back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, there were active CAP squadrons in Riverton and Lander. However, when Capt Karl Falken arrived here in 2017, the nearest squadron was in Cody. He and Maj Jerry Cowles, then the squadron Commander of the Yellowstone Regional Composite Squadron, decided to form a new CAP unit for Fremont County.

The journey began with a public informational meeting was held in February 2018 at the Riverton Branch Library. The first meeting consisted of Capt Karl Falken of Riverton, then Capt Jerry Cowles, Lt Col Beverly Carlson, then C/TSgt Rebekah Pelfry of Cody, and 1st Lt Kevin Wilson (a former Spaatz Cadet) of Lander. So, the first CAP “Element” consisted of Capt Falken and 1st Lt Wilson. Guests included the Stong and Horton families which would soon join CAP.

Eve Waterman would attend the next meeting in March and would also help support the formation of the new unit from time to time. Prospective CAP members must attend three
meeting before they can submit an application, so the meetings continued the recruiting process until the meeting in May when the first local recruits joined: Cadets Nicholas Stong, Therese Stong, Timothy Stong, and Matthew Underwood. Cadet David Blackbird from the Virginia Wing also transferred to the Element via the membership in the Cody Squadron.

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The first cadet promotions were held for the three Stong Cadets and Cadet Blackbird five months after the initial informational meeting. When Lt Col Beverly Carlson and Lt Col Mike
Carlson visited the unit in September of 2018, it was already actively training the cadets for the next promotion, engaged in aerospace activities and community service. That same month, their first Cadet graduated to the U.S. Armed Service as C/Amn Matthew Underwood left to join the USMC. By the anniversary of the first meeting, the Fremont County Element had added more Cadets, achieved another promotion cycle and added its first new Senior Members, 2d Lt Joseph Stong and its first pilot, 2d Lt Steve Scott.

2019 was a year of growth, activity and maturity as the unit grew to become a formal flight and added more members, activities and programs like model rocketry. Participating in the Independence Day and Veterans Day Parades in Riverton, the Wyoming Society of the Sons of the American Revolution’s annual conference (with color guard) and the Lander Air Show gave it positive public awareness. Being the main sponsor group of the Wreaths Across America at the Mountain View Cemetery in Riverton was its first fundraising activity. Capt Kirkman Baxter, an Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator, set up an HF radio in his well-equipped radio room and gave the unit a regular presence on the CAP radio net.

2020 was another year of firsts as the flight adapted to the COVID-19 related public health
restrictions and added virtual meetings to its repertoire of meeting formats and training options. The unit continued to train, promote, and acquire essential qualifications and certifications. When it emerged from the most severe meeting restrictions, the unit was on the verge of forming a ground team and ready to charter. Supported by the new Wing Commander, Richard Fawcett, they were chartered as the Wind River Composite Squadron on October 15th, 2020, and celebrated with a chartering party.

Going forward, the newly minted squadron quickly filled the necessary officer positions for both seniors and cadets and also formed the basic committees for the squadron to function formally. New members are joining and existing members continue to train, promote, and prepares for a greater level of service to their community. The other squadron commanders in the Wyoming Wing have embraced WY-044 and supported it with generous contributions of uniforms and other needed material. The WRCS looks forward to carrying forward the great CAP traditions first established by early CAP members like Doug Thompson. A former member of the Riverton squadron, Doug used a CAP Cadet scholarship to help start his college career and later became a Fremont County Commission Chairman. Who can say what may be expected of this generation of CAP members?

h/t Capt Karl Falken for sharing the above information.

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