State Vaccination Levels Benefit CAP
(Rapid City)—South Dakota’s milestone of 50% of the eligible population completing vaccination means ramping-up training and service programs for Civil Air Patrol in South Dakota (South Dakota Wing).
“During the worst of the pandemic, CAP has been careful to comply with all required precautions,” said Col. Nick Gengler, South Dakota Wing commander. “That has resulted in limits in how we serve South Dakota and how effectively we can train. It has also been difficult for prospective members to witness the full range of our service to the state.”
Gengler observed that the continual improvement in South Dakota’s COVID numbers means CAP is returning to larger face-to-face training events and activities. Members in the eight CAP units across the state have been meeting online, or in small gatherings only, in compliance with CDC and CAP guidelines. The improved numbers in South Dakota, Gengler said, means the return to larger face-to-face meeting and more hands-on training.
Gengler said that also means squadrons and flights in Sioux Falls, Tea, Brookings, Pierre, Miller, Rapid City, Spearfish, and Custer can now invite the public in, if they are interested in joining CAP. Meeting time and place information is at: https://sdwg.cap.gov/command/squadrons
CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, with responsibilities that are part of the USAF’s support civil authorities to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance. South Dakota Wing, with over 400 members, can deploy its six aircraft, ground teams and small search drones to assist in emergency response and other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies.
“Our annual South Dakota Wing Conference, June 12 in Mitchell, is an example of the benefits of personal interaction and face-to-face group training,” said Lt. Col. Craig Goodrich, South Dakota Wing vice commander. “We’ll have a wide range of seminars and workshops about CAP’s operational missions, our youth program, aerospace education, and organizational management. These sessions work much better in-person.”
The recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15 year-olds also benefits South Dakota Wing’s youth program, known as the “cadet program,” which challenges and develops young leaders, starting at age 12. The state vaccination numbers also help ensure that the joint North and South Dakota cadet program encampment, to be held at Camp Rapid in July, can proceed as planned.