By Tristan Brooks
A select few members of the Snider student body are actually members of the “US Air Force’s best kept secret”, Civil Air Patrol.
The CAP was started in 1941, 6 days prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as a way for people not eligible to join the military to assist in the war effort. The CAP’s mission has adapted over time, and instead of adults watching the coasts for German submarines, it’s now 12-18 year old Cadets learning about aviation and participating in Search and Rescue missions.
In reality, CAP isn’t a secret the Air Force wants to keep. Fort Wayne has its own CAP Squadron, aptly named the Fort Wayne Composite Squadron. The Squadron’s cadets, numbering at about 40, are being led by Cadet Major (C/Maj) Emmalie Sipe and Captain Anthony Vining, the CAP Commander.
Over this past December, the Fort Wayne Composite Squadron participated in something much bigger and arguably more important — Wreaths Across America.
WAA was started by a family-owned wreath company in Maine who had an excess of wreaths one Christmas. They figured, why not use those wreaths instead of throwing them away? So instead, they went and placed wreaths on the graves of veterans in Arlington National Cemetery where thousands of those who payed the ultimate price in service to the United States of America are laid to rest every year.
The program has grown significantly since its conception, now serving cemeteries all across the country by placing millions of wreaths every year. In fact, on the WAA website, they say that they are currently serving 2100 cemeteries all across the country.
The Fort Wayne Composite Squadron, and many other CAP Squadrons across the country, has partnered with WAA and now volunteers annually to get the word out and place the wreaths in Fort Wayne cemeteries. In 2020, a now infamous year, the event was much smaller than previously. There was no ceremony and very few people, but the wreaths still got placed.