Semper Vigilans: Always Vigilant
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Charles Gelfand, a Fairview resident, found himself running around with the wrong crowd, “hoodlums” he called them. He added, “These boys are the ones who run the mafia today.” He knew he couldn’t be like that, he had to get out. “One day, a kid came into school wearing a uniform. His name was Hank Ehrman. He was a member of the Civil Air Patrol; they met at Floyd Bennett Field. I went over there and joined on Friday.” He said that Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was a godsend, “It made me a better person.” During his time as a cadet with CAP he flew with the National Guard, “In those days everything was wide open.” At the age of 20 he married, left CAP and raised a family. When he moved to Texas in 2008 he wanted to fly again and be a mentor to kids. He said that CAP is a great tool for character building and the experience taught him how to be successful in business. Gelfand is 79 years old and a Captain of CAP – Tx 295 Thunderbolts. He has multiple roles including Assistant Inspector General, Assistant Public Affairs Officer and he recently received his certificate for training leadership.
“Thunderbolt is a Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron (consisting of both cadet and senior members), located at the Lovejoy ISD Administrative Building in Allen, Texas. Thunderbolt Composite Squadron has a rich history. The squadron received its first charter on November 10, 1969 with the original charter number being 42295.” (thunderboltcap.org)
Squadron Activities Officer Stephanie Oliver said that there are 53 cadets and 19 senior (adult) members of the Thunderbolts. Cadets are comprised of boys and girls ages ranging from 12-18 years old. A senior member must be 19 years or older. They have members from Fairview, Allen, McKinney, Princeton, Prosper, Frisco and Plano. The cadets are a mixture of public school, private school and homeschooled students. Oliver said that people who will enjoy being a member of CAP are those interested in the military or becoming first responders.
CAP’s mission statement is, “Supporting America's communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power. “ Their motto is “Semper Vigilans” Always Vigilant.
Captain Nathan Touvell was a CAP when he was 12 years old, but he stopped after one year because he was distracted by other organizations. He always wished he had stayed involved and never forgot how great it was being a part of CAP. In 2012 he realized he wanted to give back to the community and started looking for a local CAP group to become a part of. He is the Squadron Commander which entails overseeing the squadron, character development and mentoring youth.
“As a Total Force partner and Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol is there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe.” (gocivilairpatrol.com) Touvell explains if he received a call from the group commander he would muster a team. They are prepared to search for downed aircraft. Some of the senior members are able to provide air crew. They have been utilized frequently for aerial missions including aerial photography where they search for cracks in dams, check for flooding and update maps when they locate newly built antennas.
The Thunderbolts meet every Sunday from 5:00 – 7:30pm. During their meetings, cadets gain military discipline, are trained on how to report under military customs, trained in search and rescue and much more. Upcoming events include assisting with Challenge Air (opportunity for special needs children and their families to fly in a plane at McKinney National Airport), USS Lexington overnight educational trip and attend a Rough Riders baseball game.
For more information go to thunderboltcap.org or email email@example.com.