By Marcia Moran
The Omaha Composite Squadron enjoyed their 5th annual Dining Out on December 1, 2014. Appropriately, this was also the birthday for the Civil Air Patrol. The event was held at the beautifully decorated Arbor Hall in Omaha. Though the night outside was quite chilly, the inside was warm and inviting. All who attended witnessed an evening of promotions, awards, good comradery, and “Mr. Grog”.
The guest speaker for the evening was USAF Brigadier General Richard Evans III. He is the Deputy Commander, Joint Functional Component for Global Strike, US Strategic Command, Offutt AFB. Other honored guests representing the Civil Air Patrol include Colonel Robert Todd (Commander, North Central Region), Colonel Darrell Nelson (Commander, Nebraska Wing), Lieutenant Colonel Darrell McMillan (Vice Commander, Nebraska Wing). The Omaha Composite Squadron command staff for the evening includes Colonel Robert McCartney, USAF (Ret) as the President of the Mess, and C/Major Austin Henry as the Vice President of the Mess, “Mr. Vice”.
The evening started with the presentation of the colors by the OCS Honor Guard, followed by USAF SMSgt Jimmy Weber singing the National Anthem while playing his acoustic guitar. Beautiful!
Colonel McCartney then gave a heartfelt welcome speech. This was followed by the chef’s presentation of Le Boeuf to the head table, then the priming of Mr. Grog. This was a feat in itself as Mr. Grog is a toilet in which one must pay homage to should there be a “rule breaker” among the group!
Dinner was then served buffet style and included rolls, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken and beef, as well as delicious desserts of brownies, cupcakes and cookies. There was plenty to go around and no one should have left hungry! The chefs at Arbor Hall did an outstanding job proving such a meal.
The POW/MIA table was recognized at this time. It is a very symbolic reflection, as it represents those that are missing, and reminds us to never forget.
Brigadier General Richard Evans then gave a powerful speech, which included a lot of Nebraska history, the Air National Guard, the USAF Reserve, and how they all tie into the beliefs and structure of the Civil Air Patrol.
After his speech, Brigadier General Evans, Colonel Todd, Colonel Nelson, Lieutenant Colonel McMillan, and Colonel McCartney helped hand out greatly deserved awards and promotions. A huge congratulation goes out to all the recipients. They are:
- Aerospace Officer of the Year – 1st Lt Eric Perquin
- Cadet Aerospace Officer of the Year – C/LtCol Christopher Pineda
- Cadet Officer of the Year – C/LtCol Christopher Pineda
- Cadet NCO of the Year – C/TSgt Elizabeth Nelson
- Junior Cadet of the Year – C/SrA Catrionna Garrett
- Most improved Cadet – C/TSgt Matthew Johnson
- Senior Member of the year – Maj John Pineda
- Pumping Heart Award – C/Maj Austin Henry (fastest mile!)
- Ancient Order of the Lightning Rod – C/SrA Cory Sieler (Tallest Cadet)
- On Time Award – 1st Lt Alan Goldfarb
- Gill Robb Wilson Award – Colonel McCartney
The following received Squadron Commander’s Commendations:
- SM Laura Cejka – Administrative Officer
- C/CMSgt McKenna Kruegar
- C/Maj Austin Henry
- C/Maj Matthew Norrie
The following received promotions:
- C/2dLt Ethan Copple, also received the Billy Mitchell Milestone Award
- C/SSgt Catrionna Garrett, also received the Wright Brothers Milestone Award
- C/A1C Brandon Marquez
- C/TSgt Matthew Johnson
Following the awards and promotions was the Change of Command between Colonel McCartney and Capt David Lewis. In this brief ceremony, Colonel McCartney, with his hands on the squadron flag, tells the Wing Commander, “I relinquish command”.
He then steps aside and Capt Lewis, with his hands on the squadron flag, tells the wing commander “I assume command”.
The Omaha Composite Squadron welcomes Capt Lewis as their new commander, but also takes the time to recognize Colonel McCartney for the enormous efforts and endless hours as Squadron Commander. He was awarded a plaque on behalf of the squadron and was also remembered in an amazing video marking a year in review of the Omaha Composite Squadron.
The Dining Out celebrated many milestones and gave everyone an opportunity to dress up and wear their best of uniforms. A great time was had by all, as it was an evening to recognize and celebrate all the accomplishments of 2014. We can only imagine what 2015 brings to the Omaha Composite Squadron!