Jerry Mayer resigns as Civil Air Patrol commander
The upcoming resignation of Jerry Mayer as Civil Air Patrol commander has placed the future of the Roughrider Composite Squadron in question. "Within the next two weeks, I'm resigning as commander of the squadron. I think it's time for somebody e...
The upcoming resignation of Jerry Mayer as Civil Air Patrol commander has placed the future of the Roughrider Composite Squadron in question.
"Within the next two weeks, I'm resigning as commander of the squadron. I think it's time for somebody else to step up to the plate. I think change is good," he said.
"Unless somebody volunteers, it may be closing. We cannot find anybody. I've been looking," he added.
"The squadron will deactivate until somebody would be responsible. Being commander, a person is willing to be responsible for the equipment, aircraft and vans. Unless somebody is willing to do that, the equipment and vans go back," he said.
Mayer works full time as director of Dickinson's Sunrise Youth Bureau, and is a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant. When he moved back to Dickinson in 2000, he was asked to become commander.
"I actually started in the spring of 2002. It's been five years. I think it's somebody else's turn," he said.
Mayer said the Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It's three-fold missions are aerospace education, the cadet youth program and search and rescue missions.
"Nobody gets paid. We operate through donations. The plane and vans and equipment are from the Air Force, but the day-to-day expenses are strictly the squadron's responsibility," he said.
Mayer pointed to several accomplishments over his five-year tenure.
"When I first took over, we had seven or eight cadets and a few pilots. We were separate entites, so we combined to make one squadron," he said.
"We didn't have an aircraft consigned to Dickinson. I'm most proud to get an airplane (Cessina 182) for southwestern North Dakota. We have the ability to fly when needed," he said.
By working with the Dickinson Airport Authority and its board, the squadron has its own facility at the airport.
"We can call it our own. It's one thing we really worked hard to get," he said.
The program also received a second van to transport cadets to state-wide training opportunities.
During his tenure, the program has grown to 22 cadets and about 15 officers and pilots.
"We're not turning anybody away. We're still looking for recruits and getting kids involved," he said. "We usually have about 50 percent male and 50 percent female."
"I'm proud of the fact we've grown. A lot of kids are involved. It's all due to volunteers and people willing to help out and make it a success," he said.
Over the last five years, he said the squadron has completed four or five search-and-rescue missions and located one individual who was deceased.
"We've done a lot of community events and flag ceremonies. Those things are important as well," he said.
The squadron meets every Tuesday night. The officers meet once a month, but the commander is responsible for the equipment and monthly reporting, he said.
"I think we need some new leadership just to change things around and to have different ideas," he said. "It would be nice to have a military background, but it's not necessary."
"We've really come a long way in five years. Without somebody to take over the reins, it will be tough. Other squadrons have closed. That's what happened to Williston. Will it happen here? I don't know," he said.
The squadron met Tuesday with North Dakota Wing Director of Administration Darrel Pittman, Bismarck.
"He's (Mayer) done a tremendous job since taking over. I hate to lose him, but it's time for somebody to take over and give him a bit of rest," said Pittman. "We really need somebody to step forward; otherwise with no leader, we have no squadron."
Without a commander, Pittman said he will shift the plane and equipment to a squadron in the wing.
"We have another squadron trying to form in the state right now, but we'd like to leave the equipment here," he said.
Pittman worries about the impact of the squadron's closure on cadets.
"The cadets are the future of our country. We need leadership to help them train into responsible adults," he said.
For more information contact Mayer at 483-7154 or 290-6730. Additional information about the program is available on the Web site: www.cap.gov or the state Web site: www.ndcap.org