Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Paul Ward
Chief, Operations and Plans
Civil Air Patrol Chaplain Corps
The Civil Air Patrol Chief of Chaplains and a team of six others visited the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) from 6 to 10 February 2017 to meet with and learn about the mission and work of the USAFA Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD). Chaplain, Colonel James “Jay” Hughes led this first meeting to understand how USAFA develops character in its cadets. Along with him were his Deputy, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Charlie Sattgast; Chief of Operations and Plans, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Paul Ward; Special Assistant for IT and Rocky Mountain Region Chaplain, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey B. Williams; Advisor for Character Development, Major Jaimie Witsberger Henson; Liaison with the Air Force, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Stu Boyd, who is a graduate from USAFA and a retired USAF general officer; and Mr. Curt LaFond, Director of Cadet Programs (NHQ). The following are social media post reports from Chaplain Ward…
Monday, 6 February
On Monday, we arrived and following dinner visited the Civil Air Patrol’s Air Academy Cadet Squadron. The unit has 105 cadets who are supported by 34 senior members. It was good to interact with the senior members and cadets to see what they are accomplishing.
Tuesday, 7 February
Following a tour of the facility, the team received the “Mission Briefing” by Col. Mark Anarumo, the Permanent Professor for the United States Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD). He provided a very thorough briefing about the creation, development, and implantation of CCLD. It was here that we learned the foundation on which the program is based. While our team was in this briefing, our CAP Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (Colonel) James “Jay” Hughes was meeting with Brig. Gen. Steven Williams, the Commandant of Cadets at the USAFA. Chaplain Hughes had an earlier meeting with Col Anarumo, who was a former CAP cadet from the New Jersey Wing.
We had dinner at a fun place — “The Plane” — which is a KC-97 converted into a restaurant (http://www.theairplanerestaurant.com/). So much aviation memorabilia to see, and so little time because following dinner with the Colorado Wing Commander, Col Celeste Gamache, we were off to the Colorado Springs Cadet Squadron.
What a small world…the squadron commander’s name sounded familiar and sure enough the commander of the Colorado Springs Cadet Squadron, with 54 cadets and 23 senior members located at Peterson AFB, is Lt Col Mike McNeely. Mike was the Vandenberg Composite Squadron when I joined CAP in 1996 and was the squadron chaplain at Bob Beevers Composite Squadron. We served together at several activities including the Vandenberg AFB Air Show. He was transferred by the USAF in 2000 to other assignments during the ensuing 17 years. It was great to catch up and renew our friendship.
Wednesday, 8 February
In the morning, we received briefings from two course directors, Chief Master Sgt. (Ret) Bob Vasquez and Major Christopher Miller. “Chief” is responsible for taking the freshmen, who are called “4th degrees” from their correct rank of “Cadet Fourth Class,” through lessons on the importance of character development on a personal level in the course he teaches. Maj. Miller works with sophomores (“3rd degrees” or Cadet Third Class) on applying interpersonal character development skills. These briefings were enlightening, entertaining as well as informative.
After lunch we took a tour of the Chapel. It was a wonderful blessing to catch up with former California Wing CAP cadet, Cadet Second Class Hannah Garcia-Park, who is now a USAFA “junior” who joined us on the tour.
Our afternoon session with Tina Ezren was super. Tina facilitates the course work with Juniors (2nd degrees), which teaches how to apply character development to teamwork. We then concluded with a follow-up session with all the course directors. After dinner we visited the home and studio of aviation artist Rick Broome!
There is only word to describe our visit to Rick Broome’s home and studio….wow! He and his wife, Billie, are gracious hosts. And yes, he has the cockpit and forward part of a Boeing 727 as part of his studio. Our team had such a wonderful time visiting with the Broomes.
Thursday, 9 February
It was a beautiful day “on the hill”. Our team started to formulate a plan based on the input we received during our visit. Nicki Mench, a instructor at the USAFA Prepratory School provided us a briefing of how character development is presented “down the hill.” The USAFA is referred to as “on the hill” due to its location relative to the “Prep School.”
Yesterday, I visited the most sacred ground of the USAFA: the Chapel with its iconic spires. Today, I visited the most solemn place of the USAFA: The Honor Board Room.
Though there are meeting rooms, class rooms, offices, the building was designed around one room, the Honor Board Room, which is a windowless room with a one-way glass where proceedings can be observed but not the deliberations. The seats on the perimeter of the table are for witnesses and official observers. Actually, this building was built around one chair in that one room. When one sits in the chair at the end of the conference table, you are literally on “the hot seat”. The symbolism is overwhelming.
Throughout the building every office has large exterior windows, the classrooms and collaboration rooms are glass – yes, even the Honor Board Room with its one way glass — symbolizing transparency.
The CCLD’s most striking feature is the tower canted at a 39-degree angle in order to align with the North Star, symbolizing the academy’s “unchanging core values,” according to USAFA’s chief architect and deputy director of installations, Duane Boyle. The tower’s four sides taper to a squared-off roof containing an oculus. From inside the CCLD’s Honor Board Room, a cadet accused of violating the academy’s honor code can look up at night and see Polaris through the opening, an intimidating reminder, perhaps, of the value of a moral compass. The glass tower also serves as a majestic skylight for the CCLD’s “forum,” a large gathering space for meetings and TED Talk–style events, which is located next to the board room but doesn’t share the same alignment with Polaris.
The team, minus two who left before, took one final picture at the end of the working day in Polaris Hall, then had a working dinner at the Falcon Club to finalize some work we began today.
Tomorrow morning we will leave USAFA and work on a couple of items on our way to Denver. What a privilege it has been to serve this organization as I have been part of this great group of committed, dedicated and faithful individuals. Serving with people of this caliber of devotion to our membership is one of the best experiences in CAP and life.
(Photographs provided by Chaplain Paul Ward and Major Jaimie Witsberger Henson)