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Civil Air Patrol

At a recent Change of Command ceremony of the Mount St. Helens Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, the incoming commander accepts the squadron guidon from the wing vice commander. Pictured, left to right (all CAP members) are Lt. Col. Kenneth Butler, vice commander of the Washington Wing, cadet 2nd Lt. Josiah Schimmel, 1st Lt. Charles Boling (incoming squadron commander), Capt. Melissa Nading (outgoing squadron commander) and cadet 2nd Lt. Rebekah Schimmel.

The Mount St. Helens Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol recently held a Change of Command ceremony and reception.

The evening began like a typical squadron meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, greetings and announcements, with one exception — visitors who began arriving during the training portion of the meeting. Some showed up in highly decorated uniforms while others wore civilian clothing. They all were invited to the Change of Command, “a time-honored ceremony used since ancient days to mark the peaceful change of command of a unit,” according to a press release.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Butler, vice commander of the Civil Air Patrol’s Washington Wing, presided over the ceremony where the outgoing commander came forward and symbolically handed the squadron guidon to the vice commander while verbally relinquishing command. Then, the incoming commander stepped forward to accept command of the squadron.

After that, squadron members were addressed, educated and inspired, notes the press release, and the commanders discussed the state of the squadron and the plans for the future.

At the reception afterward, refreshments were served and visiting local governmental leaders and dignitaries from across the state socialized with each other and the people in attendance.

Outgoing squadron commander Capt. Melissa Nading began her four-year term during a difficult time in the squadron’s history, according to the press release. Active in emergency services and outreach programs in the past, many senior squadron members moved away or accepted state-level positions leaving the local squadron struggling to fill key positions. Nading refocused the squadron by supporting the cadet program; and by teaching leadership, character development and other skills to teen squadron members.

Incoming squadron commander, 1st Lt. Charles Boling is quoted in the press release as saying “If it weren’t for Capt. Nading, our squadron wouldn’t still be here today.”

Along with maintaining a strong cadet program, Lt. Boling wants to focus on three key issues: growing the adult side of the squadron, strengthening partnerships with other squadrons and with local organizations outside of the Civil Air Patrol, and increasing the cadet and senior member participation in Search & Rescue and other missions.

Teen cadets can learn how to pilot powered aircraft and gliders while serving side by side with adults in search and rescue and other missions, notes the press release.

The Mount St. Helens Composite Squadron is a member of the Cowlitz County Search & Rescue Council. Other members include Cowlitz SAR, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and the sheriff’s reserves, Auxiliary Communications Services, the dive team and the Department of Emergency Management.

Established in 1941, the Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization, and serves as the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, according to the press release.

The Mount St. Helens Squadron meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport, 2222 Pacific Ave., Kelso. Visitors are welcome.

For details about the CAP, including how to join, visit

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