Clayton resident Garrett Scott has been a member of the Johnston County cadet squadron of the North Carolina Wing of the Civil Air Patrol since the age of 12. Now a senior member, the 19-year-old is helping train a new crop of cadets to become future leaders.
Q: How did you find out about CAP?
I came to an Open House at the Johnston County Airport. They had a booth set up and I learned that they served the airport by directing traffic and guarding the planes. I’d always wanted to be in the military and seeing everyone my age in uniform drew me in. My grandfather was also in the Air Force and served in Korea so that was a bit of an influence, too. We’re the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force and founded Dec. 1, 1941.
Q: What drew you into the organization?
One of the big things CAP teaches you is to be a part of society, communicate well with people and really serve your community. Our cadet oath tells us to be of service to the community, state and nation. I take that to heart. Our world is built around service. So many kids now are so consumed with themselves and have an “I don’t care attitude”. CAP teaches you to have a can do attitude.
We have our own core values based on the Air Force: integrity, volunteer service, excellence and respect. We really do follow those principles. Our motto here is that we’ll never lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate that from those around us.
Q: Do cadets get an opportunity to learn how to fly?
Cadets get to go on orientation rides. Those are curriculum based flights where an instructor takes them in the air on a pre-planned route. They will learn how to get a plane up off the ground.
Q: How often does CAP meet?
We meet on Tuesday nights at the Johnston County Airport from 7 to 9:30 p.m. We do a curriculum based on physical fitness, aerospace education and leadership and character development. Our experienced cadets run the meetings with supervision from senior members. We have a combination of classroom instruction, weekend events and outdoor leadership team building activities.
Q: Explain some of the activities the group participates in.
We do air shows, orientation rides at our annual Open House and have a volunteer emergency services program where you can be involved in search and rescue and disaster relief missions. We prepare cadets for anything they want to do in life. Since we are under the Air Force, often times the things we get to do are military based. We’ve been to Pope Air Force base and flew C-130 simulators. Who gets to do that kind of stuff?
Q: Is CAP similar to scouting programs? Can girls participate, too?
Scouts are an all merit system where you earn patches. We’re more about teaching character development traits. We teach integrity, respect and volunteerism that will build people to be leaders in the future. There’s no discrimination in the program. Girls can also join.
Q: Are uniforms required?
We are given the privilege to wear the official government uniform of the U.S. Air Force. We follow their rules and our uniform wear is limited to only when we are acting as a member of CAP. We don’t wear them to the prom or other dances. This is like going to work. You put this on and you’re a representative of CAP. We wear the standard battle dress uniform and an Air Force style blues dress uniform.
Q: What skills have you learned by being a member?
I’ve been involved in emergency services for almost my entire cadet career. I’ve learned land navigation skills, first aid, CPR, communications, how to handle radio air traffic and working with aircraft on a flight line.
Q: How has the program changed you?
It’s prepared me to be a leader in society and not just be a follower. I want to go out and make a difference in the world. A lot of kids my age can’t think about what they want to do in life. CAP teaches you self-worth and you can succeed if you try hard enough. I plan on attending Liberty University in the fall to major in aeronautics. I would love to pursue a career in the Air Force or commercially as a pilot. I would love to fly the F-22 or A-10.
Q: You started with CAP as a cadet. Why have you chosen to now become an adult leader or senior member?
I had gone as far as a cadet captain. I chose to become a senior member because I decided I would be better off teaching cadets rather than sitting on the sidelines. I have a lot of knowledge and felt that it would be better taught rather than keeping it in. There’s a saying that the CAP is the Air Force’s best kept secret. No one really knows about us and it’s hard to get the word out. If you have a kid that’s interested in the military, this is perfect for them. It isn’t boot camp. We understand that these are kids 12 to 18 years old. We don’t practice physical discipline like other groups do. If you mess up, we don’t make you do push-ups.
Correspondent Laura Crosio