Mahwah and Ramsey residents may soon notice an addition to local parades, memorials, and other town events – a new honor guard. This one will be made up of youth members of an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.
The Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer organization for kids and adults in which members receive training in aerospace education, search and rescue, physical training and other activities. CAP cadets provide Air Force back-up on ground search missions.
The local squadron, which meets at the Law and Public Safety Institute in Mahwah, has 27 cadets – teens attending nearby high schools – and 13 senior members. A group of three cadets says its time for the squadron to get more involved in local communities.
“I wanted to start something new,” 15-year-old Mahwah High School student Flight Sgt. Matt Roberts said. “It’s a good thing for us to do, and a good way to get the squadron to be more well-known.”
To start the honor guard, Roberts teamed up with another CAP cadet, Flight Sgt. Meredith Halik, a 15-year-old Ramsey High School Student, and is working under the direction of Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Griffin Endress, a 17-year-old Ramsey High Schooler.
Endress said he feels having a CAP honor guard would mean a lot to the community.
“At parades, people want to see military units,” he said. “A parade without an honor guard really isn’t an American parade.”
At a recent memorial in Ramsy for fallen Marine Eric Christian, Endress and another cadet walked in the service.
“If we had had an honor guard then, we would have had a larger presence there,” Endress said. “I think it’d definitely be a good thing for the community to have CAP represented at ceremonies like that.
Though the cadets plan for the honor guard to perform at local events, ceremonies, and funerals, it will also be a competitive arm of the local CAP program, competing against other Civil Air Patrol squadrons from across the country.
The honor guard would be made up of two elements, a drill team unit and a color guard. The trio has already opened up the application process for fellow cadets to apply to be on the team. The group plans auditions for the six spots on the team this summer, and to start practicing in the fall.
The group is entirely new to honor guards, as one did not exist in the local CAP chapter. It’ll be using mostly Air Force manuals to train.
“It’s a challenge,” Roberts said. “I think if we work really hard for what we want, we can be competitive against other teams.”
It also plans appearances at town events in Mahwah and Ramsey throughout the summer to explain the program and ask for donations.
“We are branching out, and trying to start different recruiting efforts,” Endress said. “This is a way to get more involved in the community, and have people see CAP and get to know more about it. We hope this will help with recruiting, too.”
Get more information at the CAP Honor Guard Facebook page, or at gocivilairpatrol.com.