Civil Air Patrol

Squadron Provides Assistance to Soldiers in Need

La Crosse, Wis. – In its day, Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) La Crosse Composite Squadron’s meeting facility served as the hub of the La Crosse Municipal Airport, receiving passengers and providing a place for others to wait for their flight. Little did its members realize that the building would serve in that role once again when approximately 120 soldiers from the Army’s 926th Engineer Battalion from Birmingham, Alabama were recently stranded for 30 hours.

The battalion’s charter flight was to fly back home after having spent two weeks of training at Fort McCoy, an Army training installation located in western Wisconsin. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication with the charter airline, no aircraft was there to meet the soldiers. Now stranded having no place to go and no way to get home, they were in need of shelter and food.

Major Duane St. Mary, commander of the CAP unit, was made aware of their plight by Mr. Mike Lubinski of Colgan Air Services, the airport’s fixed base operator (FBO). St. Mary mobilized squadron members to open the facility in order to provide shelter for the soldiers. Throughout the 30 hour stay the unit’s members provided all that the unexpected yet welcomed guests needed; shelter, cots, food and drinks to the soldiers; all in an effort to make a bad situation a little bit better.

During their stay, the soldiers had an opportunity to observe and participate in the regular cadet training as well as learn more about CAP and the work that the volunteers do on behalf of the Air Force and their country.

The effort put forth by the members was warmly received according to the battalion’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Wright, “This degree of cooperation and support is an exceptional testament to your staff and we will remember fondly our ‘sleep over’ with the Civil Air Patrol in La Crosse.”

The charter aircraft finally arrived and the very happy soldiers, anxious to get home, boarded the plane with a new understanding of CAP and thankful for its volunteers.

The unit received a Certificate of Appreciation from the battalion which read in part; “Your concern and support for your ‘fellow service members’ was an exceptional display of
cooperation and brotherhood and reflects great credit upon the La Crosse Composite Squadron, the United States Civil Air Patrol and the United States Air Force.”

St. Mary had this to say about his members “I am extremely proud of each one of you that assisted these soldiers in their time of need. This sustains my belief that we as a squadron strive to be a squadron of excellence and to be professional in our service to our community, state and nation.”

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