For the first time in years, the Yellowstone Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol has a second lieutenant. At a Tuesday ceremony, Powell High School sophomore and Deaver resident Rui Parker was …
For the first time in years, the Yellowstone Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol has a second lieutenant. At a Tuesday ceremony, Powell High School sophomore and Deaver resident Rui Parker was formally pinned to the new rank.
“[I’m] proud of all that you’ve accomplished,” Lt. Col. BJ Carlson, the squadron’s commander, told Parker. “It’s been a total pleasure to have you in our squadron for the last almost four years.”
Mayor John Wetzel, who was also on hand at the Powell armory Tuesday, told Parker the honor was “pretty impressive.”
“This program … sets you up for many things going forward in the future,” Wetzel said. “I think it’s highly commendable that you’ve achieved this rank and all that it offers.”
He encouraged Parker to press on, saying the more leadership skills he learns, the better off the PHS student will be.
In becoming a second lieutenant, Parker completed the second, leadership phase of the Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program and will now enter the command phase.
In moving from an NCO (non-commissioned officer) to an officer, he’ll take on more tasks within the squadron. While he previously guided cadets one-on-one, Parker will now help lead the weekly meetings.
Carlson said she’ll welcome his help.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had someone who’s like, kick down the door to get in there and start tackling things,” she said.
Getting the promotion — formally known as the Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell Award — required Parker to pass a 50-question leadership test and a 50-question aerospace test covering topics like how an airplane works. He also had to clear a PT (physical training) test that involved pushups, curl ups, sit-and-reach and a mile run.
Even with all of his advancements, Parker noted he’s only halfway through the cadet program overall. Cadets can continue advancing all the way up until their 21st birthday — like Parker’s sister, Tasha McKelvey, who made it all the way to the top rank of cadet colonel.
For his part, Parker doesn’t think he’ll stay in the program that long, as he plans to join either the Air Force or the Navy.
“I hope to be maybe a pilot one day,” he said.
The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the Air Force, made up of aviation-minded volunteers who help with emergency missions when needed, including searches. Fitting with that aerial focus, cadets like Parker get the opportunity to help pilot an aircraft five times in their career; he has four flights under his belt so far.
Parker said he enjoys everything the Civil Air Patrol offers, including activities and the people he’s met inside the program.
“That’s definitely something that’s really kept me inside,” Parker said of the connections.
In normal years, Wyoming’s cadets attend biannual academies, where they might learn about becoming an airman or how to form a color guard.
“But since COVID showed up, we haven’t had those,” Carlson said.
However, the Yellowstone Composite Squadron has fared better than some, with groups in other parts of the country still unable to gather in groups of more than 10.
“I’m just so happy that we’re able to meet,” Carlson said.
To learn more about the Civil Air Patrol, attend a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the National Guard’s Powell armory, visit www.wywg.cap.gov or contact Carlson at 307-762-3536.