Categorized | Education, Featured

Civil Air Patrol cadets ready for take off

Owen Cooper, Isaac DeRego, Kawika Kekaualua and Paulina Castillo. (Photo special to Hawaii 2/7 by 1Lt Barbara Cooper, Public Affairs Officer, Civil Air Patrol - Lyman Field Composite Squadron)


High school graduation is a time of anticipation, joy and some sadness. The same feelings can be felt at the Civil Air Patrol’s Lyman Field Composite Squadron which is also getting ready to bid aloha to four of their cadets as they prepare to soar away to college.

Although all four cadets are headed to different parts of the mainland and different college careers, they have a lot in common.

They were all part of the Civil Air Patrol’s youth Cadet Program that taught them leadership skills; reinforced the core values of Integrity, Excellence, Respect, and Volunteer Service; enhanced their love of flying with Aerospace Education classes and hands-on flights in the Squadron’s Cessna 182 airplane; provided Search and Rescue training; involved them in many community service activities; and coached them into good physical shape with regular Physical Training exercises and testing. All the graduating cadets give high credit to CAP for providing them with invaluable experience for their college and scholarship applications and future endeavors.

Cadet Staff Sergeant Kawika Kekaualua, a senior at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii, is flying off to the University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

“Aviation is my passion and I can’t see myself in any other occupation” he said.

He has already learned to fly, having soloed when he was 16 years old. He only has five more hours of flight time needed to obtain his private pilots license. He gives much praise to his Flight Instructor, Terry Way, who also happens to be a volunteer senior member and pilot in the Civil Air Patrol.

“Terry made flying a reality for me,” Kekaualua said, “and is a great instructor!”

He is the son of Hidey Kekaualua, and Pualani and Bill Crawford of Keaau.

Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Paulina Castillo, a 2009 graduate of Hilo High School and current student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, has received an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.

She too has soloed with Flight Instructor Terry Way, and has recently achieved her Private Pilot’s license at the age of 18.

“I feel having the opportunity to fly and obtain my pilot’s license, along with the leadership and community service work available through CAP, gave me an advantage on my college applications” Castillo said.

Even though she hopes to fly helicopters some day, she is also looking forward to the Academy’s training on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE, a square rigger tall ship.

She is the daughter of Cecil and Nancy Lankford of Hilo.

Cadet Second Lieutenant Isaac DeRego, a senior at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii, will be taking off for Norwich University, a private military college in Northfield, Vt. on a full Navy Reserve Officer Training Course (NROTC) scholarship.

“The experiences I have had in the CAP encampments and my duties as the First Sergeant, along with the physical training, will all definitely help me with the Basic Training in ROTC,” he said.

DeRego was awarded CAP’s General Billy Mitchell award, the 2nd milestone of the Cadet Program that marks the cadet’s commissioning as a cadet officer.

DeRego is the son of John and Leslie DeRego of Puna.

Cadet Captain Owen Cooper, a senior at Waiakea High School, has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Cooper joined CAP when he was 12 years old, and spent the next six years progressing through the ranks eventually becoming the squadron’s Cadet Commander last year.

Since CAP is an official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, protocols such as their customs and courtesies, dress code and rankings are very similar to the Air Force, making the transition into the military a lot easier.

Cooper credits CAP with also providing him with many unique learning and leadership opportunities, including the encampments, search and rescue exercises, color guard presentations and special courses on the mainland.

He is the son of Paul and Barbara Cooper of Hilo.

“Watching these kids grow up, learn and mature into responsible young adults and then head-off into promising careers is one of the main reasons I volunteered to be the leader of this squadron” said Capt. Jeffrey Hartz, Commander of the Lyman Field Composite Squadron. “The Civil Air Patrol has a great Cadet Program and much credit goes to my fellow senior members who volunteer their many hours of time and labor – resulting in success stories like these graduating cadets”.

“These young men and young lady continue the tradition of Lyman Field Composite Squadron’s cadets pursuing higher education at notable universities, institutes, the Military Service Academies, and entering the Armed Services” said First Lt. Ruth Statler, the current Deputy Commander of Cadets.

Statler lists former CAP cadets have reached great heights:

* U.S. Naval Academy 2010 graduates – Ralph “Ekolu” Miller, Jason Mahuna and Wesley Jahraus
* Reservists with the Air National Guard – Aja and Jake Cornella
* UH-Hilo students: Nursing (Samuel Kimura) and English (Connor Hartz)
* University of Dallas on a full Army ROTC scholarship – Forrest Statler
* Virginia Military Institute – Barrett Statler
* Delta Airlines pilot – Bryan Shirota
* U.S. Merchant Marines Academy graduate – Jeremy Busch
* U.S. Air Force Academy graduate – Brook Carter

“All these past cadets credit their time with CAP as an important part of their achievements” Statler said. “Cadets Kekaualua, Castillo, DeRego and Cooper join the ranks of these fine former cadets. We are very proud of them and are glad that the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program was able to contribute to their success.”

The Lyman Field Composite Squadron Cadet Program is for youth ages 12 to 18 years old, and meets 5-8 p.m. every Wednesday at the CAP hangar, Hilo airport. Adults meet 6 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

For further information on the Cadet Program, as well as the Senior Program, call the hangar at 935-6927. For further information on the Civil Air Patrol, visit

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