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Martinsburg Civil Air Patrol gets $50,000 grant for hangar

July 02, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A $50,000 state grant will allow the Martinsburg Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol to realize a long-held dream - to have its own permanent facility.

State Sen. John Unger announced the community partnership award Tuesday in an awards ceremony for members of the volunteer organization at the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard base south of Martinsburg.

Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, said the Martinsburg squadron was deserving of the money, given its own fundraising efforts for the hangar project and the unit's recognition as the 2008 Squadron of Distinction in the six-state Middle East Region, which includes the national capital area.

The Martinsburg squadron was the first West Virginia unit to win the award, which honors the group's cadet program.

"I asked the architect to build me a trophy case," Lt. Col. Robert Mills said of the honor.

Mills later said he didn't know how he could thank Unger enough for helping the organization get the money to complete the hangar that now is in "shell" form. With the grant, Mills expected the project could be completed by the end of the year.

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"This is a huge amount of money for us," Mills said after the awards program, which recognized Capt. Gary Gourley and cadets David F. Hill IV, Mark Guiney, Jennifer Kroening, Christopher Frey and Jonah Rock.

The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. CAP volunteers perform 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions assigned by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. It also performs homeland security, disaster relief and counter drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.

The $50,000 grant appears to re-enforce the state's financial support of the 12 squadrons in West Virginia, said Jeffery Schrock, state Wing public affairs officer.

Of the nation's 52 Civil Air Patrol Wings, West Virginia's received the third highest amount of state appropriations in 2007, Schrock said.

"They've really come through with funding to help our units," Schrock said of previous support from lawmakers and the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission.

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