MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Maj. Jacob Bixler moved around the conference table checking in with each cadet as they settled into their workstations; drinks and snacks within arms-reach of their laptops.
The cadets from the CAP’s Winchester Composite Squadron were about to begin round one of the CyberPatriot Competition. Bixler, a full-time cyber security professional, mentored the cadets through the summer to prepare them for the nation-wide competition created by the Air Force Association.
Bixler has volunteered his time with the Civil Air Patrol since 2005 and is now the Wing Director of Cadet Programs for Virginia Wing, supporting 24 units throughout the state.
He also serves as a radio frequency transmissions systems craftsman for the 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard.
He is a Citizen-Airman.
“The Civil Air Patrol are the auxiliary of the Air Force. We’re all civilians. We’re all volunteers and many of us share the same passion in wanting to serve our community, state and nation,” Bixler said.
The Civil Air Patrol was founded, Dec. 1, 1941 - just days before the United States fully entered World War II - to mobilize civilian aviation resources for national defense. The citizen Airmen volunteered their time providing an array of flying services from courier duties to missing aircraft searches, aircraft warning and forest patrols. The CAP’s vital support to the war effort solidified its future and it was established as a non-combatant auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force in 1948.
The CAP continues as a force multiplier today, providing communities with emergency response, aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power.
“For me personally, the CAP and Air Guard go hand in hand,” Bixler said. “When I look back at any state active duty or state support we have done from the National Guard perspective, CAP was always there, too.”
Bixler cited the World Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia and Hurricane Florence recovery support in North Carolina as recent examples of the ANG and CAP working together.
There are numerous examples of the WVANG and West Virginia Wing CAP working together, from State Partnership Program events to orientation flights. That partnership is likely to expand as West Virginia Assistant Adjutant General-Air, Brig. Gen. Christopher Walker, has listed WVANG and WV Wing CAP integration among his priorities.
Bixler said he joined CAP after middle school to expand his horizons. “I joined as a cadet and it really helped me understand self-discipline, confidence, and things like that, that are really continuing to benefit me today,” he said. “I really value putting time into these cadets now so that they can transform.”
Bixler said his experiences in CAP and ANG have been complimentary, having been able to develop different skill sets with each organization that translate to the other.
“You get out of something what you put into it and I am very thankful and humbled for the opportunities afforded to me by the ANG and CAP.”