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Giving Back

Giving Back

By Maj. Bill Edwards, CAP
 

When I was two years old my father was killed when his Air Force C-133 went down off the coast of Japan. Soon after my mother relocated my sister and myself to Akron, OH.

Growing up during the height of the Vietnam War and the economic collapse of the tire and rubber industry in Akron, the future didn't seem to hold much promise for a poor kid living in the "Projects".

One day a friend of my sister mentions something called the Civil Air Patrol. Knowing my passion for aviation and the Air Force, he suggested that I look into it. This was in the days before Google or the Internet so the search took several months before I finally located the local squadron. 

The day I attended my first meeting of the "Akron Flying Eagles Squadron" changed my life forever. 

I had found an amazing collection of cadets and seniors that didn't care if I lived in the projects, for the first time in my young life I was just like everyone else. I had the same opportunities as all the other cadets and the chance to finally focus on my dreams of someday becoming a pilot and following in my fathers footsteps by joining the Air Force. 

My life was suddenly filled with wonderful new experiences and opportunities. I went places and did things I never could have dreamed possible. I accomplished things I didn't think I could do, and most importantly, I developed friendships that endure to this day. 

The Akron Flying Eagle Squadron was commanded by a gentleman by the name of Robert Doerr. Maj. Doerr didn't have any children that I know of, he didn't have any family members that were members of Civil Air Patrol, and he was just a pilot that had a desire to share his passion for flying with the youth of the community. His dedication to the Akron Flying Eagle Squadron was even more special when you consider that it was the height of a very unpopular war and our squadron often met on the Kent State University campus, the site of the infamous "Kent State Massacre". It was Maj. Doerr, and those Commanders that followed him, who gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. 

I owe a huge debt to Maj. Doerr and the cadets and seniors of the Akron Flying Eagle Squadron, for they helped shape my life. They guided me through my rebellious teenage years and taught me the meaning of respect, duty and honor. If not for those very special people I have no doubt that I would not have escaped the dismal fate of a young kid growing up in the projects. 

Today I am surrounded by another amazing group of cadets and senior members that are helping to shape the lives of yet another generation of Civil Air Patrol Cadets. I am honored to be a part of that group and I will always remember the debt I owe to those remarkable CAP members that changed my life. 

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