We appreciate you taking a little time to learn more about us. This page is intended to give you some information about our squadron. We’re a small cog in the wheel that is Civil Air Patrol. If you’re looking for information on the overall organization we encourage you to visit the National Headquarters web site.
Who We Are
As our squadron name indicates we are a composite squadron. The designation of squadron type is a function of the Civil Air Patrol programs being administered and is directly related to the number and type of members in the squadron. Our squadron presently has about 40 senior members and 40 cadets.
Our senior members are involved in many different occupations; aviation, telecommunications, software development, nuclear engineering, banking, administration and more. For many, their expertise in their fields can be both directly and indirectly applicable to what we do in Civil Air Patrol. Many senior members receive training in various emergency services such as communications and air and ground search, and participate in training exercises as well as actual search missions. Others who care not to participate in emergency services assist the squadron administratively or assist with the cadet program.
Our cadets, through the Cadet Program, receive training in leadership, aerospace education and physical fitness. They also participate in a multitude of activites on both a local and a national scale, including flight encampments, drill competitions and color guard competitions.
Many of our former cadets, inspired by their participation in Civil Air Patrol have gone on to careers in aeronautical engineering, military and commercial aviation. Some of those cadets are now senior members in our squadron passing on what they know to our current cadets.
Where We Fit In
A squadron is typically the lowest command element in the Civil Air Patrol’s hierarchy. Levels of command higher in the hierarchy in order are the, Unit, Group, Wing, Region and finally, National. Shorty Powers Composite Squadron is in Group 2. Group 2 is in Illinois Wing. Illinois Wing is in the Great Lakes Region. The Great Lakes Region is one of eight regions in the Civil Air Patrol National Organization.
You may be curious about our squadron name. Originally, this squadron was named the Downers Grove Composite Squadron because it was based in Downers Grove. At about the time the squadron was formed, Colonel John “Shorty” Powers was a public affairs officer for NASA and became known as the voice of Mission Control during the Mercury Program. Col. Powers grew up in Downers Grove and when visiting his parents would also visit the squadron from time to time. The squadron wanted to pay tribute to Col. Powers, so the name of the squadron was changed to what it is now.
Where We’ve Been
Over the years the squadron’s meeting place has been in a variety of different places. What’s interesting to note is that for an aviation-related organization, the squadron has only had a meeting place at an airport twice. We are fortunate to be able to meet at an airport now, and are very grateful to the Illinois Aviation Museum for hosting us. The following table shows where we’ve been over the years.
|1961 – ?||Church in Downers Grove|
|?||Brookridge Airport, Downers Grove|
|1966 – 1986||Downers Grove North High School, Downers Grove|
|1986 – 1988||Montini Catholic High School, Lombard|
|1989 – 1990||Lincoln Center, Downers Grove|
|1991 – 1994||Naperville Central High School, Naperville|
|1995 – 2004||Naperville Emergency Operations Center, Naperville|
|2004||Safety Town Complex, Naperville|
|2004 –||Illinois Aviation Museum, Bolingbrook|
Who has led us
The squadron has had a proud cadre of leadership.
|1961 – 1 Jan 2004||Lt Col Florence Westholm|
|1 Jan 2004 – 18 Mar 2008||Lt Col Jim Bartel|
|17 Mar 2008 – 7 Apr 2011||Maj Debbie Peters|
|7 Apr 2011 – 29 Nov 2011||Capt Mike Pettinger|
|29 Nov 2011 – 22 Jun 2016||Maj Edward Danley|
|22 Jun 2016 – 29 Sep 2016||1st Lt Janet Orzech|
|29 Sep 2016 – 24 Aug 2017||Maj Edward Danley|
|24 Aug 2017 – 20 May 2018||Maj Curtis Kmiecek|
|20 May 2018 – 31 May 2022||Lt Col Gerry Baumgartner|
|31 May 2022 – Current||Maj Valerie Espinili|
What Do You Want To Know About Us?
We hope this page has given you a little insight into our squadron. If there’s anything else you would like to know, please ask us. You can ask via our Contact Us page.
Last reviewed: 31 May 2022