Westchester Civil Air Patrol Honors Vets With Holiday Wreath Ceremony

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CAP Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 Ceremonial detail and guests gather to lay the sponsored wreaths. Photo Credit: Contributed
Major Joe Wooley and Captain Steven Kahaner visit the St. Paul’s Church NHS Museum after the ceremony and wreath laying event. Photo Credit: Contributed
The tag on a WAA wreath placed on a veteran’s grave at St. Paul’s reads “Today, I placed a Wreath on the Grave of an American Hero”. Photo Credit: Contributed

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- Cadets and Senior Members of Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) joined Wreaths Across America to honor veterans on Dec. 14.

CAP is the official auxiliary of the US Air Force. Wreaths Across America honors the veterans buried at the nation’s cemeteries and at cemeteries around the world.

The ceremony took place at St. Paul’s Church, a national historic site in Mount Vernon that was used as a hospital during the Revolutionary War.

Veterans, retired service members and cadets travelled through the snow storm to dedicate seven ceremonial wreaths, each representing a branch of the military and one in memory of prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Members of American Legion Post 347 (Larchmont), American Legion Post 979 (Eastchester), Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2285 (Eastchester) and the Military Order of the Purple Heart (Mount Vernon) were in attendance.

After the ceremony, cadets and guests proceeded to the cemetery to lay sponsored wreaths on the graves of almost 20 veterans, whose stories were read by St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site Manager, Mr. David Osborne.

Michael Fix of Eastchester, a Vietnam veteran and member of the American Legion Post 979 said, “It is refreshing to see younger people take an interest in the military history that made America the great country that it is."

St. Paul’s Church National Historic Society Manager David Osborne said, "With the chill of winter, early sunsets, and snow drifts piling in the cemetery, it seems fitting to brighten the graves of a very deserving group of men with these wreaths.”

Public affairs office for CAP Katherine Torres said while the CAP is not a military organization, many of its cadets go on to join the military.

"The Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer non-profit organization which serves as the offical auxiliary of the United States Air Force. The cadets are aged 12-17 while senior members serve as mentors as of age 18 and above," she said.

According to Torres, CAP is active in Aerospace Education, Emergency Services (including search and rescue as well as disaster relief) and Cadet Programs where they learn and take place in rifle team exhibitions, honor guard and drill teams.

She added, "Two of our senior members are in their 40's and served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy; one was a CAP cadet as a teen. Another current member is currently serving in the U.S. Army and was a CAP cadet himself before joining the force."

Cadets get to learn how to fly and can apply for their pilot's license through CAP.

Some will be taking their orientation flights out of White Plains airport at the end of December. 

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