Civil Air Patrol’s 25th national commander, Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, assumed command today in a time-honored ceremony in Detroit.
Phelka and the new national vice commander, Brig. Gen. Regena Aye, were sworn in during a small ceremony limited because of COVID-19 precautions.
“It is a true honor to be entrusted with this position,” Phelka said. “Civil Air Patrol has been such a huge part of my life and has given me so much, I have a strong desire to give back. I am grateful for all the messages of support and encouragement from members across our incredible organization.”
The oath was administered by retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, chair of the Board of Governors. “The Board of Governors was most impressed by Gen. Phelka’s character, his energy and his ability to clearly articulate where Civil Air Patrol needs to go in the future as an organization,” McLaughlin said.
Another member of the board, Air Force Brig. Gen. William Betts, vice commander of Continental U.S. NORAD Region-First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), said, “I am thrilled to welcome Gen. Phelka and Gen. Aye to their new roles. As the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP is integral to supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space and cyber through aerospace education.”
Phelka, the former national vice commander, succeeds Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, who led Civil Air Patrol the past four years. A resident of the Greater Detroit area, Phelka is a 34-year CAP member who previously served as national controller and commanded the Great Lakes Region and the Colorado Wing.
Aye, a resident of Osage City, Kansas, served as the first chief of Civil Air Patrol’s Education and Training Program launched in 2020. A college educator and mentor by trade, she led the development of the program’s Volunteer University, which now provides on-site and online professional development experience for CAP’s nearly 34,000 adult members. Previously, she commanded the North Central Region and the Kansas Wing.
“I was honored to be selected to join Maj. Gen. Phelka on this leadership journey,” Aye said. “I am excited for the growth and challenges ahead as well as grateful for the opportunity to serve Civil Air Patrol at the strategic level.”
Phelka and Aye are former cadets. Both earned the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, CAP’s highest cadet honor.
At the conclusion of the change of command ceremony, Phelka said, “I am proud to call myself a Civil Air Patrol volunteer and to be associated with the world’s greatest Air Force … and the world’s greatest volunteer force!”