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Mercer named new cadet commander for ACE Basin Civil Air Patrol Squadron

by | April 26, 2019 5:00 pm

Last Updated: April 24, 2019 at 10:03 am

The ACE Basin Composite Squadron installed a cadet commander for the first time since its re-charter in 2016 — a sign that the local Civil Air Patrol squadron is gaining ground in its mission to expose the students of Colleton County to leadership opportunities, STEM principles, free flying and scholarships for flight training and for college.
The new cadet commander, Cadet 1st Lieutenant Payton Mercer, has been a member of Civil Air Patrol for five years in May. At 17, he holds a pilot’s license and will graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Dual Enrollment program on May 4 — four weeks before his high school graduation. Civil Air Patrol has been a huge part of Mercer’s development throughout his high school career.
“Civil Air Patrol has given me opportunities I would not have had without this program,” he said. “From serving on two FEMA missions in the state of South Carolina to the scholarships I have received through Civil Air Patrol — I would not have had these experiences without the CAP pro-gram.”
After being installed as the cadet commander during the meeting on Tuesday April 16, Mercer addressed the cadet formation. He explained to the cadets (and prospective cadets) that at one time, he stood in their shoes — at the same rank they are, with the same little bit of experience they have. He encouraged them that with an open mind and a teachable attitude, he was sure they, too, would be able to have some really fantastic experiences through Civil Air Patrol.
Civil Air Patrol’s STEM mission offers its squadrons 15 different STEM kits to learn with — including one for model aeronautics, an sUAS (drone), a rocketry kit, computer programming kit, and more. The ACE Basin squadron owns several of these kits and uses them in the monthly aerospace education meeting. Another mission for Civil Air Patrol involves emergency services, and as cadet commander Mercer explained to the group, cadets and senior members can be called up-on at all hours of the day or night to perform search missions or disaster relief missions. He has been called to a search mission once and has been able to serve on two disaster relief missions. Lastly, the Cadet Program is the third piece to the propeller in the Civil Air Patrol mission. While many cadets seek a military career, many do not — and Civil Air Patrol is still for them. CAP teaches speaking skills, helps cadets gain confidence, and teaches them how to follow as well as how to lead.
Civil Air Patrol is a great program for youth ages 12+. Students must join before their 18th birthday — doing so enables them to remain in the program until age 21. Those who join CAP after turning 18 are automatically enrolled in the Senior Member program.
The ACE Basin Composite Squadron meets on Tuesday nights 6 p.m.-8 p.m. The location is 72 Salley Ackerman Dr., Cottageville, behind the town hall building. Prospective cadets must attend three meetings and are eligible to complete their membership paperwork on the third visit. Senior members, who are adults 18 and over, are eligible for membership upon completing the required paperwork and completing the background checks. For more information about the ACE Basin Composite Squadron, contact Capt Jim Wilson, CAP, at (843) 343-7086, or

Civil Air Patrol, the long-time all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 per-cent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Co-ordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.


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