The ACE Basin Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, which meets weekly in Cottageville at the Methodist Church, celebrated its year end awards night and the accomplishments of its members. During this Tuesday meeting, Cadet 1st Lieutenant Nathan Mercer accepted the position of Cadet Commander during a time-honored Change of Command Ceremony.
C/1st Lt Nathan Mercer succeeds his older brother, Cadet Major Payton Mercer, as the Cadet Commander of the squadron. C/Maj Payton Mercer has served as the Cadet Commander—the first ever for ACE Basin—since April 2019. During this time period the squadron earned three consecutive Quality Cadet Unit Awards—the first time ever to earn this national award. The squadron continued to earn the Aerospace Excellence Award yearly. C/Maj Payton Mercer, who holds a pilot’s certificate and is now a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University worldwide, will move to Huntsville, Ala., in January to begin working at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. He credits the leadership and aerospace lessons he has experienced in Civil Air Patrol since age 12 with helping him reach the goals he’s been dreaming about for years.
The ACE Basin Composite Squadron has seen a decline in the number of active members who are participating on a regular basis due to two years of COVID-19 stops and starts. However, the squadron’s mission, in keeping with Civil Air Patrol’s outreach, is to reach the adults and youth of the Walterboro, Cottageville, and Summerville communities with lessons about leadership, aviation, aerospace, and military life. No members are required to have previously served in the military and no cadets are obligated to perform military service after their membership in Civil Air Patrol.
Members often get to perform unique missions in times of disaster, which locally has included performing Foreign Object Debris (FOD) walks at the Lowcountry Regional Airport following the 2020 Walterboro Tornado and performing site security at the location of the 2021 Colleton County plane crash. Anyone interested in learning more can visit the squadron’s Facebook page (@ACEBasinCAP) or its website at www.gocivilairpatrol.com.
The Civil Air Patrol is the longtime auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a valued member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS). It performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 82 lives annually.
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