Cadet Captain Mitchell Holliday is the new Cadet Commander of the Overlake Composite Squadron, located in Redmond, Washington. Having been an active member of the Squadron for nearly five years, he is taking over command from Cadet Captain Kelly Walls. Both C/Capt. Walls and C/Capt. Holliday are decorated members of the Squadron, having attended a multitude of local and national cadet activities including Desert Eagle Flight Encampment, and the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Familiarization Course (SUPTFC). C/Capt. Walls was the advisor to the Color Guard team from Overlake that won the Washington Wing Color Guard Competition and placed second at the Pacific Region Competition earlier this year. C/Capt. Holliday earned the Air Force Association Cadet Officer of the Year Award in 2011.
C/Capt. Walls reflected, “The Civil Air Patrol and the Overlake Squadron have helped me to grow as a cadet, as a leader, and as a person. I’ve learned skills in CAP that I’ve been able to use in school, and I feel like I’ve matured much faster than others not in CAP. Thank you for all of your support, and even though at times I’ve felt that I’ve been pushed out of my normal comfort zone, it has allowed me to grow significantly. I’ve had so many opportunities through CAP that I would never have had. It’s truly been an incredible experience and I urge all of the members in this squadron and in CAP to put everything they can into this program.”
Moving forward, C/Capt. Holliday hopes to focus on increasing recruitment and retention to potentially add a new fight, to help Overlake make more of a presence in the Emergency Services and Aerospace aspects of CAP, and to help create the best leaders in Washington Wing. Having grown from 40 members to nearly 100 in the past two years, making Overlake Squadron the largest in Washington State, C/Capt. Holliday hopes to continue the growing trend in attendance.
Another key change in the Squadron’s future involves a drastic change of scenery. The rest of the summer’s meetings will be held at the Redmond Armory, the current home of 2nd Battalion 205th Regiment of the Army National Guard. C/Capt. Holliday believes that, “The new facility will provide a welcomed change in atmosphere, as well as increase the potential that we will have as a squadron. The added space and the flexibility of the National Guard [facility] has opened the door to many possibilities for expansion, whereas before we were limited.” The Overlake Squadron has been based out of the Lake Washington School District Resource Center for the past two years, and as a result has had to bring materials to every meeting instead of having a permanent location to store them. “Most importantly,” he added, “it is a place that we can call home.”
Reflecting on C/Capt. Walls’ leadership, Squadron Commander Captain Mike Holliday noted, “[she] is the prime example of a cadet taking charge, having risen through the ranks in the past five years. She started out as an Airman Basic, and stuck with the program through the difficult and challenging times, and as result was one of the most active and successful Cadet Commanders that Overlake has ever seen. Any task that was assigned to her she would complete it to the best of her ability, and would not hesitate to go above and beyond to ensure the best for her cadets.”
Keynote speaker Darcy Burner attended the Change of Command Ceremony, and is a former Civil Air Patrol cadet and received the Spaatz Award, the rank of Cadet Colonel. The Spaatz Award is the highest cadet achievement in the Civil Air Patrol, and less than 0.5% of all CAP cadets earn a Spaatz Award. Burner spoke and reminded both members of the Squadron and community in attendance “the Civil Air Patrol program is entirely self-directed. Cadets get out of the program what they put into it. Civil Air Patrol taught me leadership, followership, and how to do both with respect, which is something that I have taken with me my entire life.” Burner is a candidate for Congress in the 1st Congressional District.
During the ceremony, C/Capt. Walls was presented the Washington Wing Certificate of Appreciation for her “outstanding assistance to Civil Air Patrol at the Region/Wing level.” Colonel Ted Tax, a 50-year member of the Civil Air Patrol and the founder of the Overlake Composite Squadron presented the award. He is also the Vice Commander of the Washington Wing.
C/Capt. Walls will be attending Montana State University in the fall, and received a full ROTC Scholarship for her sophomore through senior years of studies. She plans to major in Mechanical Engineering.
C/Capt. Holliday is currently enlisted as a Reservist in the U.S. Air Force, and will attend Basic Training in the coming months. He earned his private pilot’s license last year, for glider aircraft.
“I know C/Capt. Holliday will do an excellent job in ensuring a smooth transition to the new Squadron’s location, and he will do an incredible job as the new Cadet Commander,” C/Capt. Walls said. “It’s daunting at first, being in charge of an entire squadron, but I know he’ll step up to the plate and continue to keep Overlake at the top.”
The Civil Air Patrol program is open to youth ages 12 to 17, and the Overlake Squadron meets every Tuesday evening.