Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol teens are leaving for Africa

Yoakums take flight

July 15, 2019
Civil Air Patrol teens are leaving for Africa

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) offers youth and adults the opportunity to experience flying, participate in missions with emergency services, develop leadership skills and so much more. Here is a story of how a missionary family finds their niche in CAP.

An experience by a Civil Air Patrol cadet, Cadet Maryann Yoakum –

My uncle was in it. My brothers are in it. And now, I’m in it too.

The Civil Air Patrol has become a family tradition.

Since my parents are missionaries, my three siblings and I grew up in Togo, West Africa. So far, our family has lived in West Africa for two four-year-terms with one-year stateside assignments in-between. How did a missionary family take interest in joining an Air Force auxiliary?

My younger brother, Aidan, first learned of the Civil Air Patrol when he read the book Born to Fly written by the pilot Shane Osborne who describes his childhood growing up as a CAP cadet and his experiences as an Air Force pilot. The mention of CAP piqued Aidan’s interest and he began to do some research.  After some digging online in late 2017, he anxiously waited to the end of the four-year term so that he could take the first step in his dream to be an Air Force pilot. 

Upon our return to the United States, we visited our uncle. Uncle Cam informed us that he had actually been in the Civil Air Patrol as a teen. He went on to serve with the Air Force from 1998 to 2006. During that time, he navigated a C-130 in the Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tristan has always had an interest in the military. Ever since he was little, he would play with toy weapons and even sticks as swords, guns, and daggers. We would look out the window to see him in the backyard leading a charge against the enemy and calling in “airstrikes.” Aidan’s descriptions of CAP fit him like a glove. Despite his first aspirations to join the Marines, CAP has given him a healthy exposure to different aspects of all the military branches. Tristan can now make decisions about his future with a clearer perspective.

My first interest for joining the Civil Air Patrol was photography. I have always been passionate for all performing arts. As I was slowly exposed to CAP through my brothers, the Public Relations role caught my attention. Even though I have never been the most outgoing person in my family, my job at Chick-fil-A has caused me to appreciate social interaction on a different level. I joined CAP because I wanted to grow in areas that I would not otherwise. The Civil Air Patrol has given me the opportunity to pursue the fine arts in photography and develop poise as an individual.

At first glance, not all of us were the most likely candidates to join CAP. However, each one of us is preparing for our futures in one way or another. The Civil Air Patrol has opened countless doors to take the first step in our careers.


CAP focuses on Cadet Programs, Aerospace, and Emergency Services. It is a volunteer part of the U.S. Airforce’s Total Force.

The Cadet Program, for ages 12-18, centers around its core the values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect. They have the opportunity to become exceptional leaders and many develop a passion for flying, field medic, cybersecurity as well as many other careers that they are exposed to while serving their communities.

The Aerospace program provides many opportunities for adults and youth to experience everything from rocketry, quadcopters, astronomy to flying Cessna planes.

In Emergency Services, members train for disaster, search and rescue, and humanitarian missions. They develop skills in radio communications, first aid, and train to help our community in a state of crisis.

Youth and adults get to experience flying, participate in missions with emergency services, develop leadership skills, explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects, and so much more.

There is something for everyone from ages 12-102. Civil Air Patrol offers teens and adults with experiences that build skills while serving their community.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime 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 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 80 lives annually. CAP’s 61,000 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 26,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.

Maryann on her first orientation flight

C/Amn Yoakum preparing to fly. Photo by Capt House

Yoakum and Rice

C/Amn Yoakum and Lt Rice getting reading to fly. Photo by Capt Ilse House

Cadets learn about checklists from Lt Rice

Cadets learn about checklists from Lt Rice. Photo by Ilse House

Africa missionaries

(left to right, back to front) Trevor Yoakum, Kimberly Yoakum, Tristan Yoakum, Aidan Yoakum, and Maryann Yoakum. Photo by Maryann Yoakum (on a timer)

Yoakum Siblings in CAP uniform

(left to right) C/SrA Aidan Yoakum, C/Amn Maryann Yoakum, C/A1C Tristan Yoakum. Photo by Kimberly Yoakum.

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