Eyes on the Home Skies: C/2d Lt Jenna Horn
To start from the beginning of my Civil Air Patrol experience is to start too late. Both of my parents were in CAP when they were teenagers. In the beginning, it was CAP that introduced my dad to flying. After getting his Spaatz award and graduating from college, he flew for Pan-Am airlines until he joined the Air Force.
My mother didn’t join the military until she and my father married years after college. She knew the Air Force song better than any other song because it is what my dad listened to while getting dressed in his uniform every morning. Eventually she joined after having my siblings.
My dad was relocated from Texas to Colorado Springs and my mother was relocated with him. My father was active duty while my mother was reserve, so she could still take care of her children.
Over time, there were the usual military life–deployments, promotions, and a relocation back to Texas. My father retired from 30+ years of service as an Air Force Colonel flying the B-52 Stratofortress. My mother is an Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel at the medical unit at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas with 20+ years of service.
Ellington Field is where my journey with Civil Air Patrol began. Ellington Composite Squadron, TX-098, was where I joined on September 26th, 2013, a few months after I’d turned twelve. I joined the squadron as someone who was incredibly introverted, shy, poor at communication, and who kept to herself because she was scared of anything she didn’t know.
But I joined with an open mind (and with my mother saying over my shoulder that she met her husband at CAP!), and enjoyed how I was accepted into the makeshift family. It was hectic, there was a lot of down time because of it, but there wasn’t any judgement.
When I joined, I didn’t care for Civil Air Patrol as it was, I cared for the environment that surrounded it–structured and formal yet comfortable and encouraging.
Over time, I began to care for Civil Air Patrol as a whole–the aerospace lessons, moral leadership, drill, emergency services, and even the physical fitness tests (though not as much as the others). My main interest became focused on leadership and drill.
I’ve made a few good friends and one great friend at Ellington, multiple friends are at the military academies–two at the Coast Guard Academy, one at the Air Force Academy, and one at West Point, along with a few others who are currently serving.
I went to TX Wing Summer Encampment 2015 at Camp Bowie and have recently staffed TX Wing Winter Encampment 2019 with other cadets I met at my basic. In my CAP career, I began as a new cadet and became an element leader, after becoming more confident in my drill, I hesitantly became a flight sergeant and more confidently became a flight commander. I have seen leadership I admire, and other leadership I don’t admire.
I have been through lesson after lesson on Bernoulli’s Principle, and what it means to lead morally. While watching others lead, I was given the opportunity to lead. I enjoyed teaching my flight drill and unity. I grew to have my own principles in leadership–a leader should be able to use the strengths of the individuals to the team’s advantage and help strengthen each individual's weaknesses, as well as a leader cannot lead others if they cannot lead themselves.
Around my junior and senior years in High School, I suffered from moderate to severe depression. I pulled out of Civil Air Patrol because what was expected of me and what I could offer weren’t similar. I didn’t want there to be any chance my attitude would affect where I call a second home.
I knew it was expected that I remain flight commander and eventually become cadet commander, but I could not give my all to the organization. Periodically, I would go watch a meeting and catch up with those I knew, check in on the squadron, and watch them flourish.
Every time I went back, I felt the same open arms I felt when I first joined five years before. In May of my senior year, I went back to give a graduation invite to my best friend there. I’d gotten much better and told him that I’d see him next week, and I kept telling him that all summer.
I saw myself off to college at Texas A&M in College Station, and joined the squadron here, George H. W. Bush Composite Squadron, TX-041. I’d come to college as a part of the College of Engineering in hopes of becoming a Mechanical Engineer.
I wrote up a semester by semester schedule for myself and saw that I had extra time for a minor or certificate. Looking through the lists of options, two stood out–the Leadership Study and Development Certificate and the Military Studies Minor, which had classes that coincided with each other and other required classes, causing them to be a total of 22 extra hours.
While I am worried about what is to come while I’m in college and getting ready for after graduation, and while I may be busy with class work and research, I always have time for Civil Air Patrol. Life becomes a balance of personal time, social time, and work, it’s joked that you can only have two (if you’re lucky).
I’ve learned that CAP has a rightful spot in my life as I count it as social and personal time–social as I’m with people I care for and personal as I don’t find stress there, it takes my mind away from the inevitable work due the next day and it keeps me mentally fit to continue strenuous physics for four hours on a white board.
Most have stories similar in some aspects but different in others, this story is mine. One story is never enough to gain a good understanding of something, but it’s a start.
If you are someone interested in aerospace, leadership, the military—join Civil Air Patrol for those reasons.
If you are someone who wants to find a second home or somewhere that will allow you any opportunity you could imagine, join for that reason."
For More Information:
1st Lt Laura Simpson, CAP
TX-041 Public Affairs