SHOW OF SUPPORT – Weakley County Mayor Houston Patrick (right) was on hand in support of Lt. Sylvia Mallard of Martin being named as the Civil Air Patrol unit’s first commander during a chartering ceremony held at the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport
Northwest Tennessee has a new Civil Air Patrol unit in place, and already the unit has a new commander, 17 members and five cadets. A formal chartering ceremony was held Saturday morning at the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport, where about 30 people packed into the terminal’s conference room.
It was in the crowded conference room that Col. Barry Melton, commander of the Tennessee Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, conducted the ceremony and welcomed 1st Lt. Sylvia Mallard of Martin as the unit’s first commander.
With a broad smile, she looked out over the audience and announced, “We’ve worked hard.” With that statement, 1st Lt. Mallard took over managing local Civil Air Patrol unit 195.
In all, every speaker at the ceremony voiced their excitement about the formation of the new Civil Air Patrol unit. Emcee and Maj. Gary Pickens said in opening remarks during the program that the new unit will have a “positive impact on the airport … and the community.”
Airport manager Jo Ann Speer described Saturday’s chartering ceremony as “an exciting occasion.”
She is one of the 17 charter members of the composite unit. A composite unit accepts membership from adults and youth, as young as 12 years old.
“We’re fortunate to have a wonderful airport and a wonderful community to serve,” Speer said.
She was joined at the ceremony by Dr. Chris Gooch and local businessman David James. Both are pilots and are active members of the airport commission.
Gooch, who currently serves as chairman of the commission, updated the crowd on some of the airport’s projects.
In addition to the formation of the new Civil Air Patrol unit, the airport is also involved in the extension of its runway. Once the new runway extension is completed in the next few months, Everett-Stewart Regional Airport will have one of the longest runways in the region, he said.
Gooch said the airport will host a “big shindig” when the runway extension is completed.
On Saturday, though, the spotlight belonged to the new Civil Air Patrol unit, which will actually serve Obion and Weakley counties.
“There’s going to be a lot of activity up here really soon,” Maj. Booth Outlan said.
He is the Group IV commander for the Civil Air Patrol, and he explained the local unit will be actively involved in spring training exercises beginning in April.
One of the primary missions of the Civil Air Patrol program is to provide emergency services during times of disaster, and the local Civil Air Patrol unit is located closest to the New Madrid Fault Zone.
“It’s a strategic location for us,” Melton said. “That’s important that we have a quality unit on the front line.”
He praised the strong turnout for Saturday’s ceremony.
“We’re here to serve the community,” said Melton, who formally presented the unit’s new charter to 1st. Lt. Mallard and conducted the swearing-in ceremony for her installation as the new commander of the unit.
Although she admitted being very nervous in front of the packed conference room, 1st Lt. Mallard did say, “I think we’ve done very well so far getting this unit started.”
“Well, this indeed has been a great day so far,” Pickens said at the conclusion of the ceremony.
From there, refreshments were serve and the mood shifted to a more informal gathering. During the afternoon, the state Civil Air Patrol officials met privately with local officials and with the new local Civil Air Patrol members to discuss future plans.
In becoming the first commander of the local Civil Air Patrol unit, 1st. Lt. Mallard is joining her husband as a commander of a local Civil Air Patrol unit. He is the commander of unit 218 in Fulton. She said it was her husband who first introduced her to the Civil Air Patrol. They got married about three years ago.
When asked about whether she has relied on him to prepare her to lead the local unit, she smiled and admitted she has attended classes and done some Internet research during the past couple of months, but she added, “actually, I’ve just kind of winged it.”
Editor’s note: Kevin Bowden is a staff reporter for the Union City Daily Messenger.