July 24, 2015 --
His passion for more than half a century has been mentoring and teaching young Civil Air Patrol cadets how to become better citizens.
Lt. Col. James Card, assistant director of communications and licensing officer, Georgia Wing CAP, has not missed attending CAP basic encampment training in 54 years.
He continues to attend the encampments for one reason - the cadets, according to Card.
“I like helping the young kids to better their lives,” Card said. “I've seen many cadets over the years come through program who have come from broken homes and have unstable lives. I have seen this program keep them out jail.”
Of the three CAP’s missions - aerospace program, emergency services and cadet programs - Card said his favorite is the cadet program.
Card is responsible for coordinating billeting, food and cost requirements for the Georgia Wing CAP encampments.
This is the fourth year the Georgia Wing CAP has conducted its weeklong summer encampment at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
Card began his CAP career in 1958 and attended his first basic encampment training in 1961 in Loring Air Force Base, Maine.
“The basic encampment in 1961 was more like basic training,” he said. “The cadets get a little taste of basic training on the first day, but then they (also receive) classes on aerospace education, military drill and ceremonies and leadership throughout the encampment.”
In 1963, Card enlisted in the Air Force as an aircraft mechanic. After serving 20 years, he retired in 1983 as a master sergeant.
Throughout his enlisted Air Force career, Card simultaneously held the position of an active-duty airman in the Air Force and an officer in CAP.
Because of the unique situation, “I could walk down the street as a lieutenant or captain back then, go to my room and change shirts, then walk back down the same street as a master sergeant and it (would) be perfectly legal,” he said.
Card, who was promoted to his current CAP rank in 1987, encouraged individuals to consider joining the CAP.
“Join, stay and achieve a better life,” he said. “This is a great program and it will keep you on the right track as long as you put your heart into it.”
During his 56-year CAP career, Card served in a variety of positions in Maine, Florida, Georgia, California and New York as well as overseas.
One of his notable assignments was serving as the squadron commander for the Feltwell Cadet Squadron in Lakenheath, England, from 1977-1979.