History of the Las Cruces Composite Squadron
1994 - 2022
The history of the Las Cruces Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron (SWR-NM-024) is filled with great people, having a great time, serving a great country in the best way they knew how. The success of the squadron has been on the shoulders of those who served before. This inspiration from those that have gone before and have already joined the gathering host have motivated those that still labor to keep their legacy alive. People like Bob and Libby Abbott, who ran the squadron for so many years and were named the NM Wing outstanding couple of the decade. People like Jack Weiss, Gary Martin and Deanna Cline were also instrumental in keeping the squadron going over the years.
All significant CAP missions in the southern part of New Mexico have involved the squadron and its facilities. Operations like the Felix Spade missions into Mexico, the Felix Keystone missions in the bootheel of New Mexico, the Border Patrol mission with slow scan equipment directly down-linked to the El Paso Customs office are just some of the key missions flown out of the Las Cruces International Airport (KLRU). More recent missions like the Falcon Virgo and TARs mission have depended heavily on the Las Cruces mission base and our aircrews.
Many Senior Squadron members have been involved in wing and community activities. Joe Gold was the NM wing commander and Joy Nelson the NY wing commander and NM Vice Commander along with many other members serving on wing staff. The squadron also hosted the wing conference and many officer development courses. Lou Braddi ran the glider academy for many years and even ran the regional academy from our facilities. Locally, the squadron has supported KLRU Air Show for many years and more recently the X-Cup Prize activities. They are also involved in the community helping the Balloon Fest and Whole Enchilada Festival.
The Cadets of the composite squadron are involved in becoming young leaders. Leadership training, aerospace education and PT are the core curriculum that have helped mature cadets into effective leaders in the community and beyond. Fund raisers, volunteer balloon parking, color guards and many more have made the cadets splendid ambassadors for the CAP in Las Cruces. In ’07, a team of cadets placed in the top 10 of the country in the Pete Conrad Space Initiative Competition in the International X-Cup Space Symposium.
Thanks to Senator Lee Rawson, who presented and helped appropriate state legislative funds, we have had an 80x80 ft hangar and a modular office building for ops and communications activities since 2005. Squadron members like Paul Cline, Alan Fisher, Walter Dutton, Dave Bjorsness, and many others helped get the hangar in shape. Also, a new Mobile Operations Center (MOC) has enhanced the ability of the CAP to operate at a forward base to more closely command and control missions in the field.
1994-1996: Deanna Cline
1996-1997: Bill Prestridge
1997-1998: Judy Licht
1998-2008: Alan Fisher
2008-2013: Walter Dutton
2013-2016: Brooks Hindes
2016-2018: Michelle Phillips
2019-2021: William Benziger
2021-Present: John Orton
20 active seniors
7 active cadets
Schedule of Meetings:
Senior Meetings: 1st and 3rd Thursday each month @ 1900 KLRU (Las Cruces International Airport) hangar
Cadet Meetings: Every Tuesday @ 1900 at Mayfield HS
Aircraft – N687CP, N6205H
Van – 0065
Hangar – 80’x80’
Mobile communications unit
History of Significant Activities:
Monthly Search and Rescue (SAREX) Staff and Aircrew training
Cadet O-Rides (CAP cadets / AFROTC cadets)
Summer Camp and Glider Academy
Elephant Butte Lake Patrols on Memorial, 4th of July, and Labor Day Weekends
Felix Spade/Felix Keystone (’95-’02), Falcon Virgo (’03 – ’21)
Whole Enchilada Fund raising (’98-’08)
LRU Airshow(’98-’02, 20-22), X Cup Prize (‘05 – ‘07/Pete Conrad regional award)
NM Wing Conference ’02,’09
LC Balloon Fest parking detail (cadet community service activity ‘03 – ’08)