The keynote speaker for the awards ceremony for the Pontchartrain Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol was Charles Holdeman, a Marine Corps veteran of World War II who spoke about his experiences as a member of the 23rd Regiment serving in the Pacific arena.

He said the Japanese on Iwo Jima were dug in four stories deep and shelling did not work. “Your fellows, these guys, are your brothers, your family,” he said.

The ceremony was held Oct. 28 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Harahan, with awards presented by Louisiana Wing Cmdr. Col. Thomas “Doc” Barnard and Pontchartrain Composite Squadron Cmdr. Maj. William Hunton.

Cadet Cmdr. Franchesca Giroir advanced to the rank of cadet captain, earning the milestone Amelia Earhart Award. Cadet Technical Sgt. Andrew Rodrigue was promoted to master sergeant.

Members of Pontchartrain’s color guard were presented with the National Color Guard Award ribbon, after winning the Louisiana color guard competition. Color guard members earning the award were Cadet 1st Lt. Franchesca Giroir, Cadet Airman 1st Class Mario Molina, Cadet Technical Sgt. Andrew Rodrigue and Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Garrison Garcia. First Lt. Mike Giroir earned the award as mentor to the color guard.

The Civil Air Patrol is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. As the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search-and-rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.