Representatives of the Civil Air Patrol Pontchartrain Composite Squadron received numerous awards during the Louisiana Wing Conference held March 7 in Pineville.

The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It is a nonprofit organization that operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and 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. They play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people participating in CAP cadet programs.

The director of external aerospace education for the Louisiana Wing, Lt. Col. Kathy Beauford, received the Southwest Region Major General Jeanne Holm Aerospace Education Officer of the Year Award, a Civil Air Patrol Meritorious Service Medal and Ribbon, the Louisiana Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Aerospace Education Officer of the Year Award, and the Public Affairs Officer of the Year Award. The awards were presented by Southwest Region Commander Col. Frank A. Buethe.

First Lt. Mike Giroir was awarded a Commander’s Commendation for his aerospace education program.

Zachary Bolzan, of Caddo Parish Schools, was awarded the Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Education Award, Individual Category, and the Louisiana Wing Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year Award.

Cadet Captain Franchesca Giroir won the Louisiana Cadet of the Year Award for her excellence in Pontchartrain Composite Squadron and as Southwest Region cadet advisory representative, Louisiana Cadet Advisory Council chairperson, drug reduction cadet officer and Safety Council officer.

Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Garrison Garcia earned the M. Sgt. James LaChute Cadet Non-commissioned Officer of the Year Award.

The featured speaker at the Louisiana Wing Conference was Marine Col. Art Arceneaux, a World War II veteran who discussed his experiences as an aviator in the Pacific Theater. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest military aviation award, for his heroism during the Battle of Okinawa.