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CAP career of Hawaii Wing's Lt. Col. Fred Staedel spans roles of saving and shaping lives

Posted on March 11, 2021 at 10:11 AM by Virginia Smith

Lt. Col. Fred Staedel teaches navigation (pre-COVID) to a museum group. 

March 11, 2021

Meet Lt. Col. Fred P. Staedel of Hawaii Wing. He is retired after a 36-year career as an educator. Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Air Force. A former cadet, he credits his time during his teens as a Civil Air Patrol cadet to his success in serving in the Air Force. He says he "fell in love" with CAP at his first cadet meeting. His CAP career also includes extensive service as a search and rescue pilot and observer, with two CAP Life Saving ribbons. He truly exhibits Civil Air Patrol's desire to "save lives" and "shape lives." His total CAP service tallies at about 23 years. Most recently, he has been shaping lives in the aerospace education mission area. "Teaching is my passion," he says. "Helping others learn is an awesome responsibility, and we teachers learn quickly that teaching facilitates the teacher’s continued learning!" A former Hawaii Wing Director of Aerospace Education (DAE) and past Chief of Staff, he still enjoys visiting schools and museums to lead youth in aerospace lessons. We asked him some questions about his life and his CAP service, and his answers follow.

Duty positions:

Past Hawaii Wing Director of Aerospace Education, past wing Chief of Staff and currently "aerospace officer at large"

How did you get involved with Civil Air Patrol?

I always wanted to be an Air Force Officer. When I was in high school, my buddy and I planned to double date, but he canceled because he had to go his Civil Air Patrol cadet meeting. I had no idea that such an organization existed. I canceled, too, and went to the meeting with him and fell in love with the program, passed him up in rank. CAP beautifully prepared me for Air Force R.O.T.C. at the University of California, Berkeley, where I became the competition drill team commander, was commissioned a 2Lt and was designated as a “Distinguished Military Graduate.” I served five years, leaving Vietnam a captain. I attribute my success in serving in the Air Force to the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program. 

Tell us about your CAP career path that led to your current role.

I served a year and a half as a cadet and twelve years with California Wing.

Some early CAP career highlights:

  • SAR pilot with three crash site finds
  • CAP Observer with 36 missions including ELT finds, body recoveries and two (2) CAP Life Saving ribbons.
  • Cadet Squadron Commander and Group Commander covering Northern California with 13 cadet units with my Group 25 headquarters housed at Travis Air Force Base

I retired from Civil Air Patrol and moved to Hawaii. At a veterans parade some 20 years later, I ran into the current Hawaii Wing Commander who turned out to be one of my past cadets who became a senior and my administration and personnel officer on my Group Staff. I was so proud of one of my past cadets making Wing C.O. He worked hard to recruit me as he needed a Wing Director of AE. He knew I was a teacher and a pilot. He was successful, and I jumped into the job ending up receiving the Pacific Region “Frank G. Brewer” Award in

Lt. Col. Staedel in his CAP uniform
Lt. Col. Fred P. Staedel has a combined 23 years in CAP.

2015 (Honorable Mention for the National Award). With the change of Wing commander, I was asked to serve as the Hawaii Wing Chief of Staff. With the resignation of the Wing C.O., I returned to Aerospace Education “on call” to our cadet squadrons teaching and facilitating AE lessons, which is now in suspension because of the pandemic, but hopefully is soon to be resumed. My total CAP service comes in at around 23 years.

Please tell us about your career and education background outside of CAP.

I was a college educator for 36 years. A received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley; Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Phoenix; and a doctorate from the Colorado Theological Seminary (ThD). 

Teaching is my passion. Helping others learn is an awesome responsibility and we teachers learn quickly that teaching facilitates the teacher’s continued learning!  I remember my mother told me that when she went to "parents night” when I was in the sixth or seventh grade that my teacher told her that Freddy should be a teacher some day. Well, I guess that teacher knew what she was talking about.

Why do you work in the Aerospace Education mission area?

I love to teach. I was a CAP senior pilot, and anything to do with flying and aerospace -- military and civilian -- is a focus for me. Most importantly, reaching youth on the importance of a strong national aerospace mission --  both military and civilian -- is of primary importance to me relative to how to currently serve the overall CAP mission. And now with the advent of the Space Force, a whole new “chapter” is available for me to add to my presentations. I use the wide variety of CAP programs available, but I also focus on teaching my own designed lesson plans and/or chapters in the AE publications. 

Tell us about the work you do externally, in the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Honolulu.

Of course with the museum closed for the past year and now beginning to reopen, I anticipate receiving renewed invitations to continue my teaching children in their classroom program for Honolulu public schools, private schools, charter schools, and home-schooled children. I have been active with this AE work for the past decade. During that time, I was able to recruit three AEMs at the museum. I teach basic dead reckoning navigation with Hawaii sectional charts to grade levels from the fifth and sixth grade through high school. At all sessions, I introduce the Civil Air Patrol cadet program and they allow me to have a CAP poster on the classroom wall. Among other subjects I also teach flight planning and the math that is required for an actual envisioned flight, the basic parts of an airplane and the physics of flight. I invented an outdoor FOD (Foreign Object Damage) activity laying out a runway with all kinds of nuts, bolts, etc. including pennies, nickels, dimes, and some quarters, which as the line of students step forward to clear the “runway” of foreign objects they are allowed to keep the coins. This creates immediate interest and enthusiasm in participating in the activity. (One quick anecdotal: we have young children from marginal income homes and after one FOD activity, I found out that three girls on their own decided to combine their few coins and give them to another young girl student that they knew came from a poor family. They were not coached, but these sixth graders decided to do this on their own. Wonderful!)

What is the best advice you have for a new AE officer working with cadets?

The best advice is twofold: Impress on the officers proper behavior around young people, and be sure that content is taught at their level. I sometimes have two lesson plans on the same subject: one designed for new and younger cadets and one for more senior cadets. 

Do you have any suggestions for how to conduct outreach in schools and museums?

Get the principal or the organization's director oriented to the program first, and then approach a teacher. For working with students, it is very important to lesson plan for the grade level and select an AE subject that would potentially have a high interest for that subject grade level.  

Do you have any suggestions for AEM retention?

Keep them busy and involved or lose them. Then as a CAP AE officer, be open to the teacher’s invitation to be a periodic guest teacher in her/his classroom. 

In addition to the story above about the students saving coins for their classmate in the FOD activity, do you have any other rewarding experiences to share?

I know what I am now about to share is not viable for all AE officers, but my wife (also a CAP 2Lt) and I decided to award $100 to cadets in our Wing who complete the academic requirements for the Billy Mitchell Award, and when the cadets receive their promotion to C/2Lt, we present them a $100 bill in a plain white envelope at the promotion ceremony with the condition it must be used for their continued training and achievement in CAP.  Under the Cadet Code they must verbally agree to this provision in front of those attending. This is designed as an incentive to continue their studies in CAP, and all unit commanders have been notified of our program ahead of time so that it can be announced at their respective units. Before the pandemic hit, we had awarded 12 cadets to date under this program. 



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