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Lt Col Bill Duke

Posted on July 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Joanna Lee

It is with tremendous sorrow that we announce the passing of one of our own, Lt Col Bill Duke.        

Lt Col Duke was a steadfast CAP member for 37 years.  His dedication, commitment and service to our community, state and nation will be sorely missed.  The Maryland Wing is a strong close-knit family, and the loss of one of our own is never easy, we ask that each of you support each other during this tremendously difficult time.   Lt Col Duke will be greatly missed but his legacy will always continue. We extend our deepest sympathy and our hearts go out to the family, friends, and fellow members of Lt Col Duke, the impacts, mentorship and the contributions he has left to our organization will always be remembered.     

In 2011 Lt Col Duke was recognized with the John V. “Jack” Sorensen National Cadet Programs Officer of the Year; Capt Urena from our public affairs community had this to say of Lt Col Duke after an interview with him soon after he learned he earned that award:

Lt Col Duke has been active in the CAP cadet program since joining Maryland Wing in the fall of 1978. Within that first year he was the commander of a new squadron, which earned the 1979 Maryland Wing Squadron of the Year award, took his first drill team to the wing and the region competition, and became active in CAP’s emergency services program as a ground team leader.

“One of things that drew me to CAP was the hands-on learning that enables cadets to learn via cadet-led activities, especially those that ‘did not do well,’ that they would not have learned nearly as well from classroom instruction,” said Lt. Col. Bill Duke about his reasons for joining the organization.

For many years, Lt. Col. Duke was heavily involved with the Maryland Wing drill team and color guards, personally training and coaching these teams as they prepared for the Middle East Region Cadet Competition. Duke would create the innovative drill routines and patiently teach the maneuvers to the team, a process that requires countless hours and many months to prepare for a region level competition. Due to his efforts, within a ten year period, the drill team won this competition seven times and represented Maryland and the region at the national level competition.

Duke continued to be active in the cadet competitions through his leadership in running the Maryland Wing Cadet Competition, as a staff member at the Middle East Region Cadet Competition, where he proctored the written examination and served as scorekeeper, and helping with the exams and panel quiz questions for the National Cadet Competition.

“The cadet-led team work and developmental experience for the cadets in the drill team that first year got me hooked on the cadet competition process and I have participated in them as much as I physically could ever since,” stated Duke about working with the drill team. “Quite a few of the drill team cadets have gone on to earn the Spaatz Award , including one who became the Maryland Wing Interim Wing Commander,” continued Lt. Col. Duke.

The Maryland Wing is proud of its unique annual cadet speech competition, the Cadet Speak-Off. Lt. Col. Bill Duke has been the driving force in its success each year through his planning and implementation of the event. Through his networking with the local Toastmasters, the cadets involved in the competition are professionally judged and provided constructive feedback. Maryland Wing cadets annually are among the top winners at the Middle East Region Cadet Speak-Off due to Duke’s mentorship and encouragement.

Through his direct contact and influence on cadets, he has had the privilege of training many future CAP leaders who now serve in leadership positions in their squadrons and the Wing. He has directly supported and advised the Maryland Wing Cadet Advisory Council (CAC), a leadership board that advises the Wing and its leadership on policies that affect the cadet membership.

“I like how the Cadet Advisory Council provides the cadets a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills and have done what I could for many, many years to support the CAC process,” commented Duke on his work with the CAC cadets.

He has worked at the annual Tri-Wing Encampment, where he has previously served as a TAC officer, operations officer, and anything else needed, including bus driver. He currently works on curriculum and training for the cadet leadership, has proven valuable in the lives of countless cadets as they development their leadership techniques.

Lt. Col. Duke’s leadership and guidance have been the backbone of Maryland Wing’s cadet program. He was the recipient of the 2008 Civil Air Patrol – U.S. Air Force (CAP-USAF) Torch Award, whose recipient is chosen by the Wing Cadet of the Year as the individual who had the strongest impact and influence on him/her through mentorship and guidance in their CAP cadet career. The 2008 Maryland Wing Cadet of the Year, Cadet Col. Jake Reed, went on to become the National Cadet of the Year, and in Reed’s own words, noted that Lt. Col. Duke was the driving force that helped him get to that level of achievement.

In addition to his service to the cadets of Maryland Wing, Duke has had an impact on countless CAP senior members, serving as a positive influence and mentor for both new cadet program officers and more experienced senior members as well.

He most recently served as the Cadet Programs Officer at the Maryland Wing Headquarters, he has previously served as the Wing’s Director of Cadet Programs, Ground Team Training Officer, Maryland Wing Public Affairs Officer, and Wing Historian. He has been very involved in ground search and rescue over the years, including ground team leader, mission ground branch director, and mission information officer. Duke holds master ratings in the CAP cadet programs and public affairs specialty tracks.

Col. John Knowles, the former Maryland Wing commander, stated “I have had the honor of working with Col. Duke for many years since we both trace our start in CAP back to the 1970's. He has had a positive influence on tens of thousands of cadets’ lives over the past 30 years. His focus has always been on what is best for our cadets. I am proud to be his Wing Commander and even prouder to be his friend.”

And, in a sentiment that many Maryland Wing members who have had the honor of working with Lt. Col. Duke share, Knowles continued, “I can think of no one else in CAP that is more deserving of this honor than Bill Duke.”


Joseph R Winter, Lt Col, CAP

Maryland Wing Vice Commander

 Civil Air Patrol

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