Cadet finds purpose, joins US Air Force

Published 11:24 am Thursday, January 19, 2023

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By Lt Deborah Leighton

Civil Air Patrol

Sugar Valley Squadron

One of the most important roles of a Civil Air Patrol composite squadron is to nurture and guide cadets.

At the Sugar Valley Composite Squadron, Cadet Capt. Veronica Martinez discovered her purpose, and is transitioning to service in the US Air Force.

“Civil Air Patrol has played a big role in my life for several years. I joined as a shy, 13-year-old girl who could barely talk to someone without nearly crying. I was quite unsure of what I wanted to do after high school.

“When I joined, I wasn’t sure about what part of CAP would click with me, but it wasn’t long before I found a passion for emergency services, leading and serving, and the military.

“Throughout the years in CAP, I’ve had many friends, mentors, and challenges come my way. These people have helped me to overcome my fears, exceed my own expectations, and accomplish more than I ever imagined I would.  This program and the people in it helped me grow from a quiet, nervous follower, to a strong and morally developed leader.

“I never imagined I’d be moving on to start such a new, incredible chapter of my life, yet here I am, by the grace of God. The bittersweet goodbyes to my CAP family have been a real challenge, but I hope to return and reunite with them in the near future. I owe a tremendous thank you to everyone who helped me to come so far.”

Martinez left Monday for basic training.

“To my parents, Chon and Jennifer Martinez: “I know I’ll be in basic military training by the time you read this, but I especially want to thank you for always believing in me and encouraging me to be stronger in so many different aspects of life. I love you.”

Martinez first joined the Sugar Valley Squadron in July 2018. Since becoming a CAP cadet, she attended 2 encampments and 6 Ranger Training Weekends. The N.C. Wing Encampment emphasizes leadership, self-discipline, fitness and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities. Serving as Flight Sergeant, Cadet Public Affairs Officer, Cadet Safety Officer and Color Guard earned her the Squadron’s Cadet of the Year award in January 2020.

In 2021, she served as NC Wing cadet advisory council (CAC) primary representative for the Sugar Valley Composite Squadron.

She was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Cadet Medal in June 2021. In November 2021, she received the Brigadier Gen. Billy Mitchell award and obtained the rank of cadet second lieutenant. Martinez then assumed the position of squadron cadet commander. In November 2022, she earned the rank of cadet captain.

In November 2022 the Ranger Training Command Staff recognized Martinez before the Ranger Training Weekend School for years of participation and commitment. Martinez has been to 6 Ranger Training Weekends, 2 as a student and 4 times as staff. The NC Wing Ranger Training School is a field leadership school where cadets practice wilderness search and rescue skills as well as ground team skills.

“I’ve been going to RTWs for as long as I can remember, so knowing this was my last one made it somewhat bittersweet. I am thankful I have been able to serve alongside so many amazing people and be a servant to the many students I had the opportunity to meet. I will never forget it and I hope to see my Ranger family again in the not-too-distant future.”

“Cadet Capt. Martinez has been a shining example to our squadron and to NC Wing members. I am very proud of her hard work, commitment, achievements, and persistent efforts toward her goals. I am sure she will go far,” said Capt Sandra Smith, Sugar Valley commander

As Martinez heads off to basic training in Texas this week, the senior members and cadets of NC-052 wish her well and know that she takes the CAP core values with her in this next phase of her life, and the leadership and integrity that she has exemplified in her service in CAP will shine in the US Air Force, in service to her country.

For more information about Civil Air Patrol and to see what cadets experience at weekly meetings, visit on Tuesday evenings 6:30-8:30 at Sugar Valley Airport, 249 Gilbert Road, Mocksville. Follow squadron activities on Facebook @nc052.