Hollis students soar in Civil Air Patrol

NASHUA – Denali Ferrero and Matthew Heiter, both of Hollis, are award-winning cadets with the Civil Air Patrol’s Humphrey Cadet Squadron in Nashua.

The squadron is the first school-based squadron in the state and is part of the New Hampshire Wing. As the official auxiliary of the Air Force, it supports the three major missions of the Civil Air Patrol: emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

The squadron is based at the Academy for Science and Design, a STEM-specialty public charter school where Ferrero and Heiter are students and maintain academic achievement required by the Civil Air Patrol.

Heiter recently received the Wright Brothers Award for successfully completing Phase I of the Civil Air Patrol cadet program. It marks the transition of a cadet to noncommissioned officer status and accompanies promotion to the grade of cadet staff sergeant.

Heiter graduated from Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School in December at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. He credits the Civil Air Patrol for teaching him how to be a good leader.

"One of the most important concepts that I have learned is ‘To lead is to serve,’ " he said.

Ferrero was awarded the Achievement Award for Outstanding Duty Performance. Ferrero regularly volunteers on behalf of the squadron with Operation Care for Troops, which sends care packages to deployed servicemen and servicewomen all over the world.

"I am proud to give my time and demonstrate one of the four core values of the Civil Air Patrol, which is volunteer service," Ferrero said. "Volunteering reflects what is at the heart of CAP: service to humanity."

Ferrero is a cadet senior airman in the process to achieve the Wright Brothers Award. He will attend Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School this summer at Norwich University in Vermont.

Ferrero and Heiter are members of the squadron’s CyberPatriot team and are competing in the 2015-16 CyberPatriot VIII competition. CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program. CyberPatriot was conceived by the Air Force Association to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, which puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company.

In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.

Ferrero and Heiter are participating in the All Service Division, which is only open to JROTC programs, Civil Air Patrol units and Naval Sea Cadet Corps units.

The Humphrey Cadet Squadron was awarded the Quality Cadet Unit Award for the second year in a row in 2015. The squadron was one of about 200 recipients, out of more than 1,000 units nationally, to receive the award, which recognizes squadrons with a vibrant cadet corps "that displays strong program fundamentals."

For more information about the Civil Air Patrol, visit www.capvolunteernow.com.