EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – You might say that the Civil Air Patrol flies under the radar in terms of the public’s perception.

The all-volunteer organization serves as the official auxiliary for the U.S. Air Force.

As such, it assists with search-and-rescue missions and during natural disasters. They also have a cadet program for youngsters so they can learn leadership skills and about the ever-evolving nature of aviation.

Additionally, the organization is charged with helping to educate the general public about aviation.

El Paso Civil Air Patrol cadets, from left, Maximus Roebuck, Gilberto Miranda and Noah Sebesta receive the Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell Award during a ceremony at UTEP on April 24. Photo by Dave Burge

“In today’s day and age, the idea of being able to understand all the physics and technology (of aviation), it’s changing so quickly,” said Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. John Adams, the commander of the El Paso Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol.

One of the organization’s key efforts is its cadet program.

Monday night, April 24, three cadets in the El Paso Composite Squadron went through a promotion ceremony in which they received the Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell Award, which was named after the founder of the independent Air Force.

Franklin High School junior Maximus Roebuck, El Paso High sophomore Noah Sebesta and Pebble Hills freshman Gilberto Miranda received the award in recognition of their leadership, aerospace knowledge, fitness and character.

Roebuck was also named Cadet of the Year by the U.S. Air Force Association.

Now, they are considered leaders and mentors to the younger cadets in the organization.

UTEP President Heather Wilson, a former U.S. Air Force secretary and congresswoman, was the special guest who presented the award.

Adams called the award a “milestone” event for the cadets.

The cadet program is “widely known” during the college admission process, Sebesta said.

“I tried to develop myself for my future to lead others and also raise my chances of getting into a college like West Point or a service academy,” Sebesta said.

Sebesta said he would like to go to medical school but would also like to get his private pilot certification. He does not want to be a pilot as a profession.

His goal is to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, serve in the Army and then use the G.I. Bill to go to medical school.

Roebuck said his goal is to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and become an Air Force pilot.

Cadets who receive the Mitchell Award can enlist in the Air Force at the E-3 level or as an airman first class. The service also looks favorably upon Mitchell cadets when evaluating them for Air Force ROTC or to attend the Air Force Academy.

The El Paso Composite Squadron meets from 7 to 9 p.m. each Monday at 8025 Boeing near the El Paso International Airport. You drop by to find out more or find them on Facebook.