Leroy R. Grumman Cadet Squadron

Civil Air Patrol - The official auxiliary of the United States Air Force

Squadron - History



The Leroy R. Grumman Cadet Squadron (formerly known as Suffolk Cadet Squadron VII) was formed in 1963 as the Suffolk Composite Squadron which at that time was part of the Suffolk Group of the New York Wing. In the 1980s both Suffolk and Nassau Groups were merged to form the current Long Island Group of the New York Wing. The squadron’s first commander was Lou Gaines who, along with senior members Irv Kole and Len Totora the squadron’s drill sergeant, built the unit from scratch and formed a cadet drill team which consisted of between 20-25 cadets. The squadron called the Huntington Armory home and used its large motor pool (garage area) as a drill floor for practice.

In 1964 Irving Cole assumed command and Len Totora assumed the position of Deputy Commander for Cadets, a position he held for three years.

In 1967, Cole turned command over to Capt. J. P. Ollivier. E. Paul Vogel joined the squadron in July of 1969 and was assigned as Squadron Information officer (the predecessor of Public Affairs Officer) by Squadron Commander, Maj. J. P. Ollivier. In December, he was promoted to Master Sergeant and received a commendation for the success of CAP's 28th Anniversary Parade.


Captain Ed Sipala assumed command of the squadron in 1970. 2nd. Lt. E. Paul Vogel was assigned as Squadron Commander on 1 Feb., 1971 by Suffolk Group Commander, Lt. Col. Joseph Scirica and was promoted to 1st. Lt. on 10 Aug. 1971 by then Suffolk Group Commander, Maj. J. P. Ollivier. That September, Capt. Len Totora was Executive Officer and J. S. Borgess was Aerospace Education Officer.

One of the cadets of Vogel's squadron was his future son-in-law Greg Power. Greg later joined the squadron as a senior member prior to joining the U.S. Air Force and starting flight training. Greg piloted B-52s and B-2 stealth bombers, commanded 2 different Air Force bases and was Vise Commander of the 8th. Air Force. He rose to the rank of Major General before retiring around 2006.

In March of 1972 1st. Lt. Vogel resigned as Squadron Commander for personal reasons but remained as Deputy Commander of Cadets and Capt. J. S. Borges took Command. Captain Joe Borges, a CAP pilot since 1964 was a First Officer with Pan Am Airlines at the time and flew out of JFK Airport on transatlantic trips to Africa and the Middle East.

In July of 1977, Capt. E. Paul Vogel, now a CAP pilot since July, 1974, and Squadron Deputy Commander, was appointed Squadron Commander by Lt. Col. Francis Schreri, Suffolk County Group Commander when Joe Borges moved to Virginia. Capt. Vogel, was promoted to Major in 1978 by Lt. Col. J. P. Ollivier, Suffolk County Group Commander.


Major Vogel was once again appointed as Squadron Commander in 1981 by Suffolk County Group Commander John Marek.

In 1984, Stan Scharf took over as Squadron Commander relieving Paul Vogel (who continued to hold various staff positions into 1991) and led the squadron for 11 years His command spanned two separate decades.

In 1994 Senior Member A. E. "Lonnie" McLaughlin Jr. joined the squadron as its Public Affairs Officer and published the unit’s first monthly newsletter entitled "The Flyer". The Flyer grew from 2 to 8 pages including among its contents, columns written by the squadron’s commander and deputy commander as well as aerospace, safety and emergency services officers and even eventually acquired sponsors.

Major Ray Waldinger, the squadron’s Cadet Programs Officer, assumed command of the unit in 1996 and Stan Scharf remained as Aerospace Officer. In 1997, Maj. Waldinger fell ill and his responsibilities fell to the Deputy Commander, Capt. McLaughlin, who officially assumed full command in early 1998 when it became apparent Maj. Waldinger was unable to continue his duties. This was a heavy growth year for Squadron VII and, at the squadron's request, the U.S. Army Reserve unit which occupied the Huntington Armory at the time, turned over its former library room and a classroom to the CAP squadron. With the addition of a few desks, the library was soon turned into an office for the senior staff.


Following the terrorist attacks on targets in New York and Washington D. C. on September 11, 2001 two things occurred which impacted the squadron. First, patriotic feelings prompted many citizens to join the Civil Air Patrol making it the second biggest recruiting period in CAP history since World War II. Second, the heightened need for U.S. Armed Forces including the U.S. Reserve and National Guard meant they needed more space and increased their facility usage in the nation’s armories and reserve centers. This forced the squadron to start looking for a new home.

Shortly thereafter Squadron VII relocated to its present home, the Auditorium building on the grounds of the Veterans Hospital located in East Northport, Long Island, NY. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Joe Sledge, the hospital's Buildings Manager and with the cooperation of the Commander of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) who were also also meeting there, a small office in the basement of the auditorium was assigned to both organizations. Eventually the Sea Cadets moved their equipment stored there to another room and our squadron took over the entire room doubling its office space.

In 2003, Greg Gunderdson joined the squadron and soon took over as Moral Leadership Officer. After five years as Commander, now Major McLaughlin, was badly in need of a respite and turned the squadron over to his Aerospace Education Officer, Lt. Col. W. Glenn Mackey.  Mackey was a former U.S. Air Force Colonel who had joined CAP in 1999 after retiring from the Air Force.  Major McLaughlin left CAP for 19 months and then rejoined the squadron in February of 2005 as its Public Affairs Officer, a position near and dear to his heart. Shortly thereafter he assumed the position of Deputy Commander, a role he retained until the end of 2010. 

In 2007, Lt. Col. Mackey turned command over to Captain Darren Cioffi and resumed the role of Aerospace Officer for the squadron. By this time the Internet was no longer considered a "new" technology and it was under Cioffi’s guidance that the squadron website was created and used as a communication and recruiting tool. Captain Cioffi’s tenure was short lived however as he was called upon by the New York Wing Commander Col. Ken Andreu to assume command of the Southeast Group in 2008. Capt. Cioffi and the Long Island Group Commander, Lt. Col. Jack Ozer, chose the Squadron's Cadet programs Officer, 2nd. Lt. Robert Litzke as Capt. Cioffi's successor. Litzke assumed command in November of 2008 and 2nd. Lt. Mitch Sahagian took over as Cadet Programs Officer.

The VA hospital’s Auditorium experienced an unfortunate electrical fire in June of 2009 which forced the squadron to utilize two areas within the main hospital, one reserved for outpatients and the second, its main lobby. Neither area was large enough nor conducive to the training that the squadron’s cadets were used to. This coupled with the fact that all the cadet officers in the squadron graduated high school and went off to other states to attend college led to a reduction in unit strength and a lack of cadet officers. Cadet NCOs were chosen as senior cadet staff and eventually by the fall of 2010 the squadron once again found itself meeting in the auditorium on a regular basis.

In November of 2010 after two years as commander Captain Litzke decided to step down. The Long Island Group Commander, Major Alan Gibbs, selected Major James Allen Ridley, Sr. as the squadron’s 12th commander. Ridley, a CAP member since 2004 had been the Deputy Commander of the Col. Francis S. Gabreski Squadron as well as being both the New York Wing and Northeast Region Public Affairs Officer at the time of his being tapped for command, Captain Litzke remained in the squadron and assumed the role of its Emergency Services Officer. In addition to a new Commander, the senior member numbers were increased with the addition of fthree more senior members. Virginia Lackey joined as Administration and Personnel Officer; Michele Renneberg, mother of Cadet Patrick Tracy joined as the squadron's Cadet Programs Officer & Professional Development Officer (Michele). Captain Edmund Raiola, formerly of the Gabreski Squadron, was appointed Deputy Commander, he was replaced within the year by Captain Mitch Sahagian. Major McLaughlin remained as PAO, Webmaster and Finance Officer. November ended with two firsts. After a drought of almost two years since a new senior member had been recruited, the month of November was a banner month for Suffolk Cadet Squadron VII with the addition of a deluge of four new seniors and 4 new cadets in its last two weeks. The month was capped off when the squadron's website experienced an all time daily high of 117 hits on November 30th. 

One of the first items on Major Ridley’s agenda was to give the squadron a Long Island based identity that the squadron could be proud of. He wrote several letters to the family of a prominent, native Long Island aviation hero. In December of 2010 Major Ridley received word from Mr. David Grumman, the son of the late Leroy R. Grumman, cofounder and namesake of the Grumman Aerospace Corporation, granting his family's permission for the squadron's name to be changed to "Leroy R. Grumman Cadet Squadron". Leroy Randel Grumman was an innovator and a former U.S. Navy pilot who served in World War I. Among the famed air and spacecraft designed by the Grumman Corporation was the F-4F Wildcat, F-6F Hellcat, F-14 Tomcat and the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) which delivered Americans to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Grumman was a native of Huntington, NY and, to Maj. Ridley who grew up in Bethpage where the company called home and who came from a family heavily employed by Grumman (including Ridley himself), this made sense. "It’s fitting" Ridley said, "that at least one CAP squadron on Long Island is named after this great aviation pioneer and Long Islander and I’m glad it’s the one which I command".

The name change became official when on May 1, 2011, A Name Change Ceremony was held at the Old First Presbyterian Church's Parish Hall.  The church was the worship place of a young Leroy Grumman during the turn of the 20th Century.  Present were the NY Wing Commander Col Jack Ozer, the LI Group Commander Maj Alan Gibbs and the Guest Speaker, Mr. David Grumman of IL, son of our namesake.  Joining David was his wife, two nieces and one grand nephew.  Representatives of the Northrop Grumman Corp., Grumman Retiree Club, Cradle of Aviation Museum and others from the New York Wing and Long Island Group were also present for this grand occassion.

2011 -

At the end of January, we were informed that our squadron had earned the newly created Quality Cadet Unit Award that CAP NHQ is conferring on units. Nationally we were 1 of 118 units and 1of only 3 units on Long Island and 8 in New York to earn this honor for 2010. 

 1 May 2011. The squadron's official ceremony changing its name to the Leroy R. Grumman Cadet Squadron took place at the Old First Presbyterian Church in Huntington, NY. Present were the NY Wing Commander Col. Jack Ozer, Long Island Group Commander Maj. Alan Gibbs, Leroy R. Grumman's son, David and five members of the Grumman family. Cadets from the Flushing Cadet Squadron’s Drum Corps accompanied our Color Guard's presentation of the colors. The national anthem was sung and the squadron’s Chaplain Capt. Andy Hart gave the invocation.

The Squadron was presented a Town of Huntington Proclamation by Councilwoman Susan A. Berland said, "It was an honor and a pleasure to congratulate the Leroy R. Grumman Squadron this afternoon" and commended the Civil Air Patrol, Long Island Group, for memorializing Grumman’s legacy. In addition, the squadron received proclamations from Suffolk County, U.S. Congress, New York State Senate and the State Assembly. The presentation of the new squadron flag was conducted by the Grumman Squadron’s Color Guard and David Grumman then entertained the audience with stories regarding his father.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a representative of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War awarded two of the squadron’s outstanding cadets with certificates and medals. A sumptuous buffet for all followed.

In August 2011, the Grumman Squadron saw its first Eaker Cadet, c/Lt. Col. Patrick Argento, receive his award in front of his parents and squadron.  The award was presented by COL (Ret) Vincent Montero, USAR.  A second Eaker Cadet, c/Lt. Col. Carissa Lackey joined the squadron in November and Maj. Robert Paggoli transferred in and took over as Testing Officer in September. 

2012 -

On January 14, 2012, the Grumman Squadron was named Long Island Group's "Squadron of the Year" for 2011 at the group's annual military ball held at the Villa Lombardis Catering Hall in Holbrook.  At the ball c/Lt. Col. Argento was named the group's Cadet of the Year and Cadet 2nd. Lt. Alexander Bennett was presented the CAP Achievement Award.  For the second time in one year, a Grumman Squadron Cadet earned at least one of the Cadet the Year awards (NCO in 2010 and Cadet Officer in 2011).  Two weeks later we were informed that we had been awarded the Quality Cadet Unit Award for the second year in a row.

In March, the squadron's color guard team took first place in the Color Guard event at the Pershing Rifles competition and Third Place overall competing against many ROTC Units.

At the NY Wing Convention, the Grumman Squadron was named "Squadron of Distiction" for 2011, the highest honor that a squadron can receive from the Wing.

in early summer, Sam Ramos and two of his children joined the squadron. With his strong experience in the police and military, it was only natural that he would take over as Emergency Services Officer

2013 -

At the 8th Annual Military Ball  held in January 2013, The Leroy R. Grumman Cadet Squadron was named  Long Island Group Squadron of the Year for the second year in a row!  c/Capt. Joshua Howard was named LI Group Cadet of the Year

In February , we were informed that our squadron had qualified for the NHQ Cadet Merit Squadron award for 2012. 

March 30, Our squadron has it's first Spaatz cadet. Congratulations to Cadet Colonel Carissa Lackey.

In March, the squadron participated once again in the Pershing Rifles Color Guard competition. This time they returned from Florida with 5 trophies including the Color Guard 1st. place trophy. The team was led by c/CMSgt Patrick Tracy and included flag bearer c/CMSgt Peter Gerdvil and riflemen c/TSgt. Travis Jensen and Steven Horowitz. Other awards won included 1st.  place for Inspection and Black Jacks drill and Color Guard Competition; 2nd. Place Color Guard & General John J. Pershing Memorial Drill Competition; Outstanding Unit Trophy, Black Jacks drill and Color Guard Competition and the Black Jacks cup, Blackjack drill and Color guard Competition

At the New York Wing Conference in May, the squadron was awarded the 2011 New York Wing Squadron of Distinction

Also in May, Captain Robert Litzke took over as Supply Officer and Captain Ridley, Commander.  Major Ridley's son and a former Spaatz Cadet, transferred into the squadron and took over as PAO/Recruiting Officer and Historian from Lt. Col. McLaughlin who remained as Finance Officer and Webmaster.

Squadron Patch

Below - Original patch worn by members of Squadron VII up until 2007

Below - Squadron VII members patch, worn 2008-2011


Below - Current Squadron members patch, as of January 2011


Cadet Flying

C130 Orientation Flight

Cadet Encampment

Emergency Services GTM Training

Balloon Festival

Cadet Activity

Cadet Flightline Crew