Tri-Valley Composite Squadron 156
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Unit History - 2018

What is now the Tri-Valley Composite Squadron was originally formed during the 1960s in the city of Hayward, when it was known as the Eden Composite Squadron 156. Meetings were held at 612 West A Street, a site which is currently the William P. Burke Academy, a school for students with disabilities operated by the Alameda County Office of Education. Sometime during the 1980s, the squadron relocated to Camp Parks RFTA in Dublin and was renamed the Tri-Valley Composite Squadron 156. By 1997, squadron membership had dropped significantly and the unit was officially closed.

The squadron was re-activated in Livermore on July 3, 2018 and placed under the command of Captain Michael E. Carter, CAP. As a Composite Squadron, the unit includes both senior members and cadets, and the initial membership consisted of eighteen senior members and six cadets. Squadron 156 provides the three services of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to the Tri-Valley Area: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services.

The Tri-Valley Area consists of a rough triangle in the east side of San Francisco Bay, encompassing about 119 square miles of land and waterways. The northern part is the San Ramon Valley, which houses the cities of Danville and San Ramon as well as the unincorporated communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, and Diablo. The southern part of the triangle is the Amador Valley, which includes the cities of Dublin and Pleasanton, and the eastern part consists of the Livermore Valley with the City of Livermore. Based on 2018 economic data from Tri-Valley Rising, the area’s population is about 361,000.

With the re-establishment of Squadron 156, our members have taken steps to ensure that the three CAP missions are active and dynamic, and so far things are moving very quickly.


The first official Aerospace Education Officer (AEO) for the unit is Captain Joseph Spears, CAP, who is leading a head long operation to get this mission rolling. The first topic that Capt Spears covered was an overview of external Aerospace Education (AE) programs in CAP, which include an Aerospace Education Excellence (AEX) program and Teacher Orientation Program Flights (TOP).

Another area that Capt Spears hopes to get the Squadron involved in is Cyberpatriots. This middle and high school level program allows students to get a feel for cybersecurity and get to participate in a tournament to see which team is the best in the nation. The program follows the academic year, starting in September and ending in May.

A third major project undertaken by Capt Spears is a hands-on introduction to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) for 3-D printing projects. The first part of the block included a discussion of the different types of 3-D printers as well as an introduction to SketchUp, a very popular 3D design and visualization program.

In addition, Capt. Spears introduced our cadets to drones, and the final project for 2018 was a hands-on introduction to Virtual Reality Flight Simulation.

Another of our AEOs, First Lieutenant Nikolay Zherebnenkov, CAP, was previously the AEO for the Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188 in Oakland. During his tenure there he was able to give multiple presentations and complete an AEX program with a special day class (SDC) for students who have moderate and/or severe disabilities. 1Lt Zherebnenkov also did a presentation for Veteran’s Day to the classroom, talking about how it came to be and why we celebrate the holiday.

In December, 1Lt Zherebnenkov did a presentation on Pearl Harbor Day, discussing why we lower the flag to half-mast. Another day, he presented information about volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol and the different missions that the organization has to offer.


Right before Squadron 156 formed in Livermore, CAP Group 2 San Francisco Bay hosted the training for a Wing Led Exercise, and a lot of members from all over the California Wing flew into the Tri-Valley. At that time, 2Lt Zherebnenkov was training to become a Mission Staff Assistant (MSA). He had the opportunity to see all the different ICS positions that CAP uses in its missions, as well as to learn how to use the radios and make a few call outs in order to complete his training as an MSA.

Second Lieutenant Charles Towns, CAP, had the opportunity to participate in several different missions throughout the year, including two Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) missions, one of which had a non-distress find, while the second had two non-distress finds.

Group 2 and the California Wing (CAWG) throughout the year offer a few Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) or Advanced SAREX missions. These are meant to train members to become mission capable or keep their skills sharp. During 2018 2Lt Towns participated in four of them. As a mission observer, Mr. Towns was in the right-hand seat in a high bird plan during a Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) mission that involved both the Civil Air Patrol and the United States Air Force.

Throughout the year, there are missions that require Aerial Photographs (AP) and require a crew to equip a plane with a fixed camera or point and shoot with a camera from inside the plane. 2Lt Towns participated in two of these. He also participated in a long mission to look for and help develop information about the windfarms east of Livermore at specific locations.


A Squadron Leadership School (SLS) was held at Travis Air Force Base in November of 2018. Second Lieutenant Maria Harral, CAP, attended this course and Capt Spears was an instructor.

A two-day Corporate Learning Course (CLC) was held earlier in the year at the home base of the Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188 in Oakland, taught by a few Squadron 188 members who later joined Squadron 156. Though at times it felt like a Death by PowerPoint course, 2Lt Zherebnenkov later said that he learned that the organization becomes more and more like a corporation the higher you climb up the ladder. As a result, leadership at the top tries its best to help the squadrons and flights by making sure the Civil Air Patrol receives the financial support it needs for the various organizations.

Another CLC class was held at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, attended by Captain John Eichelberger, CAP, of Squadron 156.

This year’s National Conference was held in Anaheim, California. The California Wing had decided that since the National Conference was going to be in town, they would host the California Wing Conference at the same time. Many squadron members either flew down or drove to the conference to learn about the National and Wing levels.

Aerospace Education Officer Training School is a Wing-level course that helps train Senior Members and AEM members about STEM kits and the CAP AE program. This past year the AEO School was held at the Livermore Airport and attended by several squadron members. Senior Member George Ledo and Captain John Stevulak attended to see what the program was about or just get a refresher, while Capt Spears and 1Lt Zherebnenkov presented modules within the School. The class was open to any and all members of Civil Air Patrol.

Not only did the members get to sit through a PowerPoint based class but they had time to discuss and talk about which elements worked and which did not. Another training element of the school was the CAP STEM trailer. An interesting part of the class was on
Sunday, when members were able to look at and interact with fifteen of the STEM kits that the program provides.


Squadrons 156, 18, 188 and 44 participated in the Livermore Air Show on October 6, 2018, at which CAP set up a booth and the cadets performed a color guard ceremony.

On December 11th, 2018, the Livermore Airport held a Back to Basics forum, during which the tower staff talked about the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) regulations specifically for departure at the airport.

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