FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP - The Copper Country Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol has a new, yet familiar face at the helm.
Second Lt. Tom Curski assumed command of the unit in a ceremony prior to the squadron's regular Monday evening meeting. He succeeds Maj. Joe Masini, who held the position since the squadron's charter in 2005.
Upper Michigan Group Commander Maj. Steve Adkins of the Civil Air Patrol Michigan Wing and Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Donald Poe, of Escanaba, officiated the Change of Command Ceremony, which was held in the conference room of the Houghton County Memorial Airport in Franklin Township.
Kelly Fosness/Daily Mining Gazette
Upper Michigan Group Commander Maj. Steve Adkins of the Civil Air Patrol Michigan Wing, in white, and Deputy Group Commander Lt. Col. Donald Poe, far left, officiate a Change of Command Ceremony prior to the start of the Copper Country Composite Squadron’s regular Monday evening meeting. Second Lt. Tom Curski, third from left, assumed command of the squadron. He succeeds Maj. Joe Masini, second from left, who held the position since the squadron’s charter in 2005. Holding the CAP flag is squadron member Mike Roth.
"Maj. Masini shaped this squadron into what you see today," Adkins said. "He has taken this squadron and he has pushed it, and pulled it, and by example, set a standard for these guys to follow."
Masini, of Hancock, spent much of his life in the air. He was a military pilot with both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army National Guard for 40 years, a commercial pilot for Continental Airlines and worked for the Federal Aviation Administration as a program manager for Northwest Airlines.
Upon his retirement in 2004, Masini returned to the U.P. and voluntarily began working to re-establish the local CAP squadron, headquartered at the airport.
"A bunch of us guys talked about it but nobody got anything going so I called up (then group commander) Col. (Donald) Poe," Masini said. "He came up and visited with us and said what we had to do to get it started."
Noting that Masini was "well versed" in CAP protocol, Poe said it didn't take long for him to assume the position of commander.
"This squadron started to grow. That's what he wanted to happen," Poe said.
Masini was presented with two certificates during the ceremony - one of which was for outstanding duty performance.
Voluntarily accepting the position of commander is quite the responsibility, Adkins said, and he commended Curski for his willing to do so.
"When you take command you are responsible for everything that happens; you have to keep on top of everything and you have to keep nudging your people a little bit," he said. "Sometimes we don't have people who step forward, we have to assign that position and they never do as good a job as the people who want to do it."
Originally from Ontonagon, Curski has been a member of the Copper Country Composite Squadron for the past two years. In that time he has assumed the title of mission transport pilot, search and rescue pilot, as well as conducts orientation flights for U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets.
Following his 40-year career as an automotive engineer, Curski returned to the U.P. in 2008 and resides in Houghton.
While he understands there's a lot of learning ahead, Curski said he's up for the challenge because he has a strong support system.
"I'm very fortunate in that we have a half dozen members in the group who are really stepping up to the plate and carrying the load so to speak," he said.
Masini, who will continue to serve as a volunteer member of the squadron, said Curski was a prime candidate to lead the CAP.
"He's got a good feel for what's got to be done," he said. "I think it's in good hands."
The Copper Country Composite Squadron always encourages new membership. Anyone interested in joining, or wanting to find out more about the CAP, is invited to attend their regular weekly meetings at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the conference room of the airport.