TX214 History

In the downtown area of Garland, Texas, was “Fire Station Number 1”.  Besides its normal compliment of firefighters, booster trucks, brush trucks and ladder trucks, it also was the home of a Civil Air Patrol squadron named “Gar-Tex” in the mid to late 1970’s.  In 1977 Theodore “Ted” Buell was the commander and the squadron was doing very well for itself, despite the fact that Buell and the other senior officers of the squadron had their own way of doing things.  This rebellious nature had caused some rifts with Group 4, which made it difficult to get things done.  Apparently this led to Buell being informed that he was being removed from his post due to the fact that he had “served his term as the squadron commander”.  Buell and the other senior staff and some members decided to leave Gar-Tex to find another home elsewhere.

Initially, the idea was that each person would be on their own.  But it didn’t take long for the members to realize that they lived in the middle of Group 4 and would have to drive a long way to get out from under, what they thought, was Group 4’s constant nagging and nit-picking.  In the meantime, Gar-Tex began to show signs of deterioration.  The finances reflected the membership; money and people were scarce.   In late 1977, the former members of Gar-Tex squadron put their heads together and decided to take the road less traveled and instead of joining an existing squadron, they decided to create their own.

Chuck and Jerry Leath, Al and Bobbie Hagen, Ted Buell, and Larry Welbs (one of Gar-Tex’s former cadets) all met to discuss forming this new squadron to replace their old dying one.  Not much time was spent trying to find a name for this squadron.  None of the members of this group were particularly liked by Group (with the exception of Larry Welbs, being a cadet) and the only name which made sense was the name that described them best.  Black Sheep.

When Group got wind that this new squadron was attempting to gain momentum, Ted Buell recalled that “Group did the best they could to keep us from forming our own squadron”.  However, the Leath’s, Hagen’s, Ted Buell and Larry Welbs pushed on and submitted every document required to charter the new squadron.  With Group still protesting its formation, Texas Wing officially issued the charter on 7/20/1978.  This new squadron would be chartered as 42264, and Al Hagan was “voted” to be the first squadron commander, as he had the best organizational ability. 

Prior to the arrival of the Charter, the members of Black Sheep had an extraordinary stroke of luck.  At 6pm, on April 6th, 1978, Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and Masajiro “Mike” Kawato (the Japanese pilot who had supposedly shot Boyington down in WWII) would be speaking at Guy C. Hutcheson Junior High School in Arlington, Texas.  Seizing this opportunity, Hagan and other seniors and cadets attended this event, billed as “An evening with Boyington and Kawato”.  After the event was over, Hagan and a few seniors approached Boyington and told him how they had formed a new squadron named “Black Sheep”.  After a long conversation, the members left the auditorium with a signed copy of Boyington’s book, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, a letter in which Boyington endorsed this new squadron, and stipulated that he would not endorse any other CAP squadron that chose to use the name Black Sheep.  This turn of events infuriated a squadron in south Texas who was trying to use the “Black Sheep” name first.

The squadron was comprised of 10 senior members and 15 cadets and met every Monday night.  Ms. Hudson (the widow of Phil Hudson, who the airport was named after and owned the airport) allowed them to meet in the FBO, and the squadron found itself getting in the way of the airport’s business by crowding the FBO on meeting nights.  But, Mrs. Hudson strongly supported this new squadron and never complained a bit.  Without the help of the Hudson’s, Black Sheep would never have survived.

Not long after the squadron was formed, Al Hagan had to leave for a new job in Katy, Texas.  With his abrupt departure, the Group Commander came to the squadron and wrote orders for Chuck Leath to take over the squadron on a yellow legal pad.

Under Chuck Leath, the squadron began to develop a reputation for being good at whatever they undertook.  During Leath’s time as squadron commander, Ms. Hudson decided to let Black Sheep use a recently vacated office and remodel it to fit their use.  In January of 1982, The Hudson’s sold the airport to the city of Mesquite.

In 1983, Chuck and Jerry advanced to Group and Chuck passed command to Art Hendon.  Hendon only commanded the squadron for about a year when his job took him to Houston.  Paul Salos was named the next Squadron Commander in 1984.  When Salos took over, one of the first things he did was to re-charter the squadron.  The number 214 was available and with the assistance of Colonel Todd, Salos had the charter changed to 42214.  Salos also designed the squadron’s first patch and hat.  Black Sheep had about 35 senior members and 25 cadets when he took command.

In 1986, W.C. Hettich was named as the Deputy Commander for Cadets.  The following year in 1987, Salos passed command to Art Hendon who had returned from Houston.  That summer, the previous commander, Paul Salos went to the yearly Oshkosh airshow and ran into “Pappy” Boyington.  Salos was wearing his Black Sheep hat and Major’s rank (which was the rank “Pappy” was when he commanded the “Black Sheep”) and he had his photo taken with “Pappy”.

On 1/11/1988, Gregory Boyington passed away.  During that year, Black Sheep won Group 4’s Squadron of the Year.

The next year, in 1989, Kelly Bryant took over as the squadron commander.  During his time as the commander, he built the communications room in the senior building.  Sometime around 1989 or 1990, the squadron’s letter from “Pappy” Boyington disappeared from the squadron headquarters.

W.C. Hettich paid close attention to the development of the cadets and saw to it that the cadets were included in activities (even though some of the seniors didn’t really want them there).  He expected the cadets to behave maturely and take care of their responsibilities.  He was in a precarious position; he was standing up to senior members that both out ranked him as well as those that were above him on staff to fight for the cadets.  Luckily, with his natural ability to mentor cadets, combined with his ability to speak his mind without mincing words, he made the cadets proud.  Andy Crouch, Phillip Rains, Christian Cook and Paul Perkins all served as the Cadet Commanders under W.C. during his time as DCFC and all of them did their jobs well.

For some years, there had been a restaurant on highway 80 about a mile west of Lawson.  The restaurant was called “The Golden Ox”, but was affectionately known as “The Ox” to the members of the squadron.  The seniors used to go there after the meetings and one day the cadets asked if they could go.  Initially, the seniors resisted, but W.C. told the Squadron Commander, Kelly Bryant (his boss) that the cadets WILL be allowed to go to “The Ox” and that they would behave.  So, the seniors pushed tables together and sat amongst themselves in a cloud of coffee steam and cigarette smoke, and the cadets sat at their own tables, sucking on soft drinks and eating chips and salsa.  For the cadets, a meeting wasn’t a meeting unless you went to “The Ox” afterwards.  Hettich further endeared himself to the cadets by leaving his fellow seniors to go sit with the cadets for a few minutes.

In 1991, Black Sheep won lots of awards.  1st Place in the Southwest Region Drill Team Competition for inspection, standard drill and written exam, and the seniors won best briefing and best uniform at the Texas Wing Search and Rescue Competition.

The T-41B was replaced that year with a Cessna 182, but not for long.  Black Sheep’s old ways had returned, and Kelly Bryant and members of his staff seemed to be reliving the original days of the squadron, getting into disagreements with Wing and Group, especially Group 4’s commander, Major Steve Scott.  A disagreement with Wing finally resulted in the 182 being taken away and replaced with a Cessna Cardinal.  The 182 went to Lemesa, Texas, where a few weeks later, it was stolen.  The rumor was that it turned up in Mexico.

In 1992, Kelly Bryant turned command of Black Sheep over to Peggy Acker, and W.C. Hettich remained the DCFC.  The final Cadet Commander to serve under W.C. Hettich was Thomas Nguyen, Jr., with J.M. Coffman as his 1st Sergeant.  W.C. departed the squadron due to personal reasons in mid 1992 and Karen Swain was appointed as the new DCFC.  Swain missed a lot of the cadet meetings and as a result, C/Captain Nguyen and C/TSgt Coffman had to take charge of the program.  Where W.C. had always made the calendar, oversaw drill and customs and courtesies, there now existed a void.  Nguyen and Coffman routinely met at International House of Pancakes, spent the night at each other’s house and spent countless hours on the phone trying to plan meetings and activities.  The cadets had become almost completely independent from the seniors, with the exception of having to have the testing officer administer tests and the moral leadership officer come to teach moral leadership.  In Swain’s absence, the cadets learned self reliance, responsibility and organization. 

During Acker’s time as the commander, the squadron began to have more socializing events, where pancakes and hamburgers were served at the airport and families of members got to meet each other.

In 1994, Steve Marsden replaced Karen Swain as the DCFC, and within a few months, Thomas Nguyen and J.M. Coffman had left for college; Josh Casario took over as the Cadet Commander.  In December of that year, Peggy Acker turned the squadron over to R.W. Russell.

Russell remained in command for only a year, when Jim Quinn took over in 1995.  In 1998, Dennis Gross and Richard Martin were awarded lifesaving awards for directing firefighters out of danger during a fire watch mission.  Also in 1998, Major Merle Depue was returning to his airport when he suffered a heart attack, causing him to lose control of the aircraft.  The aircraft crashed and he was killed.  He was so liked by his squadron mates that they quickly designed a sign to be placed in a chair at every meeting that reserved the chair for him.

In January, 1999, CAP re-designated unit charters.  No longer would Texas squadrons start with the number “42”, they would now start with “TX”.  Black Sheep was now TX-214.  Then in March of 1999, the DCFC, Steve Marsden became the squadron commander and the old squadron commander, Jim Quinn became the Public Affairs Officer.  Ron Marshall was named as the new DCFC.

On June 29, 1999, Merle Depue’s birthday, Black Sheep dedicated the flagpole at the headquarters building and placed a memorial next to the flagpole.  Major Depue’s family was invited to attend the ceremony and listened to the Group 4 commander, Roland Jarvis, as he gave a speech.  Then, everyone watched as a CAP plane, flown by Major Jeff Birks, performed a fly-by with a USAF bugler playing “Taps”.

On July 3rd, 2000, Chuck Leath, the second squadron commander of Black Sheep, passed away.

In 2001, Steve Marsden turned over command to Dennis Gross.  In January, 2002, J.M. Coffman, who had returned to the squadron as a senior in September of 2001, replaced Ron Marshall as the DCFC.  Cadet Eric Hutton also replaced Robert Fritts as the Cadet Commander.  With Coffman’s return, many changes were implemented in the cadet program.  A more structured meeting, cadets mentoring one another and observance of the squadron’s history and traditions became priorities.

In Jaunary of 2003, Dennis Gross turned command over to Gary Woodall.  One month later in February, Black Sheep participated in the recovery of the Space Shuttle Columbia. 

On December 16th, Black Sheep hosted the “Wright Brothers Celebration”, observing the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s famous first flight.  Two other squadrons attended as the cadets did a pass-in-review for the Group commander.  The Group Aerospace officer was also present and told the story of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk.

In July of 2004, Cadet Rebecca McKinney replaced Eric Hutton as the cadet commander.

In January of 2005, Mike Eberle replaced Gary Woodall as the squadron commander.  In September, Black Sheep took part in the Katrina/Rita Relief effort, helping to deliver supplies. 

In July of 2006, Cadet Mitchell Graham took over Cadet Commander from Rebecca McKinney. 

Then in August of 2006, the airport management allowed the cadets to move into a new building.  Ryland homes donated sheetrock and other supplies and the cadets moved in on August 8th.  In a ceremony, the cadets took the picture of Pappy Boyington which hung in the old cadet headquarters and carried it to the new building and hung it next to the door.