Philadelphia Composite Squadron 103 is one of the oldest and accomplished squadrons in the history of Civil Air Patrol. Over its 70+ year history, Squadron 103 has significantly impacted the lives of an estimated 10,000+ young men and women in the Greater Philadelphia area. Rich in culture, this unit is well known for producing sharp cadets that are tough and intelligent both mentally and physically. Members of the 103 Alumni move on to become dynamic Americans and apply their leadership and life skills as they move up the chains of military command, the rungs of the corporate ladder, and ahead of the competition as entrepreneurs.
Squadron 103 Origins
Our story began in 1942 as the first cadet flight of the Philadelphia Squadron of the new Civil Air Patrol. It met at Dobbins Vocational High School. Joseph Simcock, the Commander of the Philadelphia Squadron once a week went to Dobbins, taking along Victor Albright who served as the first cadet sergeant of the flight. Victor Albright was a 16 year old teenager who “hung out “ at Simcock Field, now Northeast Philadelphia Airport, washing airplanes and other tasks for Mr. Simcock. Mr. Simcock took him to Dobbins to allow “peer” discussions with the Dobbins students about aviation. At this time there was no cadet activity at Simcock field, but it did begin shortly afterwards, with some of the students from Dobbins. During the war, the city bought Simcock Field and it became Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
In about 1946, Pennsylvania Wing of CAP was restructured into Groups and Squadron. The previous Philadelphia Squadron became Group 10 and the flights of the previous Philadelphia Squadron became Squadron 101 at Philadelphia International Airport, Squadron 102 at Northeast Philadelphia Airport and Squadron 103 at Dobbins Vocational High School.
Lt. Col Joseph Simcock, the Group 10 commander sent two of his new Lieutenants, John Hill and Walter Blake, to Dobbins to take command of now Squadron 103. They found the arrangements at Dobbins to be unsatisfactory for a stand-alone squadron, no office or evening access. They went looking for a new meeting place and were able to arrange to meet in the National Guard Armory on Ogontz Ave. At the Armory, Squadron 103 had a small office, big enough for two desks, a file cabinet and a small work table with a mimeograph machine on it. Lt. John Hill was the Squadron Commander and Lt. Walter Blake was the Squadron Executive Officer. This would serve as the origin of the “squadron” so many of us would come to know and love for over 60 years.
Col. John Hill, Frist Squadron 103 Commander (picture from his service as the Commander of Middle East Region)
After its start, the squadron would go on to become one of the most decorated organizations in the region including:
Winning 7 Ranger Competitions - 1966, 1967, 1968, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1994
Winning 3 Color Guard Competitions – 1992, 1993, 1994
Awarded 3 Unit Citations
- 1978 – Lifesaving rescue of a hunter from a mine shaft
- 1980 – Outstanding service by a unit in all facets of the Civil Air Patrol program over several years
- 1994 – All around outstanding service
Awarded Squadron of Merit – 1994 for outstanding performance of a unit in membership growth and winning every squadron level competition in the Pennsylvania Wing
Establishment of the Alumni Association
On July 24, 2012, the 103 Alumni Association, Inc. was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization by the Commonwealth of PA. The primary purpose of this organization is to assist the squadron in enhancing and maintaining its health and prosperity which is rooted in its Cadet Program and Ranger Team. These programs are critical to 103’s development of dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders that are mentally, physically, and spiritually tough and intelligent. While Cadets at 103 always excelled in progressing through the Cadet and Ranger grades, it was the state of our mental, physical, and spiritual beings that prepared us for the world we would face as adults. As benefactors of the past, it is the alumni’s responsibility to support the present and enable the future. Through the 103 Alumni Association, we can work together to continue a legacy that over the past 70+ years, have significantly impacted an estimated 10,000+ Cadets.
Add to Our Story
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