JOPLIN, Mo. — The Civil Air Patrol has a new leader for its Joplin squadron. The move became official earlier tonight during a change of command ceremony.

The new leader brings with him more than 20 years of military and leadership experience.

“It’s a longstanding military tradition so that there’s a continuity of command so everyone in the squadron, everyone in the unit knows that this torch has been passed,” said Major Henry Cole, Outgoing Commander of Mo 143 Col Travis Hoover Composite Squadron.

The Colonel Travis Hoover Raiders Civil Air Patrol Squadron MO 143 has passed the baton.

“What it means to me is very much a privilege and an honor to be asked and approached to assume command,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Sidenstricker, Commanding Officer, “This opportunity will allow me to provide some training to the cadets. I will get to share my operational experience and flying and being in a leadership and management role. I’m looking forward to joining this team of leaders in teaching and educating our young cadets.”

Lieutenant Sidenstricker enlisted in the Navy in 1986 and served for 22 years.

“When I was active duty military that was always an aspiration. Although I was promoted to commander, I never received command of a squadron. This is something that’s kind of special and a huge responsibility. My number one priority is safety and specifically the safety of our cadets,” said Lt. Sidenstricker.

He hopes to continue growing the squadron like his predecessor.

“The squadron has grown from 25 members to 51 members, so we doubled in size at a time when squadrons across the state and across the country were losing members. When I took over the squadron we didn’t have an aircraft assigned to us, now we do. We did not have a van, which is critical for transporting cadets and seniors to events and exercises. We’ve increased meeting space we have available to us,” said Major Cole.

The squadron now has 52 members.

Commander Sidenstricker will be in charge for the next four years.