Las Vegas, Nevada - Civil Air Patrol has a new national commander and CEO – Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez of Henrico, Virginia, sworn in Friday at the organization's 2014 National Conference.

“It will be my privilege to lead the team of national staff, wing and region commanders who make CAP simply the best nonprofit corporation in the country today,” said Vazquez, minutes after taking the guidon as national commander.

Vazquez, who previously served as national vice commander for three years, succeeds Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr. Brig. Gen. Larry Myrick of San Luis Obispo, California, a past commander of CAP's Pacific Region, was sworn in as national vice commander.

As CAP’s 23rd national commander, Vazquez will lead 60,000 volunteers across the nation in fulfilling the organization’s three congressionally chartered missions – emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. The national commander presides over the CAP Command Council.

He is the first national commander chosen by the Board of Governors, the organization's governing body, in CAP’s 72-year history. The new selection process became official in October 2012 when the BoG approved an updated Constitution and Bylaws incorporating the organization’s new governance structure. Previously, commanders were elected by a majority vote of the organization’s National Board, a predecessor of the Command Council.

“My initial focus will be on member and mission development,” said Vazquez. “But rest assured, any changes contemplated are evolutionary and not revolutionary. My predecessors, and in particular General Carr, helped grow the organization to what it is today, a modern and sophisticated corporation.”

Vazquez joined CAP as a Georgia Wing cadet in 1975. During nearly four decades of service, he has served as commander at every level, including service as Middle East Region commander from 2008-2011.

He also commanded the Virginia Wing from 2001-2003, the Virginia Wing’s Group 4 from 1993-1995 and the Maryland Wing’s Wicomico Composite Squadron from 1990-1992. He was cadet commander of Georgia Wing’s Warner Robins Composite Squadron from 1976-1978.

A CAP command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours, Vazquez is a single and multi-engine commercial pilot and also a Federal Aviation Administration commercial-rated glider instructor pilot.

Before his brief remarks Friday, Vazquez introduced three members of his command staff – Executive Officer Col. Larry Ragland, Inspector General Col. Tom Kettell and Chief of Legal Corps Maj. Gen. Dwight Wheless.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Performing missions for America for over 72 years, CAP will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in the coming months in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit, and for more information.