Marek honored by Civil Air Patrol

Marek honored by Civil Air Patrol Civil Air Patrol Lieutenant Colonel Michael Marek, of Vermillion, was presented with the organization's Exceptional Service Award on Saturday, Dec. 6.

The award, authorized by CAP's North Central Region Commander Colonel Rex E. Glasgow of Cedar Rapids, IA, recognizes Marek's innovative efforts beginning in 1995 to use e-mail and the World Wide Web for membership recruitment, exchange of information, and public relations.

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the official Air Force auxiliary with more than 64,000 volunteer members nationwide. It performs 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief, and counter drug missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies.

In 1995 and 1996 Marek created national listservs dealing with CAP's two-way radio communications and public relations/marketing programs. These discussion groups, which are still active today, have become the home of CAP volunteer practitioners from across the country to share ideas and mentor each other.

Marek also manages a statewide listserv for the South Dakota level of the organization, known as South Dakota Wing. The message system is now considered to be an indispensable tool for administration of the CAP organization in South Dakota.

Marek's professional background also includes experience in using the Internet in support of non-profit organizations. In 1997 he created the www.sdwg.cap.gov Web site which today uses advanced marketing principles to tell the organization's story to the general public, and a password protected secure Intranet for sensitive internal information for members.

In addition to general information, the Web site provides search mission updates to the public and news media. During a May 2003 CAP search for a missing gyroplane, traffic to the Web site increased tenfold as people sought out the regular mission updates.

The Exceptional Service Award citation, written by CAP Lieutenant Colonel Don Barbalace of Aberdeen, states that "Marek held ultimate responsibility for this complex and long-term project and without his resourcefulness and persistence, it certainly would not have been accomplished."

The citation notes that Marek's efforts have benefited South Dakota and the national CAP, as well as agencies that work with CAP.

"I concur 100 percent with Lt. Col. Barbalace's citation. Marek has been an integral part of this South Dakota public affairs team," said First Lieutenant Michael Odle, South Dakota Public Affairs Officer.

Marek joined CAP in 1984. He worked for over a decade as a broadcast journalist, later performing fund raising and public relations duties for South Dakota Public Broadcasting, The University of South Dakota Foundation, and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

He is currently a doctoral candidate at The University of South Dakota and an adjunct faculty member in the University's Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism.

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