John W. McGaha, Spaatz #666, 1963 – 2014

Courtesy of Alisha Cope Christian via the TSA Facebook page.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of one our longtime friends in MER Cadet Programs, Lt Col John McGaha.

“LTC John McGaha passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family and friends. He fought his terrible disease courageously and with dignity.

LTC McGaha served Civil Air Patrol for over 37 years starting in the cadet program. He served in countless cadet positions at the squadron and Wing level and was the spirit behind the establishment of the Delaware Wing Diamond Flight Drill Team. John achieved the rank of Cadet Colonel and received the Spaatz Award (#666).

Lt Col John McGaha receives the National Outstanding Senior Member of the Year Award from Maj Gen Amy Courter during the 2008 CAP National Board Meeting.

John gave himself to the CAP program with true passion especially to the cadet program. Countless cadets in Delaware Wing saw John as a mentor with his dedication to developing the best cadets and creating the finest drill teams and color guards for the NCC. He demanded perfection from his team and cadets. John cared deeply about the cadet program. He always thought of it as giving back to the program that have him so much as a cadet. He was often to say ” Its all about the cadets”. John gave to the cadets to the end even while he was battling his illness that was taking his physical strength. Over the weeks countless former and current DEWG cadets visited him. His spirits were lifted as he talked about the drill teams and saw the success of his former cadets. He met with recent and current drill team cadets and encouraged them to excel as CAP cadets and reminded them how much that they have grown from being members if the CAP program.

John was a leader, mentor and friend to many across the country in Civil Air Patrol. We are all better for having known him.

Please keep Johns wife Jen, his 3 children and his family in your prayers in this difficult time.

I will pass along any information regarding services as they become available.”

Robert A. Hotchkiss Jr. Major CAP
Director of Cadet Programs
Delaware Wing Civil Air Patrol

Ed. Note: If you have additional information on John’s passing, or would like to share your stories of him, please add a comment below.

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2 comments to “John W. McGaha, Spaatz #666, 1963 – 2014”

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  1. Profile photo of TSA Webmaster

    TSA Webmaster - Apr 23, 2014

    Services are as follows:

    Thursday 24 APR: Visitation 1900-2100 Daniels and Hutchison Funeral Home 212 N. Broad St, Middletown DE 19709

    Friday 25 APR: Mass of Christian Burial- 1100 hours St. Josephs Catholic Church, 371 East Main Street. Middletown, DE 19709

    It is planned for current CAP members and former Diamond Flight members to process up a a group prior to the mass and sit together in a reserved section of the church. Just prior to the conclusion of the mass, uniformed CAP members. the color guard and past Diamond Flight members will form up outside the church for a final salute to LTC McGaha. Please arrive NLT 1045 hrs for a briefing.

    Internment will be at the St. Francis Xavier Shrine-Old Bohemia, Warwick MD

    Lunch will be at the Church hall in Middletown after internment.
    In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made for the family at any PNC Bank location, checks made payable to Jennifer McGaha. Online condolences can be sent at

    See more at:

  2. John B Brown Jr - May 10, 2014

    I am John B. Brown, Jr. Spaatz #794 and I had the great privilege of not only being in CAP with John McGaha not only when we were both cadets but also as senior members. I was also on three MER Cadet Competition championship teams and two NCC teams (I turned 21 between my last MER competition and what would have been my last NCC). Throughout my time competing in the MER or NCC competitions, John M. was always there as a cadet or senior member to provide a steadying voice and also to give us inspiration. He was, in many ways, responsible for my success in the Cadet Program. He prodded me to go to COS. He encouraged me to apply for IACE (which I was chosen for) and he even inspired me to continue with CAP as a senior member and advocated for me to start the senior program as a CAP Captain. Not only did he help me in CAP, he was a good friend that I had known for 30 years before his untimely passing. I will always be grateful for our friendship and I will always miss him.

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