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Squadron History

Note: The following narrative history of the Herndon Composite Squadron has been transposed from available documentation. It is as complete a history as is available at this time. In order to present as comprehensive a history as possible, all current and past members of the squadron are encouraged to submit corrections, additions and photo's to fill in the gaps.
In late 1972 Dorothy “Dolly” Tuller, a special education teacher at Herndon Intermediate School and a former Civil Air Patrol Cadet, begins to organize a new CAP squadron with help from her husband, Steve Tuller, a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. Shortly thereafter on 16 February 1973 the Herndon Composite Squadron receives Charter Number 45117 from National Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol. Captain Dorothy Tuller is appointed as the first squadron commander. Meetings are held at Herndon Intermediate School in Dolly Tuller’s classroom. In November 1973 the first Awards ceremony for Herndon Composite Squadron is held at the school. Squadron membership consists of 10 Senior Members and 26 Cadets and by late 1974, squadron membership increases to over 20 Seniors and 60 Cadets.

During a practice CAP Search and Rescue mission in 1975, the search aircraft crashes in mountainous terrain. Squadron Operations Officer, Captain Jerry Long is severely injured, and co-pilot First Lieutenant Joseph Herbert is killed. On 5 March 1977, Squadron Commander and founder, Major Dorothy Tuller dies in a crash on takeoff from Bedford, Virginia after ferrying two senior members to pick up a CAP Cessna 172 from a maintenance shop. Later that same year, the squadron relocated to the Stone House at Dulles International Airport. It was a full ten years before the squadron was re-designated the Dulles Composite Squadron.

In 1992, expansion and renovations at Dulles Airport, combined with increased security concerns during the Persian Gulf War, forced the squadron out of the Stone House. Through the generosity of Page Aviation (now Signature Flight Services), the squadron used the conference room of the FBO for its meetings until a new home could be found. The disruption caused by this move reduced the squadron’s membership to 5 seniors and a handful of cadets – about what it had started with 20 years earlier. At that point, the squadron was in serious danger of disbanding.

In the fall of 1992, the squadron found a new home, and in January 1993, relocated to the Virginia Army National Guard Armory in Leesburg Virginia. This new facility was much better suited to the needs of the squadron and its weekly activities. Being located across the street from the Leesburg Municipal Airport was an added benefit. After a settling in period, the squadron began to show new signs of life. In the fall of 1993 the squadron changed its name again, to better reflect its location. The squadron’s membership started to grow dramatically. By March 1996, the squadron’s membership consisted of 29 seniors and 21 cadets.

By 2016, the membership had grown to 190 members, nearly 70 seniors and over 120 cadets, the largest number of cadets in any CAP composite squadron.  Because the Heart of CAP, the local squadron, is composed of citizen volunteers from its surrounding communities, a group composed of primarily Leesburg members from the Herndon area were supported in their effort to restart a Herndon Squadron at Rachel Carson Middle School, not far from the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. 

In just over twenty years since making their home in Leesburg, the Leesburg Composite Squadron was instrumental in the new Herndon Composite Squadron's First Flight to charter in December 2016, with most of the initial twenty members previously active in Leesburg.

The Herndon Composite Squadron is now the closest Virginia Wing squadron to more than a half million northern Virginia residents.  With nearly 50 members in our first few months being chartered, we are proud to be back home where we started 44 years ago, and look forward to remaining a part of this wonderful community for years to come.