Virginia Wing
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Wing Commander

Commander - Colonel Elizabeth Sydow

Colonel Elizabeth “Liz” Sydow is the Commander of Civil Air Patrol’s Virginia Wing. In this role, she provides leadership and mentorship to the wing’s 1,700 adult and teen members and ensures accomplishment of CAP’s missions in the wing. She is also responsible for the wing’s budget consisting of federal, state and corporate funds, and manages the wing’s strategic goals.

Connect with Col. Sydow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! (@vawgcc)

On 1 March 2019, Colonel Sydow became Civil Air Patrol’s first National Diversity Officer, holding the position until 25 May 2021.  In this role, she advised the National Commander and staff on the impact of diversity on mission effectiveness, recruiting and retention, organizational progress, and actions to promote diversity.

Col. Sydow joined CAP as a cadet in 1978, progressing through the cadet program and earning the General Carl A. Spaatz Award in 1987, CAP’s highest youth program award. She is a 1988 distinguished graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s ROTC program. 

Prior to assuming her current position, Col. Sydow served in a variety of roles at the wing level including vice commander, chief of staff, and plans and programs officer. She has also served as a cadet programs officer, squadron deputy commander for cadets, professional development officer and squadron commander in four different wings.  

Col. Sydow is a CAP liaison officer at the National Response Recovery Center, recently serving during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Florence.  She has served eleven times on the staff of encampment, a week-long training program for CAP cadets. She served as commander and deputy commander, as well as planned four of the events as project officer. She has planned three wing conferences, one of which was a joint conference with another wing and region with 500 participants.

She is a retired Air Force colonel, serving on active duty as a civil engineer from January 1989 through February 2000 before transferring to the Air Force Reserve.  Her active duty service includes positions on squadron and major command civil engineer staffs and as an instructor of readiness and engineering management at the Civil Engineer School at the Air Force Institute of Technology.  

As a Reservist, she served as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee at squadron, group, and major command; as a Traditional Reservist on a Civil Engineer Staff Augmentation Team; and as an Active Guard/Reserve officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  She served on active duty tours including Commander, 90th Civil Engineer Squadron; Deputy Commander, 90th Mission Support Group; Deputy Commander, 50th Mission Support Group; and on the Air Force Space Command civil engineer staff.  She retired from active duty on 1 January 2016 after 27 years of service.

Col. Sydow is married with three children. 


1988 Bachelor of Science, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, PA
1993 Masters of Science, Technology Management, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, SD
1993 Squadron Officers School (residence), Maxwell AFB, AL
2005 Air Command and Staff College (non-residence), Maxwell AFB, AL
2008 Air War College (non-residence), Maxwell AFB, AL
2012 Advanced Joint Professional Military Education, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA


Defense Superior Service Medal

Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal
National Defense Service Medal with one device
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster

Air Force Longevity Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with hourglass and 2 “M” devices


Distinguished Service Award

Exceptional Service Award with three devices

Meritorious Service Award with four devices

National Commander’s Commendation Award

Wing Commander’s Commendation Award with seven devices

Achievement Award


Command, Master Rating

Cadet Programs, Master Rating

Professional Development, Master Rating

Personnel, Master Rating

Administration, Master Rating

Finance, Senior Rating

Aerospace Education, Technician Rating

Communications, Technician Rating

Emergency Services, Technician Rating

Safety, Technician Rating


Incident Commander Level 3

Operations Section Chief

Planning Section Chief

Air Operations Branch Director

Ground Branch Director

Logistics Section Chief

Mission Observer

Mission Scanner

Mission Radio Operator

Mission Staff Assistant

Point of Distribution

Shelter Field Guide Course

Urban Direction Finding


Joint Qualified Officer, Level III
Air War College “Excellent” Graduate (non-residence), 2008
Gill Robb Wilson Award, 2008
Yeager Award, 1994
General Carl A. Spaatz Award, #836, 1985
Second Degree Black Belt, Tae Kwon Do, 2016


Copy of biography (click here).

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