Barry Melton dedicated to volunteerism
by LUCIE R. WILLSIE, Associate Editor
Jan 28, 2013 | 1304 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Personality Profile: Melton
Barry Melton
view slideshow (3 images)
Barry Melton has devoted most of his life to volunteer service, through membership in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, commonly known as the Civil Air Patrol, and serving in media-related areas in his local church.

He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelors in recording industry management. He also has earned a masters in television production and programming and media management from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.

Melton has worked for Life Care Centers of America for almost 20 years. He currently is the director of Virtual Tour Development. He also teaches part-time at Lee University.

He claims to be “pretty boring,” but considering what he does, on the go non-stop, that’s hard to believe. His free time, which he doesn’t really have much of, he spends with his wife, Brenda, and his daughter, Breanna, 14, a cadet with the local Civil Air Patrol squadron. He also loves photography and has spent almost 30 years as one of the audio engineers at Westmore Church of God. In 2012, he was honored to receive the church’s “H.D. Williams Award,” an annual award given to an individual or couple that has made a “significant impact” on the ministry of the church.

In the CAP, Melton holds the rank of colonel and serves as one of two Southeast Region vice commanders, being assigned the position almost two years ago in May 2011. He is part of a four-person command staff that executes missions, policies and objectives for the organization. CAP has three Congressionally mandated “missions” — cadet training, aerospace education and emergency services. There are more than 10,000 CAP members in the region he helps oversee.

Specifically, Melton oversees CAP activities in three states — Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

“I stay in close contact with those three states,” he said. “They’re my territories.” Three additional states make up CAP’s Southeast region — Tennessee, Florida and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The other vice commander oversees those states. Both vice commanders answer to the region commander who lives in Tampa, Fla.

“I get to go to a lot of places,” Melton said. But his trips for the CAP are usually just for a weekend — literally leaving on Friday and back on Sunday, then back to work at Life Care Monday.

Before this assignment, Melton served as the Tennessee wing commander from March 2007 to March 2011.

He considers one of his most exciting accomplishments as wing commander to be the establishment of the Tennessee Civic Leadership Academy, based on an existing cadet leadership program held annually in Washington, D.C. Top cadets from across Tennessee were selected to go to Nashville for three days of exposure to state government, and the making of public policy.

State Rep. Kevin Brooks, also a CAP member, was instrumental in getting this program up and running. During the Leadership Academy, one day is devoted to senior members, as well as cadets, meeting with their state representatives and senators in the elected officials’ offices at the Capitol.

“I’ve patterned these programs after the national [CAP] programs ... These cadets are the future of this nation,” he said. “I was really very proud to get this accomplished.”

He also produced a series of online radio communication training videos which are used nationwide by CAP members wishing to be qualified to use radio equipment the Air Force provides for emergency services and aircraft communications.

One of his most embarrassing, yet funniest, as well as proudest experiences was when he was on a plane on his way back from one of his day trips for CAP. Since it was a day trip, he wore his uniform all day, not being able to change into “civies” (civilian clothes) for the trip back home.

Toward the end of the flight, the flight attendant asked the flyers to give a big round of applause for the Air Force officer flying with them to thank him for his service.

Well .... Melton, still strapped in his seat with the seat belt, tried to stand up as much as he could, to get a glimpse of the military hero. He looked around and around, but couldn’t spot him — until he finally realized the entire plane was clapping for him.

Embarrassed, he had to try to set the record straight with the flight attendant before he left the airplane that day.

“But we are civilians,” Melton said. “We represent the Air Force, yes, but we aren’t in the military ... I was very embarrassed ... All I could think to say was ‘Thank you.’”

But whenever he talks with fellow CAP members, he makes sure they know they represent the Air Force when they are in uniform and they need to make sure they show their Air Force partners the respect they deserve by wearing their uniform properly.

Melton believes his love of quasi-military service has its roots at Bradley Central High School, when he joined JROTC in 1974. He remained a member throughout high school, serving as the Cadet Battalion Commander his senior year. He had thoughts of joining the military after high school, but strict medical requirements kept him out of the service.

In 1986, Melton was a charter member of Cleveland’s CAP squadron, later becoming the unit commander. On the local level, Melton helped coordinate CAP’s participation in Operation Christmas Child. The year of 1999 was the first year CAP partnered with Life Care to assist with packing shoeboxes on the annual collection day. Area CAP units now look forward to each November when 50-70 CAP members come from as far away as Knoxville and Tullahoma to participate in this charitable cause.

Melton is a member of the Cleveland Media Association, for which he was president in 2011. In December 2007, Melton was awarded the CMA’s annual “Excellence in Communication” award.