NC State Serving as National Silver Wings Headquarters for 2022-23
Silver Wings is a national student governed organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable and effective civic leaders through community service and education about national defense.
During the 2022-23 academic year, NC State is serving as the national headquarters for Silver Wings, which provides leadership and oversight for approximately 450 members in 37 chapters across the nation. Additionally, Ryan Wagoner ’23 and Emily Dettmer ’25 are serving as the national president and vice president, respectively.
Members of NC State’s Martha E. Metz chapter of Silver Wings secured the bid for the national headquarters during the National Conclave for Silver Wings and the Arnold Air Society in Washington, D.C. last spring. Silver Wings is a national student governed organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable and effective civic leaders through community service and education about national defense. Members are graduate or undergraduate students and do not have to be Air Force ROTC cadets.
By hosting the national staff, NC State directly created leadership roles for students at a national level. This also indirectly allows other members to step into the local leadership roles, since several members will be moving from the local chapter roles to national roles. Silver Wings has a positive impact on NC State by creating opportunities to allow students to transition to military, government and industry roles after graduation by improving skill sets in public speaking, interviewing, civic engagement, advocacy and networking.
Maj Meagan E. Capra, assistant professor of aerospace studies for NC State’s Air Force Det 595, will serve as university advisor for both the local Silver Wings chapter and national leadership team.
“I am an intelligence officer by trade and the newest addition to the Det 595 Cadre,” Capra said. “Although I have not participated in Arnold Air Society or Silver Wings before, I have heard incredible things about the organizations and specifically about the leadership our NC State team brings to both the local and national levels. My role as an advisor is to use my experience to provide them counsel and guidance in achieving their goals and priorities. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to advise and support these students and I’m looking forward to witnessing the impact they will have in the community and beyond.”
Serving as the national headquarters for Silver Wings is the latest in a long list of achievements for the Martha E. Metz chapter of Silver Wings at NC State. This past year, the chapter was recognized at the National Conclave for largest growth (800%) in a chapter. Additionally, NC State Silver Wings member and senior Air Force ROTC cadet Tony Capelo was one of 10 students selected nationwide for a summer Pentagon internship, where he worked in the Legislative Affairs office for the secretary of the Air Force.
Meet the President and Vice President
Ryan Wagoner didn’t know he wanted to join Air Force ROTC until he came to NC State for orientation. Now, he is serving as national president for Silver Wings.
“I’ve known my whole life I wanted to serve and that I wanted to go to college to pursue a degree, but I never put two and two together that ROTC would be the perfect fit for me,” he explained. “I decided Air Force ROTC would match up with the curriculum I had chosen with aerospace engineering, so I went and talked to the commander after orientation was over.”
Wagoner led the effort to secure the bid for NC State to serve as the national headquarters at the National Conclave in Washington, D.C. last spring.
“I’m super excited that NC State has the opportunity to show our leadership to the nation and be a part of the legacy that is Silver Wings,” Wagoner said. “I’ve grown a lot through Air Force ROTC and was looking for a big way to prove it to myself, and I figured this would be the best opportunity I would have. I like the challenge that comes with leadership and am super excited for the upcoming year.”
Emily Dettmer grew up in a military family and spent her high school years living on military bases in Italy. While living on base, Dettmer attended the Department of Defense Education Activity school where she joined JROTC. Despite being reluctant to join at first, she ended up loving the experience, became a member of the rifle team and rose to the rank of company commander.
“After such a positive experience in JROTC, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the Air Force, since I am interested in applying to the Astronaut Training Program and a lot of astronauts have a military background,” Dettmer said. “I also figured I could learn a lot from being in the Air Force as well as serve my country. Hence, I joined the Air Force ROTC program here at NC State! In the end, I was medically disqualified due to an allergy, but I still wanted to stay involved with the program since I love it so much, so that’s why I joined Silver Wings!”
Dettmer now serves as vice president for national organization.
“Serving in a leadership role at the National level is honestly a little intimidating,” Dettmer said. “It means a lot to me personally, though, given my journey from JROTC to now. I feel as though I’ve grown a lot through the program, and I’m giving back to it in a way!”
During their tenure as president and vice president, Wagoner and Dettmer hope to increase the total sum of service hours completed this year. They also want to grow membership to 40 active chapters across the nation and improve the bond between their sister organization, the Arnold Air Society.