The Command Staff of South Carolina Wing consists of the following leaders:
Wing Commander -
Col Chris Peterson served as the Vice Commander for Operations, SC Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) a position which he had held since 2018. In this position, he was the Commander representative for all Operations matters involving: Flight Operations, Emergency Services, Communications, and Aircraft Maintenance. His duties were to set and review strategic operations programs and guide the overall operations team directors into synergy. He was also responsible for guiding the wing’s annual inspection between the squadrons, groups, logistics and communications. His previous duties have also included Vice Commander-Units where he over-saw each Squadron, Flight, and lead to the redevelopment of the Groups. He has also served as the Wing’s Chief of Staff, where he created a Unit Commander guiding calendar with all required reports and actions for a Squadron Commander listed in a single document calendar and developed and coined the name of the Wing’s first reoccurring publication – “The Palmetto Flyer," calling on both definitions of the term Flyer. Additionally, Peterson has served as Director of Operations, Standards and Evaluation Officer, Director of Cadet Programs, and Group Commander. He has also filled-in the role of acting Director of Aerospace Education, Logistics, and Communications.
Peterson has earned his Wilson award having graduated from the 2020 National Staff College and 2010 Southeast Region Staff College. He holds a Master of Aerospace Science with an emphasis concentration in Human Factors and Graduate Safety Certificate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Additionally, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Pre-Med from the College of Charleston. With over 3500 hours of flying, he holds his Multi Engine-Airline Transport Pilot, Flight Instructor Airplane and Instrument. He has attended the in-residence G1000 Transition and Instructor course at Cessna Aircraft in Independence, KS and is a CAP Check Pilot, Instructor, and Mission Pilot.
Peterson has uniquely served in major wing programs at the Wing level in all three major missions. As a former Cadet, Peterson has a unique perspective of CAP in general standing by his motto to give the cadets leadership opportunities and allow them to fail in a safe and constructive environment to guide and amplify learning. For 6 years he worked as the Director of Cadet Programs. During his tenure, he worked to increase the success of encampment. By doing so, he redeveloped the biannual Cadet Training Weekend (CTW) from a cadet basic program into a mini Encampment. The program was moved from a middle school gymnasium to the SC Army National Guard facility which hosts Encampment. Additionally, he added an extra staff only training program to further develop the cadet and senior staff to increase their ability to serve on Wing staff at the Encampment and become more successful leaders at the unit. The addition of ES and AE training flights for cadets who already had a basic encampment but were not yet ready for the burdens of leadership helped grow the overall Encampment numbers.
His contributions to the Aerospace Education mission have been indirect while occupying other positions. As Chief of Staff and Director of Operations he created the “Storm the Yorktown” annual Wing Wide visit to the Patriots Point museum, home of the USS Yorktown WWII Aircraft Carrier and USS Laffey WWII Destroyer, the little ship that wouldn’t sink, in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Peterson also provided the leadership towards Cadet Orientation Flying both powered and glider. When under his leadership these programs have excelled with most units beating the 70 and 80% requirements.
Peterson is highly experienced in Emergency Services holding multiple Ground Team, Aircrew, and Mission Base staff credentials with the highest in each category being Ground Team Leader, Mission Pilot, and Incident Commander. He also serves as a Skills Evaluator Trainer (SET) for these levels and enjoys working with the cadets and mentoring young to the program mentors. As an immature Incident Commander, he guided the SC Wing’s America Shield program where SC Wing provides aerial targets for the 263rd Air and Missile Defense unit in SC for their re-certification. SC Wing’s contributions allows the Command and Control staff to determine who is a friend versus foe when radar signatures converge. As a CFI, he pushed hard to return Cadet Flight Training to SC Wing after a 17-year hiatus resulting in back to back Encampments where he soloed a total of 4 cadet student pilots in approximately 10 hours. He has also helped multiple CAP members gain their advanced ratings while flying CAP aircraft without personal compensation.
Peterson is the Design Engineering Manager and Business Development at a Department of Defense contract support firm located in Charleston, SC. When he is not working or doing CAP, Peterson enjoys flight instruction, spending time with his family, kayaking and fishing.
Vice Commander--Lt Col Mitch Monroe, CAP
Lt Col Mitch Monroe serves as the Vice Wing Commander, South Carolina Wing. Lt Col Monroe joined SCWG in 2019 and served in the Sumter Composite Squadron. At the squadron level, Lt Col Monroe performs in several duty positions, including Aerospace Education Officer and Emergency Services Training Officer. Lt Col Monroe also actively supports the SC Wing as the Small Unmanned Aerial Systems program manager, a member of Volunteer University, and holds operational qualifications for Airborne Photographer, Mission Scanner, and Ground Team Leader. His CAP awards include a Region Commander’s Commendation Award (2019), SCWG Senior Member of the Year (2020), and Col Dion DeCamp Ground Team of the Year (2019). Lt Col Monroe is actively working through Level 4 of the Civil Air Patrol Education & Training program, and brings with him lessons learned through professional military education including NCO Leadership School, Squadron Officer’s School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College. Lt Col Monroe has also earned two master’s degrees, a bachelor’s degree, and an associate degree.
Lt Col Monroe retired from active duty in 2017 as a Colonel, having served 36 years in the US Air Force. His last assignment was as the Deputy Inspector General, HQ Air Mobility Command. Before that, he served as the Deputy Commander, NATO Multinational Force Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, and has commanded at the group and squadron levels. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1981 and served with Tactical Air Control Parties supporting the 18th Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 75th Ranger Regiment. During his enlisted service, then Staff Sergeant Monroe earned a Master Parachutist rating with more than 90 jumps from a dozen different military aircraft. After earning his commission through Officers’ Training School, Lt Col Monroe served as a tactical airlift navigator on the C-130 Hercules where he earned his Master Navigator rating, logging over 3,300 hours. In an expeditionary combat support role, he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan four times and led Contingency Response Groups into combat zones and in support of multiple humanitarian response operations worldwide.
Chief of Staff - Lt Col Nikki Shaffner
Lt Col Nikki Shaffner currently serves as the Wing Chief of Staff and as the National Volunteer University Level V Onsite Assistant Chair. She most recently served as Wing Vice Commander for Units. Lt Col Shaffner earned her Gen Billy Mitchell Award as a Cadet in Michigan Wing before she transitioned to a senior member in the Illinois Wing. She then went on to serve as a Group Commander and Assistant Inspector General in Ohio Wing. She moved to South Carolina in 2014 and served as the Wing Inspector General before joining the Command Team.
Lt Col Shaffner is a 2016 graduate of the National Inspector General College and a 2017 graduate of National Staff College. In 2017 she achieved Level V and earned the Gill Robb Wilson Award (3451). She has a Master of Business Administration in Management from Walsh University and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management.
Lt Col Shaffner holds a Master Rating in six specialty tracks – Cadet Programs, Command, Inspector General, Personnel, Professional Development, and Administration and Senior Ratings in Plans and Programs and Public Affairs. She also has mission qualifications as a Public Information Officer, Finance/Admin Section Chief, Mission Safety Officer, and UDF/Ground Team Member.
Lt Col Shaffner is employed by Apex Tool Group as a Buyer/Planner. She has served on the Board of Directors for VOCI (2012-2014), as a Volunteer/Trainer for Youth for Understanding (2010-2020), and currently serves her church as a trustee and soloist.
Deputy Chief of Staff - Vacant
Deputy Chief of Staff -- Capt Rachael J. Mercer
Capt Rachael J. Mercer serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Mission Support. She has served as the South Carolina Wing Public Affairs Officer since 2018, and has previously served as the PAO for the ACE Basin Composite Squadron (2019-2021) and Low Country Composite Squadron (2015-2019). Additionally, she served as the Commander of the ACE Basin Composite Squadron before joining the Command Staff.
Capt Mercer has completed Level 4 of Civil Air Patrol's Education & Training Program, and is a 2020 graduate of the Great Lakes Region Staff College. She was named the 2018 Civil Air Patrol National Public Affairs Officer of the Year. In 2019 she was named the South Carolina Wing Senior Member of the Year. Her squadron was named the 2020 SCWG Squadron of Merit and she was a member of the 2020 SCWG Col Dion DeCamp Ground Team of the Year.
Capt Mercer continues to serve in many levels of Civil Air Patrol. She is a member of the 80th Anniversary Working Group at the National Level, while serving in the South Carolina Wing as the kitchen staff director for every Encampment & Cadet Training Weekend in South Carolina since Spring 2016. She has served over 20,000 plates in that time period and enjoys the servant leadership opportunities like this that CAP has provided.
Capt Mercer also volunteers with Georgia 4-H and at her church, where her husband is the pastor. She has been married for 21 years and has four children—three of whom are cadets in the Civil Air Patrol program.
Wing Command NCO - MSgt C. Dan McManus
MSgt C. Dan McManus serves as the South Carolina Wing Non-Commissioned Officer. MSgt McManus joined Civil Air Patrol in 1988 as a cadet in the South Carolina Wing and as a cadet completed eight encampments, the Middle East Region Cadet Leadership School, Basic and Advanced Hawk Mountain, and Region Cadet Competition. Rising to the rank of C/Maj he served as the Cadet Commander of Lexington Composite Squadron and the 1992 South Carolina Wing Summer Encampment Cadet Commander.
In 1993 MSgt McManus enlisted in the USAF, serving as a C-141B Crew Chief, C-141B Flight Engineer, and KC-10A Flight Engineer. As a Flight Engineer, he served as an Instructor and Evaluator, culminating more than 4600 hours of flight time and 11 deployments while traveling around the world with Air Mobility Command. MSgt McManus’s Air Force decorations include the Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Iraq Campaign Medal.
In 2009 MSgt McManus separated from the US Air Force, initially working for Siemens Energy as the North American Region Training Coordinator, although since 2013 he has worked for EcoPower, a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and ST Engineering, where currently he is the Manager of Implementation and Training, globally responsible for new customer implementation, training, and curriculum.
Since returning to Civil Air Patrol in 2018, he has completed one encampment as a Training Officer, served as Cadre for the Mid-Atlantic Region Honor Guard Academy, and attended the National Emergency Services Academy. He is currently the South Carolina Wing Command NCO and Mid-Atlantic Region Honor Guard Academy Deputy Commandant.
MSgt McManus holds two Associates degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, and a Bachelor and Master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The Wing Commander has overall responsibility for all operations in the Wing.
The Vice Commander is able to represent the Wing Commander during his absence. The Chief of Staff is also able to represent the Wing Commander as necessary.
The Deputy Chiefs of Staff each report to the Chief of Staff and have directorates and staff positions which report to them.
The Command NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) advises the Wing Commander and other Command Staff about protocol, and acts in an advisory capacity at the Wing level.