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30 National Awards Recognize Organization’s Finest

Ill. Wing’s Lambert, Wash. Wing’s Le, Ga. Wing’s Crone Among Top Recipients

Civil Air Patrol’s finest were recognized today at the 2017 National Conference in San Antonio, with awards presented to CAP members for outstanding achievements within the ranks.

Among the top honorees are two CAP cadets who have just become members of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Class of 2021 — Cadet Col. Joshua S. Lambert of the Illinois Wing’s Palwaukee Composite Squadron, Cadet of the Year, and the Air Force Sergeants Association’s Cadet Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Mai E. Le of the Washington Wing’s Belllingham Composite Squadron.

Cadet of the Year
“When I began my CAP journey nearly 7½ years ago, I never could have envisioned myself as national Cadet of the Year or imagined the tremendous opportunities the cadet program would provide me,” said Lambert, who successfully took on such squadron positions as cadet commander and most recently adviser to the commander.

“This award means so much to me because it proves that you don’t have to be born extraordinary to obtain great success. On the contrary, anyone who works hard and is committed to the continual growth of themselves and those around them has the potential to achieve what they thought was never possible.”

Lambert’s organizational skills and command vision belie his young age. He was involved with the Illinois Wing’s Spring Encampment, having attended yearly since he joined CAP and eventually serving as cadet deputy commander and then cadet commander. He has earned his private pilot’s certificate in addition to qualifying as a CAP pilot able to take on real-world mission assignments. His emergency services activities included ground sorties with credit for finds.

What many found most impressive about Lambert, however, was his additional service at the neighboring Lake County Composite Squadron, where he took on the temporary assignment of mentoring cadets. His leadership led to promotions and advancements.

“My greatest accomplishment in CAP has been participating in the development of the next generation of cadets,” he said. “I remember how much of an influence my first cadet leaders had on my development, and am proud to have followed in their footsteps and engaged in the growth of our newest members.”

Lambert’s ultimate goal is to become a military pilot. He is well on his way to reaching this goal as one of the newest cadets at the Air Force Academy.

Cadet NCO of the Year
“The Air Force Sergeants Association Cadet NCO of the Year award is an incredible honor that I never thought of achieving,” Le said. “It’s a reflection of the hard work and dedication that I’ve put in with my CAP career. Additionally, it is also a reflection of the people who I’ve worked with over the years, because I am who my people are, who my leaders and who my followers are.”

Described as a natural-born leader, Le was charged in the Bellingham squadron with training new cadets before she headed off to the Air Force Academy this summer.

Le’s squadron commander says of her: “No matter the task, she is out front and in charge.” This was demonstrated when she took over color guard training when the senior member leader was unable to continue.At last year’s Cascade Falcon Summer Encampment XXI at Camp Casey in Coupeville, Washington, she received the Outstanding Mission Support Cadre Award. She also attended CAP’s Engineering Technologies Academy at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center in Orange, California, and the Regional Cadet Leadership School at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

“My favorite accomplishment in CAP to date is being able to serve at our local wing encampment during the summer of 2016 (Cascade Falcon XXI),” Le said. “The process to become a cadet cadre was competitive, and I didn’t get my first choice; however, I still got the opportunity to serve and learn throughout the week. I made new friends, learned new skills on organization, communication and ‘on your feet’ leadership.”

Le was also a participant in the Washington Aerospace Scholars Program, which included taking the Space and Space Travel course at the University of Washington in Seattle. In addition, she volunteered at the Heritage Flight Museum near Burlington, Washington.

Le learned about the NCO Cadet of the Year award while she was in the middle of basic cadet training, or BCT, at the Air Force Academy this summer. “BCT was easily the most challenging thing I’ve had to endure thus far in my life, and it was easy to forget how you got here and why you’re here,” she said.

“(Notice of) the award reminded me of my peers back home who were rooting for me, the young individuals who looked up to me and the hard work it took to get here,” she added. “For the remainder of BCT, the feeling of past accomplishments through CAP helped me stay resilient through the most difficult times and that made the award so much more meaningful for me.”

Besides Lambert and Le, other notable national award winners include the Senior Member of the Year, Lt. Col. James P. Crone of the Georgia Wing, and the Squadron of Distinction, the Virginia Wing’s Lynchburg Composite Squadron, represented by its commander, Capt. Peter Strubhar.

Senior Member of the Year
Crone, an active member of the Georgia Wing’s Group II, which consists of eight squadrons and more than 415 members, is a force in all of CAP’s three core missions — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. He is a former squadron and group commander and serves as the wing’s assistant government relations officer.

“As Senior Member of the Year, I hope my actions over the years call attention to how thousands of CAP volunteer professionals make meaningful contributions toward achievement of our core missions and thus a positive difference in our local communities,” he said.

Crone began his CAP career as a cadet in the Florida Wing. He has remained a strong advocate for CAP’s Cadet Programs, attending encampments and creating powered-flight and glider orientation opportunities for cadets as well as facilitating orientation flights for both cadets and teachers.

With multiple qualifications and ratings, his emergency services duties have included a number of missions through the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency and local agencies, including disaster relief operations following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Interested in seeing his fellow CAP members advance, Crone has personally submitted numerous nominations for awards, including establishing a Georgia Wing award for Recruiter of the Year. His work with Conyers Middle School in Rockdale County helped procure STEM Kits for students there and resulted in more than 60 new middle school CAP members in a single year. He regularly uses Facebook to recognize fellow CAP members’ accomplishments, a practice that is spreading throughout CAP.

Crone served last year as the Georgia Legislative Day project officer, assisting in securing state funding and initiating service recognitions for members of the Georgia Legislative Squadron. He has completed Level V of the CAP Professional Development Program and hold ratings in 14 specialty tracks.

“There are many accomplishments while volunteering with CAP I am proud of, but they were team efforts, not individual accomplishments,” Crone said. “To me, nothing is more satisfying than seeing a young person (or professional educator) positively impacted by an orientation flight.

“Facilitating orientation flights is something all CAP members can do, and there are times when one clearly sees the O-flight made a significant positive impact. At the same time, such moments remind us all of how volunteer service in CAP helps the local community,” he said.

Squadron of Distinction/F. Ward Reilly Leadership Award
As commander of the National Squadron of Distinction, Strubhar was today’s recipient of the F. Ward Reilly Leadership Award.

“Receiving the F. Ward Reilly Leadership Award is both an honor and humbling,” he said. “Even though is this award is presented to the squadron commander, it is earned through the dedication and support of the entire squadron … each individual working together as a whole.”

Emphasis on Cadet Programs paid big dividends for the Virginia Wing’s Lynchburg Composite Squadron in 2016. Cadet membership grew by 20 percent — 10 times the national rate and three times the wing’s rate — as the squadron maintains an active orientation flight program, meeting a strategic goal of putting at least 80 percent of new cadets on an orientation flight within 180 days of joining.

Well-balanced advancement for cadets at all levels is also required, providing a sustainable strong future for the Lynchburg squadron. Last year, an additional 12 of 34 cadets completed their milestone Wright Brothers Award, another three of 14 achieved the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award, another three of seven had received the Amelia Earhart Award and two more cadets secured the Gen. Ira C. Eaker Award, while two Eaker cadets are preparing to take their Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award exams.

Nearly 60 percent of the squadron’s cadets have attended at least one encampment, with 17 attending for the first time in 2016, when 12 cadets and five senior members of the Squadron served on the wing encampment staff.

Six of the squadron’s cadets have completed the Middle East Region Cadet Leadership School, one participated in Cadet Officers School and nine attended National Cadet Special Activities, with one of the squadron’s cadets selected as one of two wing cadets to travel as hosts with the visiting 2016 International Air Cadet Exchange contingent.

“We didn't seek out to win the Squadron of Distinction, but set a goal to achieve all criteria for Quality Cadet Unit Award,” Strubhar said. “Through working toward that goal, we achieved the Squadron of Distinction at both the region and national levels.”

Other 2017 national award winners:

Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year

  • Suzanne R. Costner, Tennessee Wing

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace AwardCadet Category

  • Cadet Capt. Casey W. Owen, Eau Claire Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award, Senior Member Category

  • Col. Richard J. Cooper, Challenger I Cadet Squadron, National Capital Wing

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award, Individual/Organization

  • Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, Arkansas Wing

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award, Lifetime Achievement Category

  • Lt. Col. Thomas S. Vreeland, Westchester Cadet Squadron I, New York Wing

Character Development Instructor of the Year

  • Maj. Carla J. Warnock, Coastal Composite Squadron, Virginia Wing

Communicator of the Year

  • Lt. Col. Edward J. Myzie, Raritan Valley Composite Squadron, New Jersey Wing

Colonel Dion E. DeCamp Ground Team of the Year

  • Group VI Ground Team, Texas Wing

Director of Finance of the Year

  • Maj. Steven T. Churchill, Headquarters, Indiana Wing

Drug Demand Reduction Wing of the Year

  • West Virginia Wing, Middle East Region

Drug Demand Reduction Member of the Year

  • Maj. Carlos E. Galarza, Munoz ANG Base Cadet Squadron, Puerto Rico Wing

Norm Edwards Counterdrug Officer of the Year

  • Col. William M. Nimmo, Headquarters, West Virginia Wing

Colonel Lester Hopper Historian of the Year

  • Lt. Col. David Brown, Headquarters, Georgia Wing

Major General Jeanne M. Holm Aerospace Education Officer of the Year

  • Lt. Col. Michael F. Castania, Headquarters, New Jersey Wing

Inspector General of the Year

  • Lt. Col. Robert F. Roy, Headquarters, Connecticut Wing

Colonel Edwin W. Lewis Jr. Incident Staff Member of the Year

  • Lt. Col. Gerald H. Krueger, Timmerman Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing

Colonel Robert V. “Bud” Payton Public Affairs Officer of the Year

  • Maj. Marian I. Motyl-Szary, Marco Island Senior Squadron, Florida Wing

Professional Development Officer of the Year

  • Lt. Col. George R. Murray Jr., Headquarters, Maryland Wing

Property Management Officer of the Year

  • Lt. Col. David A. Rudawitz, Headquarters, Oregon Wing

Safety Officer of the Year

  • Lt. Col. Keith W. Noe, Headquarters, Kentucky Wing

Senior Chaplain of the Year

  • Chaplain, Lt. Col. Adma A. Ross, Headquarters, Connecticut Wing

Chaplain of the Year

  • Chaplain, Lt. Col. Ivan C. Peacock, Sumner County Cadet Squadron 16, Tennessee Wing

John V. “Jack” Sorenson Cadet Programs Officer of the Year

  • Lt. Col. Ismael J. Rodriguez, Munoz ANG Base Cadet Squadron, Puerto Rico Wing

George Texido Legislative Officer of the Year

  • Lt. Col. James H. Matthews Jr., Headquarters, Michigan Wing

Paul W. Turner Safety Award

  • Louisiana Wing, Southwest Region