A Rare Family of Leaders
3rd Member of N.J. Wing's Rogacki Family Earns Spaatz Award
By Alex Jacks
From Civil Air Patrol Volunteer
Civil Air Patrol takes pride in molding young minds and developing some of the nation’s top leaders in the United States. Most young people who pursue CAP activities do so with flying colors. Others, like the Rogacki siblings, surpass all expectations.
CAP Cadet Col. John Rogacki, 18, the youngest of the three Rogacki siblings, received the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award — the highest honor a CAP cadet can earn — in November. He followed his older brother, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Stephen Rogacki, 26, and sister, Army 1st Lt. Stasia Rogacki, 24, in earning the award as a member of the New Jersey Wing’s Curtiss-Wright Composite Squadron. He too plans to pursue a military career and is heading to West Point.
On average, only five cadets in every 1,000 earn the Spaatz award. Since its inception in 1964, CAP has presented the award to 2,091 cadets nationwide. Upon receiving the award, each cadet is given a Spaatz number, said Lt. Col. JD Ellis, Spaatz Association vice president.
John is Spaatz No. 2049, Stasia No. 1740 and Stephen No. 1736.
“What they have done is pretty rare,” he said. “There are probably no more than five families that have earned three Spaatz awards.”
The Rogackis became involved with CAP in New Jersey after Stephen expressed interest in learning to fly, said Maj. Stan Rogacki, the Spaatz recipients’ father.
“Stephen joined CAP in 2005, when he was in the eighth grade, with the encouragement of (retired U.S. Air Force) Lt. Col. Stephen Reithof,” said Maj. Rogacki, who later became the Curtiss-Wright squadron’s commander. “We would not have known about CAP if it were not for him. Stasia joined not long after. She saw her brother coming home from meetings and how much fun he was having.”
John followed in his brother’s and sister’s footsteps and joined CAP at 12, said their father.
Each sibling underwent the rigorous process necessary to complete the 16 achievements and four-part exam — consisting of a physical fitness test, an essay exam testing moral reasoning, a comprehensive written exam on leadership and a comprehensive written exam on aerospace education — to earn the Spaatz award.
"John and Stephen took approximately six years to complete the program,” Stan said. “Stasia took a little less time. She was the quickest. She was extremely focused on getting the next promotion throughout the program.”
Despite their different paces, Maj. Rogacki said each of his children personifies the definition of patriotism.
“They are all kind of quiet,” he said. “But they are all very patriotic in terms of serving their country. I credit that to parental influence from myself and my wife, Elizabeth, as well as their participation in CAP.”
Stephen, who serves as an Army cyber warfare officer, also credits his life’s success to his involvement in CAP.
“My time in CAP set a groundwork for leadership and character development that has carried through to my current role as a cyber warfare officer in the U.S. Army,” he said. “CAP helped me refine small unit leadership skills, communication skills and a moral base that are so vital to junior military leadership.”
Stasia agreed with her older brother. “Civil Air Patrol familiarized me with the standards, expectations and customs and courtesies of the military,” she said. “This helped tremendously during my cadet basic training at the U.S. Military Academy.”
Each of the Rogacki siblings created their own story and path with the help of CAP and the Spaatz award, their father said.
“I’m impressed and proud of the fact that they stayed with the CAP program and earned their Spaatz awards,” he said. “They would not be serving our country at this point if it was not for their CAP involvement.”