Brothers Achieve First for CAP Spaatz Award
Colo. Wing's Todd Trio Achieves Top Cadet Honor Simultaneously
By I. Suzanne Anderson
The world has many famous trios — the Three Musketeers, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Bee Gees, the Three Tenors and even Charlie’s Angels all come to mind without much thought. And now Civil Air Patrol can claim its own prestigious threesome — the Todd brothers from Lewis, Colorado.
On Jan. 7, the talented trio made history when they passed their Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award examinations and earned CAP’s highest cadet honor —all at the same time. Twins Kaleb and Nathaniel, both 19, and brother Brendan, 18, are members of the Mesa Verde Cadet Squadron based in nearby Pleasant View.
But the record almost didn’t happen.
“Overall, it took me two attempts to earn the award. I failed my first attempt last August, passing the physical fitness and essay tests but falling just shy of the leadership and aerospace portions,” said Nathaniel, Spaatz award recipient No. 2081.
Kaleb, Spaatz recipient No. 2082, also encountered challenges. “On Oct. 1, 2016, I passed the physical fitness and essay portions of the Spaatz exam. I had to wait 60 days to retake the aerospace and leadership sections, so I took it on Jan. 7, 2017, with my brothers.”
Even sitting for the exam is a tedious process, said Lt. Col. Debrah Archer, commander of the Mesa Verde squadron.
“They must go through a rigorous set of reviews and approvals before they can take the online tests, which must be witnessed by a certified proctor. In addition, they must progressively achieve the credentials in accordance with the superchart and wait eight weeks before attempting the next progression,” Archer said.
The twins started the brothers’ venture into CAP when they learned about the organization from a relative.
“I was interested in aviation, and he discovered the cadet program and told me about it. I was thrilled to learn there was a local squadron and attended a meeting,” Kaleb said.
Brendan, Spaatz recipient No. 2083, added, “I thought it would be fun. I could wear a uniform and would be appreciated for my achievement.”
“As a 14-year-old, I was already attracted to airplanes, and the website said that dedicated cadets were given a chance for pilot training. I visited a local squadron and was instantly hooked,” Nathaniel said.
The trio’s success didn’t start with the Spaatz award. Each brother has achieved numerous accolades on the way, which helped him prepare for the cadet program’s top award.
“In my home squadron, Mesa Verde Cadet, I have served in the positions of flight sergeant, flight commander, cadet aerospace officer and cadet commander. I currently assist the cadet commander — Brendan — as an adviser in his duties as commander,” said Kaleb, a biochemistry major/pre-med major at Fort Lewis College in Durango.
Twin Nathaniel, an engineering major at Fort Lewis College, also has a list of impressive credentials.
“I have been a flight sergeant, flight commander, cadet aerospace officer and cadet deputy commander. Even though college and work now take up most of my time, I am still the cadet aerospace officer for my squadron, and I am loving every minute of it.”
A junior at Life Independent School, Brendan also has several cadet accolades.
“I have been guidon bearer, flight sergeant, flight commander, cadet public affairs officer, cadet leadership officer, CAC representative and cadet commander,” he said.
The brothers had many choices to pick from in terms of leadership programs — like the Boy Scouts — but they felt that the CAP cadet program was the complete package.
“Civil Air Patrol is unique in that the cadet program fosters an enthusiasm for aviation among its members. As an aspiring pilot, this really attracted me to the program. Because I was also planning on serving in the military, the cadet program appealed to me, with its Air Force roots in drill, ceremonies and core values,” Kaleb said.
For Nathaniel, the appeal of promotion through achievement drew him to program.
“I found out that the higher you achieved, the more opportunities you gained. For instance, if I was graduated from a basic training encampment, then I could become a cadet officer or attend special training camps (National Cadet Special Activities). One of the NCSAs is a flight academy. And, if I made cadet officer, then I could enlist in the Air Force at a higher pay grade. All this stuff kept me in the organization through to the senior cadet ranks,” he said.
Brendan shared a different aspect of the CAP.
“The Civil Air Patrol promotes excellence in the growth of knowledge, and it gave me an introduction to the military. At both basic encampment and NCSAs, I formed friendships and had fun learning. What an adventure it is to fly around the nation and meet other people like me!” he said.
Col. J.D. Ellis, national vice president of the Spaatz Association and Spaatz recipient No. 661, has met the cadets only once but had high praises for them.
“I spoke with them briefly at a CAP National Command Council meeting, but they are very sharp. They are goal-minded and will continue to do great things,” he said.
Not surprisingly, the brothers have set high goals for their futures.
“In five years, I see myself as a graduate student in aeronautical engineering, working toward my doctorate. I love aircraft! Everything seems magical to me, as it has since my first ride in grandpa’s old Cessna. I plant to spend my future on the edge of aeronautical research design, maybe starting my own aircraft company. Additionally, I want to remain active in the cadet program and do my best to help spread the wonder of flight to America’s youth,” Nathaniel said.
Kaleb added, “I see myself enrolled in a civilian medical school. After graduation from medical school, I will train in a surgical residency and pursue a career as a surgeon in the Air Force.”
Although he will stay in the military, Brendan is choosing a different route: “I see myself as a Marine and a college graduate.”
ABOUT THE SPAATZ AWARD
The Spaatz award is the namesake of Gen. Carl A. “Tooey” Spaatz, the Air Force’s first chief of staff. In 1929, Spaatz and a colleague set a then-unheard-of endurance record of 150 hours and 40 minutes. During World War II, he was the commander of the Allied air campaign against the Nazis. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also took place under his command.
After retiring from the Air Force, Spaatz served as the first chairman of the Civil Air Patrol board.Earning the Spaatz award requires completion of four rigorous segments — physical fitness, essay, leadership and aerospace. It is the highest award a cadet can achieve. Typically, it takes a cadet five years to progress through 16 specialties just to sit for the examination.
On average, only five cadets in 1,000 earn the Spaatz Award, with approximately 2,100 cadets having received the award since its inception in 1964. They are expected to serve as role models for junior cadets and become leaders in their communities as they enter adulthood.
More about the award, requirements and ceremony are available from the Spaatz Association.