Maine Wing Member Achieves Highest Cadet Honor
Cadet Col. Paul Southwick of the Maine Wing’s Waterville Composite Squadron has received the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, making him the wing’s 16th cadet to earn the pinnacle honor.
"This achievement has been my goal since I began my cadet career in CAP," said Southwick, who joined the organization in June 2014 at age 12.
Southwick was poised to begin the testing included in the requirements for the Spaatz Award when the COVID-19 shutdown occurred in early 2020. Nationwide testing resumed just a few weeks before he left for Maine Army National Guard basic combat training.
"Despite the setback in 2020 I decided to continue pursuing the Spaatz award as I still had almost two years left as a cadet,” he recalled. ”After being away for almost a year it took a while to reacquaint myself with the cadet material and study to prepare for the exam.”
Earning the Spaatz award – achieved by less than one-half of 1% of cadets – requires completing leadership and aerospace exams and a rigorous physical fitness test and demonstrating leadership abilities.
“In my first and second attempts I came up short, having only passed the essay, and only had one attempt left for the other three parts,” Southwick said. “After a long period of deliberation, encouragement from members of my squadron led me to make a final push to complete the exam before I turned 21.
“On my test date I was both excited and nervous because this would be my final attempt ever.
“As I completed each part with passing scores I was relieved to be able to move on to the next section, until I finally completed the last test and was overjoyed when I realized that I had earned the Spaatz award,” he said.
“I am extremely proud that Cadet Col. Paul Southwick stuck with the CAP cadet program and didn't give up” in working to earn the Spaatz award, said Col. Blain Cote, Maine Wing commander
Cote presented Southwick with his Spaatz award at a ceremony July 20 at Waterville Robert LaFleur Airport. State Sen. David LaFountain and State Rep. Bruce White attended and presented the cadet with a Legislative Sentiment on behalf of the Joint Maine Legislature.
Congratulatory letters were presented on behalf of Gov. Janet Mills, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree. In addition, Southwick received a certificate of recognition on the Maine Legislative Squadron’s behalf from Lt. Col. Robert Asselin, squadron commander
Also in attendance were Matthew Hunter, CAP-U.S. Air Force regional operations director, and the Maine Wing’s vice commander, Lt. Col. Catherine Spaulding, and chief of staff, Lt. Col. Greg Curtis.