Okla. Wing Cadet Recognized With Spaatz Award
1st Lt. Brandon Lunsford
Public Affairs Officer
Cadet Col. Bethany Wilson received Civil Air Patrol’s top cadet honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, in an appropriately special setting – the Star Spangled Salute Air and Space Show at Tinker Air Force Base.
Tinker’s 72nd Air Base Wing commander, Col. Kenyon Bell, presented her with the award – earned by less than one-half of 1% of all cadets – before more than 100 Oklahoma Wing members.
“This particular award I found to be most rewarding because it’s not given to many cadets,” Bell said. “Currently a little over 2,000 cadets have received this award. This is a coveted award. It normally takes about five years to progress through a 16-part course culminating with a four-part exam, and I guarantee you I would not qualify for the Spaatz Award right now.
“Leadership, character, aerospace education and physical fitness, those are the areas you had to take an exam on. That’s pretty phenomenal,” he told Wilson.
“To be able to earn that award is significant. Everything that I have heard about Cadet Wilson exemplifies what this award is about and the fact that she is going to get it today.
“It is not done there,” Bell concluded, looking back to Wilson. “I issue you this charge. With this award, it means you are going to turn around and give back to other people. Now you are charged with mentoring junior cadets and continuing to go out into the community and do that which the CAP program stands for.”
Wilson told the assembly, “Everything that the Spaatz award represents is everything that you guys have poured into me, a reflection of all the dedication that you have put into the program. There is no way that I could have done any of it without the support and encouragement from every single one of you. I really am grateful that I have had the chance to serve with you, and I am really hoping that I get to continue to be a part of CAP and do the same that you did for me.”
Wilson has been active in Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program since October 2014. She has participated in ground team search and rescue, served as a squadron cadet commander and participated in five Joint Oklahoma-Arkansas Encampments, including serving as cadet commander at the 2019 encampment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
She has also attended CAP’s Engineering and Technologies Academy at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and the Great Lakes Region National Flight Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, earning her pre-solo wing this year.
“To me,” Wilson said, “my greatest accomplishment in CAP is the development of effective communication skills. The mentorship that I have had throughout CAP has significantly affected how I treat people. I believe one of the most important lessons I learned through my mentors and then personally experienced is the value of genuinely caring for the people who you are leading and for the people who are encouraging you to continue performing.”
“In anything you want to do or achieve, make a decision,” she concluded. “Then, once you have decided, don’t look back. Believe in your decision and pursue its completion with every ounce of willpower and strength you have.”