09:48 AM

South Carolina Cadet Joins Spaatz Award Ranks

New cadet colonel

SCWingCadet Col. Nathan Charles Mercer of the South Carolina Wing is the newest recipient of Civil Air Patrol’s top cadet honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, after a presentation ceremony Feb.19 with CAP’s national commander doing the honors.  

The ceremony’s theme centered around resilience and determination, highlighted by information about Mercer's cadet experiences as well as his volunteer service outside CAP.  

Maj. Gen Edward Phelka, national commander and a Spaatz award recipient himself in 1993 as a Michigan Wing cadet, presented the award. Chief Master Sgt. Todd Parsons, national command chief, assisted, presented the newly promoted cadet colonel with a U.S. flag that flew over the Capitol on Dec. 1 in his honor and in celebration of CAP's 82nd birthday. 

Also present were Col. Andrew Thorne, representing the South Carolina Air National Guard; former U.S. Army 1st Sgt. _CAP_Lexington__SCWG_no_bk_small_7D08949735B0CWilliam Smith, representing U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham's office; and Capt. Brian Yale, a CAP-USAF liaison officer. 

Mercer addressed those in attendance — almost 90 people from Georgia, Michigan. North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and other states — thanking them for their support in and outside of CAP. In remarks delivered on President's Day, he referenced President Theodore Roosevelt's April 1910 assertion  that ““it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better," along with President John F. Kennedy's September 1962  declaration, in calling for U.S. leadership in space exploration, that "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” 

Following the ceremony, Mercer and a team of 30 other members performed community service on the grounds of the Historic Camden museum and the area surrounding the Kershaw Cornwallis House, site of the award presentation.  

They staked poles, strapped up temporary fencing, and cleaned more than 75 pounds of debris from the grounds of the 107-acre park. 

Less than one-half of 1% of CAP cadets receive the Spaatz award. It comes after attaining the cadet program’s 16spaatzaward achievements and passing a rigorous cumulative battery composed of a strenuous physical fitness exam, an argumentative essay on a perennial moral debate, and two 60-question cumulative exams on aerospace and leadership.

Mercer joined Civil Air Patrol as a member of the Hilton Head Composite Squadron in June 2018. on his 12th birthday, earning his Maj. Gen. John F. Curry Award the same day and attending his first encampment eight days later. He has served on two hurricane missions and one overnight mission to secure the perimeter of a plane crash site.  

Mercer has participated in four staff training academies, one Cadet Training Weekend, two encampments, Region Cadet Leadership School, and the final Middle East Region Honor Guard Academy as a student.  

SCacebasinHe has served on staff for three Mid-Atlantic Region Honor Guard Academies and will serve as cadet commander this summer. He was also a cadet staff member for three encampments and three Cadet Training Weekends, cadet project officer for four National Legislative Day campaigns, and cadet director of the 2024 South Carolina Wing Cadet Competition.  

At the squadron level, he has served as cadet commander for the ACE Basin and Lexintgon composite squadrons. Under his leadership, ACE Basin earned the Squadron of Merit Award and Lexington achieved its first Quality Cadet Unit award in three years.  

Mercer is a senior home-schooled student planning to enroll in Truett-McConnell University in Cleveland, Georgia, in August as a history major in history.