Spaatz Sisters: Massachusetts Siblings Earn Highest Cadet Honor
The Massachusetts Wing’s latest recipients of Civil Air Patrol’s top cadet achievement, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, have more than that honor in common.
Cadet Cols. Leah and Sarah Vigevani are sisters. The two Bridgewater State University Composite Squadron members received their Spaatz awards Aug. 1 from Brig. Gen. Virginia Gaglio, Massachusetts Air National Guard commander and chief of staff.
Earning the Spaatz is impressive enough, Gaglio said, “but to have two in the same state at the same time is really nothing short of amazing.”
"The fact that they're both sisters just speaks to their dedication – their family's dedication – to the ideals of the Air Force,” she said.
Sarah Vigevani, who joined Civil Air Patrol in August 2017, is an Air Force ROTC cadet at the University of North Dakota. She was previously recognized as the 2020 Air Force Association National Aerospace Education Cadet of the Year for the Northeast Region and the Massachusetts Wing. She also received the wing’s 2019 Frank G. Brewer Memorial Cadet Aerospace Education Award,
"The Spaatz to me is a lot of dedication and the growth of leadership. You start this program as an airman knowing nothing and working hard with constant dedication," she said.
"To get this award is very fulfilling. It's an honor to be receiving it, and hopefully this award inspires others and instills confidence in them – that they can do more than what they are capable of doing."
She served as 2019 Encampment Alpha Flight commander and Bridgewater State University Color Guard commander. She also participated in the 2019 National Blue Beret national cadet special activity at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.
She has also served her squadron as a flight sergeant, first sergeant, and flight commander. She was the unit's cadet commander and also served as cadet commander for the Massachusetts Wing's 2022 Encampment.
Leah Vigevani, a CAP member since June 2018, served as flight sergeant at the 2019 wing encampment, attended 2020 Region Cadet Leadership School, belonged to CAP’s 2021 National High Altitude Balloon Challenge Kittinger Cup-winning team. and followed her sister in earning the 2021 Massachusetts Wing Frank Brewer AE Cadet Member Award.
"When I was first an airman I never would've dreamed of standing up there and actually getting that support and motivation from all the senior members and leaders and mentors that I have," she said.
"Knowing that those people inspire me, I'm hoping that getting this award allows me to inspire others – motivate them to work hard, volunteer and you know – someday they will all be just as successful."
The Bridgewater squadron’s cadet commander, she has also served as element leader, flight sergeant, first sergeant, flight commander, deputy commander, Cadet Advisory Council representative, and 2021 wing encampment squadron commander. This year she’s cadet deputy commander for operations during encampment.
Leah has led at every level including element leader, flight sergeant, first sergeant, flight commander, deputy commander, cadet advisory council representative, currently as cadet commander, as a 2021 encampment squadron commander. This year she serves as cadet deputy commander for operations during the unit's summer encampment.
She will soon join her sister at North Dakota, where she plans to major in commercial aviation..
Their mother, 1st Lt. Kerry H. Vigevani, is the squadron's deputy commander for cadets and health services officer.
The Spaatz award, attained by less than one-half of 1% of all cadets, is presented to cadets who have demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, fitness, and aerospace education. Cadets qualify for the honor after devoting an average of five years to progress through 16 achievements in the cadet program.
The final step is a four-part exam consisting of a challenging physical fitness test, an essay exam testing the cadet’s moral reasoning, and comprehensive written exams on leadership and aerospace education. Those achieving the award attain CAP’s highest cadet rank, cadet colonel.
The award is named for the first chief of staff of the Air Force.
Senior Member Timothy Sandland