11:43 AM

Va. Wing Cadet Honored for Essay on Character, Core Values

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Miner
Virginia Wing

Cadet Tech. Sgt. Carter Harrison of the Fredericksburg Composite Squadron was thrilled to receive the final component of his prize for winning the Virginia Wing’s first essay contest on character and core values – a handwritten note of congratulations from the military officer whose book on ethical leadership inspired the event.

That officer is Gen. David L. Goldfein, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.Harrison was one of numerous CAP cadets, ranging in age from 12-21, who submitted essays on the importance of character and core values for future leaders of the U.S. A team of CAP chaplains and character development instructors formed the panel of judges who read rated each essay for its ethical presentation and clarity of expression without knowing the author.

Inspiration for the first character essay contest in CAP can be traced to the Air Force Association’s 2016 National Conference in Washington, D.C., where copies of Goldfein’s book, “Sharing Success – Owning Failure: Preparing to Command in the Twenty-First Century Air Force,” were one of the hottest giveaways.

The book, now in its 10th printing, was first published in 2001 when Goldfein held the rank of colonel. He originally wrote it as a research report while a student at  the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia.

When Virginia Wing leaders, who are responsible for the monthly character education program mandated for all CAP cadets, realized the book’s main theme is integrity, they felt it would inspire their own students to write about that subject and CAP’s other core values – volunteer service, excellence and respect. Goldfein autographed a copy of the book to be used as the prize.

Harrison received the signed book from Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Steven Schaick, Air Force deputy chief of chaplains, and his wing commander, Col. Dean Gould, at an award ceremony. Schaick traces the beginnings of his Air Force career back to his days as a CAP cadet in the Wisconsin Wing. He now serves on the air staff working under Goldfein’s leadership.

“Writing an essay about character and our core values makes you think deeper,” said Harrison, who is homeschooled, when asked to compare the contest with CAP’s usual classroom discussion format for teaching. “The more time you have, the better formulated your thoughts can be.”

In addition to the book and a certificate from the wing commander, the cadet was presented a letter from Chaplain (Col.) Jay Hughes, chief of CAP’s Chaplain Corps, which consists of 900 chaplains and character development instructors tasked with moral and ethical education of the organization’s more than 24,000 cadets nationwide. Hughes thanked Harrison for his “willingness to contribute to the moral growth of the members and the organization.”

Schaick and Gould also presented certificates and recognition coins to three other Virginia Wing cadets – Cadet Master Sgt. Clara Harrison, sister of Carter Harrison; Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Corwin Turner of the Langley Composite Squadron; and Cadet 1st Lt. Cory Moon of the Monticello Composite Squadron. Moon received the first Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Robert Preston Taylor Prize for her essay and for her example of living CAP’s core values.

“The character of our cadets is very important to the country,” Gould said. “The contest is a great test of the values, morals and ethics our cadets have embraced. The response was fantastic, and the Virginia Wing hopes to continue this program into the future.”

“It was special to receive a handwritten note from Gen. Goldfein,” Carter Harrison said. “He could have had a staff member email a letter of congratulations. Instead, he took some of his time and personally wrote the letter. It shows that he was interested in the essay competition.

“Since the prize was an autographed copy of his book, it is cool to have a personal note from him as well,” the cadet said.