15:58 PM

Virginia Cadet Adds Spaatz Award to Accomplishments

Cadet Col. Rachel Sherrod

VAwingCadet Col. Rachel Sherrod has accomplished Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet achievement, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, making her the 88th Virginia Wing cadet to do so. 

Sherrod began her Civil Air Patrol career in August 2018 as part of the Newport News Composite Squadron. Only five months into her membership, her family moved to Missouri on military orders. She helped to stand up the Laclede County Composite Squadron, serving as its first sergeant, Cadet Advisory Council representative, and cadet commander. 

VAnewportIn September 2020 she reunited with the Newport News squadron. From 2021-2022, she served as cadet commander, leading the transition from online to in-person meetings as pandemic-related social distancing restrictions waned. 

Sherrod fills numerous roles in the squadron and takes special time to mentor other cadets in drill and ceremonies before every meeting.  

Her vision has reached beyond her own squadron. In 2022 she co-created, led, andMOlaclede facilitated the inaugural Virginia Wing Cadet Executive Staff and Command Course, designed to help cadet officers develop their leadership skills and create healthy cultures for their home squadrons. 

In 2023, Sherrod resurrected the Drill and Ceremonies School so cadets would have an opportunity to refresh their drill knowledge and participate outside their own squadrons. She redesigned the course from the ground up and fostered inter-unit participation by inviting the rest of the wing to join in.  

Serving as the multiday event’s cadet commander, she raised the standards for both drill and cadet leadership across the wing. The second such school is planned for April. 

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.

“I’ve had the honor of watching Rachel from her CAP beginning to where she is now,” said her first squadron commander, Capt. Jimmy Taylor. “It’s been like watching a seed blossom into a majestic tree; each week revealing new layers of strength, wisdom, and inspiration, which are all traits of a great leader.” 

Capt. When-Dee Morrison, former deputy commander for cadets for the Southside Composite Squadron, worked with Sherrod as her training officer for the 2021 Virginia Wing encampment in 2021. Morrison said the cadet "not only wants to be excellent in all she does, but wants to help everyone around her be excellent as well.” 

“She puts time in to help develop her people because she believes in them,” Morrison said. 

The Virginia Wing’s Cadet of the Year for 2021 and 2023, Sherrod has also been recognized with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Cadet Officer of the Year Award for 2020, Air and Space Forces Association Award for 2022, and an Achievement Award for her work with the Drill and Ceremonies School., 

She is a junior at North Greenville University, working toward a bachelor’s in business and leadership. 
Cadet 1st Lt. Brista Stevens 
Hanover Composite Squadron
Virginia Wing