18:18 PM

West Virginia Cadet Receives Spaatz Award at State Capitol

Post-presentation congratulations

WVwingCadet Col. Haley D. Tharp of the West Virginia Wing received Civil Air Patrol’s top cadet honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, in a presentation March 16 in the West Virginia state Capitol’s lower rotunda. 

At her request, the Mercer County Composite Squadron cadet received the award from retired U.S. Brig. Gen. Christopher Walker, former West Virginia Air National Guard commander and assistant adjutant general.

Looking on was an audience of about 50, including wing staff members, Mercer County squadron members, wing Cadet Advisory Board members, family, and friends. 

Tharp joined CAP in May 2018. She was recognized as the Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer for the wing encampment in June 2019 and in 2020 was honored as the wing’s Cadet of the Year. She served as cadet deputy WVmercercommander for the 2021 encampment.  

Aspiring to work as a rocket launch control operator in the space industry, Tharp attended CAP's Space Force Operations Academy in 2022. She’s now attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

“Her Civil Air Patrol training has empowered her to accomplish great things,” said  Col. Debbie Butler-Case, West Virginia Wing commander. 

After receiving her Spaatz award certificate, Tharp offered some advice to younger cadets: “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Opportunities do not come to those waiting on the sidelines.”  

She also cited the importance of her leadership training in CAP. “Always lead with kindness. Practicing servant leadership will keep you humble and earn the respect of those around you,” Tharp said. 

During the ceremony Col. Connie Moody, Butler-Case's predecessor as West Virginia Wing commander,  presented the cadet with a very special Spaatz award challenge coin engraved with her award certificate number, 2505. Tharp, in turn, presented her father, Capt. Anthony Tharp, deputy commander of her squadron, with an identical coin symbolizing her appreciation for her parents’ love and support.  

Moody recalled presenting Tharp with her Gen. Billy Mitchell Award in January 2020. At the time, she challenged the cadet to stay the course and earn the Spaatz award.  spaatzaward

Less than one-half of 1% of CAP cadets achieve the Spaatz award. After completing the cadet program’s 16 achievements, those seeking the  award must pass a rigorous cumulative battery consisting of a strenuous physical fitness exam, a written essay on a persistent moral issue, and two 60-question cumulative exams on aerospace and leadership.