Elizabeth J. Hale, a Civil Air Patrol cadet from Independence, has earned the organization’s highest award, an achievement reached by only a small number.
Hale, whose squadron is based at Lee’s Summit Airport, was recognized last week with the General Carl A. Spaatz Award. Hale is entering Truman State University at Kirksville to major in math and physics.
Only about two cadets in a thousand earn the award, said 2nd Lt. Julianne Dresser, deputy commander of the Lee’s Summit squadron known as “The Flying Tigers.”
Since the program’s inception in 1964, the Civil Air Patrol has presented 1,965 Spaatz awards.
The award is named for Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.
The Civil Air Patrol is a congressional-chartered auxiliary of the Air Force for adults and youths. Its purpose is aerospace education, cadet programs and assisting with emergency services responding to air crashes or natural disasters.
Cadets can choose different tracks to complete. Some learn to fly planes, and Hale chose to work on leadership.
For several summers she has served on staff at Missouri Wing statewide encampments. This summer she led the encampment at Fort Leonard Wood, creating a training plan and supervising the staff that worked with cadets.
To earn the Spaatz award, cadets finish 16 achievements, taking an average of five years. They learn self-discipline and leadership while getting a foundation for a career in aviation, space or technology industries.
Candidates complete interviews, and the final step is seven hours of testing. Upon passing the exams, cadets are promoted to the grade of colonel.
Hale said she was in a squadron in Grandview several years ago but transferred to Lee’s Summit because she’d heard about the strengths of its programs.
“Cadets there are really excited about learning,” Hale said. “I wanted a place where I could get involved in and help.”