Pride in Leadership

Attending last Saturday’s banquet for the Georgia Wing of Civil Air Patrol filled my heart.

I have had a long relationship with Civil Air Patrol, starting over ten years ago with the involvement of children from our foster home, giving them an outlet and an opportunity to learn about serving our community.  Somehow that led to MY involvement in CAP as well, and since then I have been the Commander of three squadrons, CAP’s Emergency Services Officer, and the chair of the Cadet Advisory Council.  In addition to the annual summer Encampment training program, for which I developed the Advanced Training Flight (ATF) program for the advanced cadets.

I have seen a wide range of cadets participating in these CAP programs.  Some of these cadets have been honored with Commander Commendations, the Billy Mitchell Award, the Amelia Earhart Award, and the Spaatz Award.  Some have used their experience and interest in aeronautics to be accepted to the Citadel, West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy.  It has been a great pleasure for me to watch these young men and women take the examples set before them and use that inspiration for their own achievements.

At last Saturday’s banquet, similar to other awards banquets I have attending in the last 10+ years, the success stories were played out, of what these young people have accomplished: all the programs that they have worked on through the whole year, and evidence of the development of their leadership skills.  But at this year’s banquet, one particular cadet – with whom I’ve worked in CAP for some time and who has gone on to be a contributor to “The Hayden Collins Radio Program” as well, and from that experience and from various speaking engagements, has honed her presentation skills – she was recognized as Cadet of Year for the State of Georgia.

I am as proud as hell, that a cadet who not only survived ATF herself but then she came back to help lead ATF – that she has now been recognized as Cadet of the Year.  To me it looks like she was able to use some of the skills that the ATF case studies are designed to develop, emphasizing that one example makes a difference – and this is a very fine example.  I feel a swelling of pride that the point of those case studies, making the right decision at the right time, looks like it stuck.

My family believes that setting the proper example is the responsibility of every good leader. While the achievement and the honor belong entirely to this cadet, it makes me feel gratified to have been part of the examples that were set, and happy to be able to actually see some positive results from it.

Well done, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel!

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