Oklahoma Wing Cadet Earns the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award
OKLAHOMA WING CADET EARNS THE GEN. CARL A. SPAATZ AWARD
by 1st Lt. Brandon Lunsford, Sr, CAP, Oklahoma Wing
72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col Kenyon Bell presenting Cadet Col Bethany Wilson the Spaatz Award
Credit: 1st Lt Brandon Lunsford, CAP, Oklahoma Wing
TULSA, Okla. – Cadet Col. Bethany Wilson, 16, of Broken Arrow, earned the prestigious Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, which was presented at Tinker Air Force Base during the Star Spangled Salute Air and Space Show, May 31-June 2, 2019. She is the first member of Civil Air Patrol’s Oklahoma Wing to be honored with this achievement in 2019.
On June 2, 2019, Tinker’s 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Kenyon Bell presented Wilson the Spaatz Award, the highest cadet achievement in the CAP program.
C/Col Bethany Wilson taking a selfie after the 2019 Star Spangled Salute Air and Space Show.
Credit: C/Col Bethany Wilson, CAP, Oklahoma Wing
“We have a little bit of history from two years ago,” he said to a crowd of over 100 Oklahoma Wing personnel at the conclusion of the air show as he looked at Wilson. “So, two years ago we had the opportunity to do a selfie at an air show. Today Bethany is getting…” Bell paused as the roar from four U.S. Navy Blue Angels’ F/A 18 Hornets filled the air around them.
“Hopefully we’ll get to pause like that a few more times, because I don’t want this to end,” he continued. “General Carl Spaatz was our first Chief of Staff for the Air Force. So, any time you have an award named after you it’s a big deal. Your receiving an award named after our first Chief of Staff of the Air Force is an even bigger deal.”
“This particular award I found to be most rewarding because it’s not given to many cadets,” Bell said. “Currently a little over 2000 cadets have received this award. This is a coveted award. It normally takes about five years to progress through a 16-part course culminating with a four-part exam, and I guarantee you I would not qualify for the Spaatz Award right now. Leadership, character, aerospace education and physical fitness, those are the areas you had to take an exam on. That’s pretty phenomenal.”
“I’m looking at mom and dad right now,” Bell said. “I can tell by the looks on your faces you are beaming with pride, and justifiably so. To be able to earn that award is significant. Everything that I have heard about Cadet Wilson exemplifies what this award is about and the fact that she is going to get it today.”
“It is not done there,” Bell concluded, looking back to Wilson. “I issue you this charge. With this award, it means you are going to turn around and give back to other people. Now you are charged with mentoring junior cadets and continuing to go out into the community and do that which the CAP program stands for.”
U.S. Rep Kevin Hern of Oklahoma’s 1st District, speaking to C/Col Bethany Wilson (middle)
and C/Lt Col Bailey Lunsford (right) about servant leadership in 2018 during Wilson’s tenure as cadet commander.
Credit: 1st Lt Brandon Lunsford, CAP, Oklahoma Wing
“Everything that the Spaatz award represents,” Wilson said to the crowd of Oklahoma Wing members upon receiving her award and pausing to take another selfie with Col Bell. “Is everything that you guys have poured into me. It’s a reflection of all the dedication that you have put into the program. There is no way that I could have done any of it without the support and encouragement from every single one of you. I really am grateful that I have had the chance to serve with you and I am really hoping that I get to continue to be a part of CAP and do the same that you did for me.”
“Actually,” Wilson recalled. “My sister joined when she was 12 and I was 10 and a half. So I had to patiently wait one and half years before I could join on my twelfth birthday.”
Wilson has been active in Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program since October 2014. She could spend another four years as a cadet, before she would have to switch over to senior member status, with the grade of captain in CAP. The personal growth and leadership opportunities have meant the most to her.
C/Col Bethany Wilson being observed by her instructor pilot during the Great Lakes Region’s National Flight Academy in Wisconsin.
Credit: Anonymous staff photographer
She has participated in ground team search and rescue, served as a squadron cadet commander, and spent five years at the Joint Oklahoma-Arkansas Encampment, including serving as cadet commander at the 2019 encampment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. She has attended the Engineering and Technologies Academy in Tennessee and the National Flight Academy in Wisconsin, spending about nine days in air and ground school, and earning her Pre-Solo Wings.
“There are a few that I will never forget,” she said, referring to her fondest memories in CAP. “When our squadron went to Washington D.C., we toured the Drug Enforcement Administration Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Team’s headquarters and I arm wrestled a guy whose bicep was bigger than my head; that was fun. I had my Spaatz presented by the Air Base Wing Commander of Tinker Air Force Base, Col. Bell, and I took a selfie with him. During the Star-Spangled Salute Air and Space show, I, my sister, and another friend were given an up-close tour of the Blue Angel’s F/A-18 Hornet. We talked with a couple of the crew members and even got to touch Angel #1.”
“To me,” Wilson began. “My greatest accomplishment in CAP is the development of effective communication skills. The mentorship that I have had throughout CAP has significantly affected how I treat people. I believe one of the most important lessons I learned through my mentors and then personally experienced is the value of genuinely caring for the people who you are leading and for the people who are encouraging you to continue performing.”
“In anything you want to do or achieve,” she said, “make a decision. Then, once you have decided, don’t look back. Believe in your decision and pursue its completion with every ounce of willpower and strength you have.”