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Civil Air Patrol cadet from Greenwich earns highest award

February 21, 2019

GREENWICH — A Greenwich resident who is enrolled at the Air Force Academy has received the highest award given in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program.

Cadet Colonel Alexander J. Presley, a member of the Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 of the Civil Air Patrol, was given the prestigious General Carl A. Spaatz Award at a ceremony in December.

In doing so, Presley became the first cadet in his squadron’s 53-year history to earn this award. Cadets qualify for this prestigious award after progressing through 16 achievements in the CAP Cadet Program. Along the way, they develop self-discipline, a strong sense of personal responsibility, the ability to lead and persuade, and the foundation necessary for pursuing a career in aviation, space, or technology.

The final step a cadet must complete to earn the Spaatz Award is a rigorous daylong exam with four parts: a challenging physical fitness test, an essay exam testing their moral reasoning, a comprehensive written exam on leadership, and a comprehensive written exam on aerospace education.

Upon passing the Spaatz Award exams, the cadet is promoted to the grade of cadet colonel.

Presley joined CAP five years ago and has distinguished himself by studying aerospace education, teaching leadership, becoming physically fit, developing character, and participating in Color Guard and Honor Guard activities. An excellent scholar who is active in sports and extracurricular activities, he has served in the Cadet Advisory Council and has been a staff member at multiple annual CAP Summer Leadership Encampments.

He is currently a cadet third class at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he is a part of the 94 Flying Training Squadron soaring program and played on the USAFA Club Hockey Team freshman year. Upon graduating from the Academy in 2021, he would like to continue on with pilot training.

The award was presented to Presley by Col. Kenneth J. Andreu, former commander of N.Y. Wing Civil Air Patrol, in a formal ceremony conducted by Lt. Col. Thomas S. Vreeland, Lt. Col. Patrick Magee, C/Lt. Col. Emily Murray, and C/Lt. Col. Stephanie Walls.

Vreeland founded the Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 fifty-three years ago, after, as a cadet, he received the 27th Spaatz Award. During the ceremony, Presley wore on his uniform the same shoulder boards worn by Vreeland at his Spaatz Award presentation in 1966.

Presley was also presented with a commendation certificate from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District.

Squadron Commander Capt. Katherine I. Torres thanked Presley for his service and presented him with a special squadron Challenge coin.

“We are so proud of your accomplishments as cadet commander here in the squadron, as an outstanding cadet at the US Air Force Academy, and now as the first ever squadron recipient of the General Carl A. Spaatz Award,” she said. “You are a role model for all of our cadets and you exemplify the CAP core values of integrity, excellence, service and respect.”

The Spaatz award is named for Gen. Carl A. “Tooey” Spaatz, the Air Force’s first chief of staff. In 1929, Spaatz and a colleague set a then-unheard-of flight endurance record of 150 hours and 40 minutes, by pioneering mid-air refueling. During World War II, he was the commander of the Allied Air Forces in Europe. After retiring from the Air Force, Spaatz served as the first chairman of the Civil Air Patrol board.

Earning the Spaatz award requires completion of four rigorous program components and is the final and ultimate award a cadet can achieve. On average, only one cadet in 1,000 earns the Spaatz Award, with just under 2,200 cadets having received the award since its inception in 1964.

Westchester Cadet Squadron 1 meets on Friday nights for training and activities at the Legion Hall at 40 Bell Road in Scarsdale, N.Y. Young people ages 12 to 18 are welcome to join as cadets, and adults 18 and older may join and train to become officers in the CAP program. Check out http://www.westcadets.org for more information.

Civil Air Patrol, an all-volunteer auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for information.