■ Civil Air Patrol Cadets Receive Prestigious Billy Mitchell Award
Two cadets of the Crow Wing Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol received the prestigious General Billy Mitchell Award on Oct. 3. Major Susan Blessman, director of Cadet Programs for the Minnesota Wing, and Lt. Col. Don Sorenson, commander of Group 2 of the Minnesota Wing, presented the awards to Cadet 2nd Lt. Jessica Holmes of Brainerd and Cadet 2nd Lt. Kyle Unzeitig of Crosby.
To earn the Mitchell Award, cadets must pass comprehensive leadership and aerospace exams as well as a rigorous physical fitness test. They must complete an encampment, a military-style camp. In addition, in order to move into the cadet officer ranks, Mitchell awardees are expected to exhibit very mature behavior, to be highly responsible, and to demonstrate leadership skill before they can take their exams. With the achievement of the Mitchell Award, cadets enter into the officer phase of cadet leadership.
The U.S. Air Force highly regards cadets’ membership in Civil Air Patrol. In fact, cadets who receive the Mitchell Award are eligible for advanced placement to the grade of E-3 (Airman First Class) should they enter the Air Force. They also are eligible for advanced credit in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Course, for various CAP scholarships, and for CAP special activity opportunities. Other military branches also offer advanced placement for Mitchell Awardees. All U.S. military service academies look favorably upon cadets who have earned the Mitchell Award. In fact, about 10 percent of the cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy were CAP members.
C/2nd Lt Unzeitig is currently the Cadet Commander for Crow Wing Squadron. He has attended three encampments at Camp Ripley, serving most recently as flight sergeant on cadet staff. His leadership training has been furthered through staff development School at Camp Ripley. Unzeitig has been involved in search and rescue exercises, BlackCAP training, Color Guard and cadet competition, basic communications training, and numerous squadron cadet staff positions. He attended Regional Glider Academy in 2011, serving as deputy cadet commander.
C/2nd Lt. Holmes, the daughter of Shawn and Sarah Holmes of Brainerd, currently serves as the squadron’s cadet executive officer, having previously held the positions of standards and evaluations officer, color guard commander, and administration officer. She has attended encampment at Camp Ripley as a cadet and most recently as a public affairs cadet staff officer. A rigorous and competitive staff selection exercise precedes selection for encampment staff, and once selected she attended several training weekends and Encampment Preparatory School at Camp Ripley in anticipation of her staff position.
Holmes’ training includes search and rescue exercises, winter survival weekends, Minnesota Wing Cadet Advisory Council, color guard commander and competition, Non-Commissioned Officer School, Regional Cadet Leadership School, and BlackCAP emergency services college. She has achieved her advanced communications training certification as well as Ground Team (GT) Academy and GT certifications. Holmes attended Regional Glider Academy in Mankato this past summer, achieving her pre-solo glider flight wings with over 30 glider flights.
She is a school and civic leader as well, participating on the volleyball and track teams at Brainerd High School as well as Class Cabinet. She is a summer camp counselor at Camp Jim, and participated in the Brainerd airport’s American Barnstormers event as a security and parking assistant.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com for more information or call Crow Wing Composite Squadron Commander Marcel Kobberdahl, 218.534.5418.