Preparation for this ceremony began months before, with confirmation of data entries and test dates, uniform upkeep and exchanges, then a weekend full of testing and physical training, into a school week of lining up cadet insignia and framing certificates. It wasn’t until one stood at the end of the awards table and looked down at the awards being lined up did it sink in what a successful year 2009-2010 has been for Sheldon Cadet Squadron TX802.
The ceremony, which was held at here at Michael R. Null Middle School, began with introduction of some very prestigious guests present, Mr. Michael R. Null, principal of C.E. King Middle School, Mrs. Becky Zalesnik, principal of Michael R. Null Middle School, a member of the school board, Ms. Eileen Palmer, and last but not least the honorable Brigadier General James Jaeger, a retired Brigadier General from the United States Air Force. What the cadets did not even know was there were three new awards going to be presented and one being named the General Jaeger award after the distinguished guest. General Jaeger was the first cadet to receive the Spaatz Award as a CAP cadet then to advance in the Air Force to the rank of General Officer.
Promotions begin with eight cadets being promoted to cadet airman, twelve to cadet airman first class, fourteen cadet senior airmen, and then everyone looked on in awe when the names were read of the cadets being promoted to cadet staff sergeant. With the promotion to cadet staff sergeant, the cadets crossed a milestone and received The Wright Brothers Award for successfully completing the Phase I of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program. It marks the transition of a cadet to the non-commissioned officer status in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program, and accompanies the promotion to the rank of Cadet Staff Sergeant. The total count for the cadets receiving The Wright Brothers Award was thirty-seven, this includes cadets who had been promoted to Cadet Staff Sergeant this school year. Two Cadet Senior Master Sergeants were promoted and one Cadet Chief Master Sergeant finishing off the cadet enlisted promotions.
The night was just getting started after the enlisted promotions when, Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Levesque, TX802’s Squadron Commander asked General Jeagar to please join him in his next presentation which would compose of seven TX 802 cadets being presented with their General Billy Mitchell Award. The General Billy Mitchell Award is earned by Civil Air Patrol cadets who have successfully complete the second phase of the cadet program. It marks the end of the enlisted phase of the cadet program; cadets are promoted to Cadet Second Lieutenants upon receipt and, by extension, Cadet Officers.
The promotion ceremony finale would be Cadet Major Warren Geary getting promoted to Cadet Lieutenant Colonel with this promotion he receives the General Ira C. Eaker Award, it is given by the Civil Air Patrol in honor of the former Deputy Commander U.S. Army Air Forces and aviation pioneer. It is presented on behalf of CAP by CAP National Headquarters to cadets who have completed the specific requirements in the Phase IV of the cadet program.
With the promotions being complete it was time to honor those cadets whom went above and beyond their call of duties throughout the school year. Sheldon Cadet Squadron presented the “Colonel George M. Boyd Cadet Airman of the Year Award” to Cadet SSgt Dylan Ling, who started off this year as a Cadet Airman Basic and within nine months has advanced to the rank of Cadet SSgt, participated actively with our squadron competition drill team and did it with a great attitude and the drive to always seek more from within himself. The “Master Sergeant Roy B. Benavidez Cadet NCO of the Year” was then presented to Cadet MSgt Monica Salazar, who with her dedication and drive led her to hold the position of Flight Sergeant of her class throughout the year, then holding Flight Sergeant Positions at all weekend activities, while still being active with the Squadron’s competition drill team, and maintaining a positive attitude. The last award of the evening was the “Brigadier General James A. Jaeger Cadet Officer of the Year” award, named after tonight’s guest of honor and it was presented to Sheldon Cadet Squadron’s Cadet Commander Cadet Lt Col Warren Geary, who has spent this year active as the Cadet Commander, overseeing all the squadron’s weekend activities, and spending time training and passing on knowledge to his subordinates enabling them to progress successfully.
With the 2009-2010 School year coming to a close, the cadets of the Sheldon Cadet Squadron TX802 are poised to continue on their track as one of the premier student organizations at Sheldon Independent School Districts. With the education they gain on a daily basis from the all of the instructors at these campuses, to the discipline and self reliance they learn while being a member of the squadron, these young men and women are setting themselves up for a successful 2010-2011 school year and beyond.
By: Senior Member SSgt Amber N. Castro