RAF Mildenhall, England --
A Mildenhall Cadet Squadron cadet received the General Carl A. Spaatz Award Jan. 4, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England.
Cadet Col. Zane Fockler was presented the award in front of his fellow Civil Air Patrol cadets, family, friends and leadership from the 100th Air Refueling and 48th Fighter Wings.
“To win the Spaatz Award, a cadet must complete 16 Civil Air Patrol cadet achievements and five major milestone awards, all of which include exams on aerospace and leadership, participation in character development activities and the passing of a physical fitness test,” stated CAP Maj. Walt Brown, Mildenhall Cadet Squadron deputy commander.
An auxiliary organization to the U.S. Air Force that adheres to similar customs, courtesies and rank structure, CAP focuses on the three primary missions of aerospace education, emergency service support and cadet programs.
The cadet program’s goal is to shape future aerospace leaders, which Fockler plans to become. Named after the first chief of staff of the Air Force, the Spaatz Award is the highest CAP cadet honor,.
“One half of one percent of all cadets in Civil Air Patrol attain the rank of cadet colonel and earn the General Carl A. Spaatz Award,” said Brown. “These cadets represent the best that CAP has to offer, and are the result of many hundreds of hours of learning, study, practice, service and leadership of their fellow cadets.”
Earning an award that just 0.5 percent of cadets receive came after years of dedication and relentless work.
“Five years ago, when Cadet Fockler first joined CAP and was a cadet airman basic, he learned about the CAP Cadet Program and the ranks and awards that were available to him,” Brown said. “He immediately decided that he would achieve the Spaatz Award and set himself on the path to completion.”
Fockler’s boyhood dream of becoming a fighter pilot inspired his hard work, and he has continued to progress closer to his goal even as his career as a CAP cadet comes to a close. He is currently a freshman in the Air Force ROTC detachment at Norwich University.
“Civil Air Patrol has really set me up with those skills that I need, such as leading my peers, being self-confident and just being comfortable in a military uniform,” said Fockler. “It’s a fantastic organization and the opportunities that they provide are just worth so much.”
The cadet program isn’t only reserved for those who plan to join the military. Individuals who desire civilian careers can also benefit from the program.
“A lot of people think that if they join the cadet program, then they have to join the military,” Fockler said. “It’s just not the case. A lot of my friends have enlisted or commissioned, and others have gone and done some really phenomenal things in the civilian world as well. I’ve gotten some phenomenal experiences that I would have never had if I didn’t join the program and work hard while in there. You’ll get out of it what you put into it.”