Maj. Greg Hoffeditz
Assistant Public Affairs Officer
When Cadet Col. Samuel A. Ward received Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet honor, the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, he was the seventh member of the Illinois Wing’s Scott Composite Squadron to do so in 50 years – and all six of his predecessors were there for the presentation.
Lt. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, Air Mobility Command’s deputy commander, presented Ward with Spaatz award No. 2,198 during a ceremony at Scott Air Force Base. Looking on were:
- Ernest L. Lockwood, Spaatz No. 76, December 1968;
- Col. Joe Abegg, No. 399, September 1976;
- Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Robert Byrd, No. 454, December 1977;
- Air Force Reserve Senior Master Sgt. Rod Repp, No. 1,246 , April 1995;
- Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Delcour, No. 1,305, August 1996; and
- Derrek White, No.1,326, May 1997
Each received a personal introduction by the event emcee, Lt. Col. Jacob Hiles, commander of the Scott squadron.
After receiving the Spaatz, Lockwood went on to work with NASA as a flight control specialist at Johnson Space Center in Houston and as a satellite engineer at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Upon retirement, he became the director of aviation at Southwestern Illinois College. At 18, he was certified as a cadet flight instructor in CAP.
Abegg is commander of CAP’s New Jersey Wing and has been a member of the organization for 44 years. He has served as national director of emergency services and as the Northeast Region’s deputy chief of staff for operations. A retired Air Force Reserves C-141 pilot, he is a captain with United Airlines.
As a cadet, Byrd trained at Hawk Mountain, visited Sweden as part of the International Air Cadet Exchange and commanded 100 participants at a summer encampment. He retired after 30 years as a Security Forces officer and is a reserve deputy sheriff in Washington state. Byrd traveled the farthest to be part of the Spaatz gathering.
Repp is the specialist section chief for the 932nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Scott AFB. He also serves as the 932nd Maintenance Group’s Wing Inspection Team chief. In the civilian sector, he is the lead information technology systems specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Technology Center in St. Louis.
Delcour is the deputy director of command and control in the 618th Air Operations Center at Scott, where he assists the director in executing worldwide Mobility Air Forces tanker and airlift missions. He has 4,750 flight hours in the E-11A, C-17A, C-5A/B/C T-1, and T-37, of which 1,600 were combat hours.
Delcour was also instrumental in recruiting the next Spaatz recipient to the unit. White is a Department of Defense civilian contractor working at the Air Force Network Interoperabilty Center at Scott as an airborne network engineer.
Only one-half of 1 percent of CAP cadets achieve the Spaatz award. Doing so requires completing a rigorous four-part exam consisting of a challenging physical fitness test, an essay exam testing moral reasoning and comprehensive written exams on leadership and on aerospace education.
Ward is attending the Marion Military Institute in Alabama and has a provisional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He is a distinguished graduate of CAP’s Cadet Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
“It was pretty incredible to be part of someone else’s celebration of such a noteworthy accomplishment,” Delcour said afterward.
“To have all seven of us present at once could very well be the first of its kind — a rarity so special that may never be seen again—and so phenomenal; I couldn’t be more proud to be part of it and relive some of my own accomplishments with old and new friends in the great Civil Air Patrol!” he said.
One of the old friends he referred to was Chris Jeter, who drove some 800 miles from Abilene, Texas, for the event. As a senior cadet, Jeter was a powerful influence on Repp, Delcour and White during their early years in CAP.
“It was incredible and emotional for us prior Spaatz recipients to all get together and for us to see how getting our Spaatz awards jumpstarted us all to very successful careers,” Abegg said. “The self-discipline, the dedication, the service before self and drive for excellence obviously built a strong foundation in us that propelled us for future success.”
“It was also a great inspiration and booster shot for our current cadets to see the follow-on rewards of hard work now,” he added. “So many of our nation's youth don't seem to get that. The core values that CAP instills in our cadets pays great dividends for their future and the future of America.”
CAP’s command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Dandridge, an avid cadet program supporter and leader, also attended the ceremony. “For me, seeing seven Spaatz award certificates side by side on seven easels was very impressive and motivating for the many cadets looking on,” Dandridge said. “Let us – together – help prepare and mentor the next Spaatz award cadets in their journey.”
Photos by Maj. Greg Hoffeditz
Photos by Maj. Greg Hoffeditz