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Air Cadets honored

Darin Olde, Sierra Sun

The Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the United States Air Force, has returned with soaring success in North Tahoe.

Nine cadets with the Tahoe-Truckee Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) were recognized at the Cottonwood restaurant Sunday, May 20 for achieving the Billy Mitchell award in the minimum amount of required time, said Capt. Judy DeSantis, a Truckee resident and parent of one of the honored cadets.

The Billy Mitchell award is an achievement that earns the cadets the title of 2nd Lieutenant.

For each of the eight achievement levels required to obtain the Billy Mitchell award, the cadets had to pass a physical fitness test, an aerospace test, moral leadership classes and a comprehensive test.

The cadets go through additional training such as CPR, first aid and general emergency services. Many are part of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue.

“They are now qualified for all Civil Air Patrol scholarships and programs and advancement in the U.S. Air Force if they decide to go,” said Deputy Commander of Cadets Ron Kato.

“They get paid more too,” said Cmdr. Pat Northrop, noting that if the cadets join the Air Force they will be two levels higher than people who sign up without previous experience.

After a 10-year hiatus, the Tahoe-Truckee CAP program came back into existence 18 months ago under Kato’s leadership.

Kato, a retired air traffic controller, served in the United States Marines and toured in Vietnam. His son, R.J., was one of the nine cadets honored in the awards ceremony. R.J. is the second youngest of the nine to receive the award.

“All these parents helped,” said Kato of the crowd at the awards banquet Sunday.

Northrop originally became involved with the Civil Air Patrol in 1967 and later procured a scholarship that allowed her to obtain her pilot’s license.

Each of the cadets are eligible to obtain their pilot’s license through scholarships, she said.

Jeremy Moon, a sophomore at Tahoe-Truckee High School, was one of the cadets to receive the Billy Mitchell award.

“I would like to go to the Air Force,” he said Sunday.

David DeSantis, who also received the Billy Mitchell award, plans to apply to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

“I want to fly planes as a career,” he said from his home Tuesday.

DeSantis was one of six cadets to visit a U.S. Air Force base in Columbus, Miss., and see fighter pilots train last summer.

Lt. Col. Jack Schofield, a former Nevada state assemblyman and Golden Glove boxing champion, was guest of honor Sunday night.

He congratulated everyone involved with the program, including the parents and supporters.

“You get out of life what you put into it – isn’t that true?” said Schofield, who flew with the Flying Tigers in World War II.

Lt. Col. Schofield concluded his speech by congratulating the cadets and the Civil Air Patrol for their achievements and said that he would be lobbying the Nevada state legislature for more money for the Nevada wing of the Civil Air Patrol.


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