First-Ever “Winter Leadership Symposium” A Rousing Success!

WASHINGTON, DC — More than twenty-five recipients of the Civil Air Patrol General Carl A. Spaatz Award and 75 guests–including members of General Spaatz’s family and senior Air Force and CAP leaders–gathered on the evening of March 1st at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC, for the first-ever Winter Leadership Symposium of The Spaatz Association (TSA). TSA is a national service organization whose membership consists of the 1500 recipients of the Spaatz Award since the award’s inception in 1965. TSA exists as a separate and distinct corporation from CAP and seeks to mentor present-day CAP cadets through various programs, the most prominent of which is TSA’s Aerospace Leadership Scholarship (ALS) grant program, which awards several $2500.00 scholarships each year to deserving cadets who have already soloed a powered aircraft and who desire to earn an FAA private pilot certificate. Interested CAP cadets may find additional information on the ALS grant program at the TSA Web site at

Air Force Colonel Richard L. Anderson, former CAP National Commander and current TSA National President who is also Chief of the Air Force Auxiliary Division in the HQ USAF Directorate of Homeland Security at the Pentagon, welcomed the guests to this inaugural event by recounting the contributions of General Spaatz to the Air Force and CAP. After dinner, the centerpiece event of the gathering unfolded with the unveiling of TSA’s Spaatz Commemorative Coin to memorialize the life, service, and contributions of General Spaatz as the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, followed by over 10 years of service as the first Chairman of the CAP National Board, the position that we now know as CAP National Commander.

In fitting manner, attendees dined in the same facilities frequented by General Spaatz and his wartime colleagues at the Army and Navy Club in Washington. During the course of the evening, Dr Mervin K. Strickler, former Director of Aerospace Education at CAP National Headquarters in the 1950s during General Spaatz’s tenure as CAP National Board Chairman, recounted the General’s pivotal role in ensuring the continuation of the World War II Civil Air Patrol as a peacetime Auxiliary of the US Air Force after cessation of hostilities.

Dr Strickler was followed by General Spaatz’s youngest daughter, Ms Carla Spaatz-Thomas, who regaled the group with humorous and serious anecdotes about General Spaatz and her childhood experiences as one of his three daughters. Ms Spaatz-Thomas was accompanied to the dinner by her son, Mr Carl A. Spaatz-Thomas, who is also the grandson of General Spaatz.

A very special highlight of the evening was presentation of the General Carl A. Spaatz Award to two recipients, Capt (former Cadet Colonel) Andrew J. Welch of the Illinois Wing and Cadet Colonel Louis R. Gabriel of the Hawaii Wing. The awards were jointly presented by Air Force Lt Gen Donald A. Lamontagne, commander of the Air Force’s Air University at Maxwell AFB, AL, and CAP Maj Gen Richard L. Bowling, National Commander of Civil Air Patrol. A special honor was bestowed on Capt Welch and Cadet Colonel Gabriel by the participation of Ms Spaatz-Thomas in the award ceremony.

The final event of the evening was the keynote address given by Air Force Brig Gen David E. Clary, Air Force Director of Homeland Security and the Air Force’s senior Pentagon official who oversees the policy, guidance, and advocacy process for CAP at Headquarters US Air Force. Gen Clary addressed the critical role that Homeland Security plays in planning for today’s Air Force, as well as the critical role that the Civil Air Patrol will play as the Air Force Auxiliary when it is tasked with Homeland Security missions. Gen Clary, along with the other distinguished guests, was presented with a special Spaatz Commemorative Coin for his participation in this historic event.

Among other distinguished guests in attendance were Mr. Michael L. Dominguez, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs; Retired Air Force Lt Gen Nicholas B. Kehoe, former chair and newly elected vice chair of the CAP Board of Governors; and CAP Col Robert C. Bess, newly elected chair of the CAP Board of Governors.

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