Remembering John V. “Jack” Sorenson

Posted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 7:08 pm    Post subject: Remembering John V. “Jack” Sorenson by Stephen W. Austen, Spaatz #161

Remembering John V. “Jack” Sorenson – 1924-1998

Jack Sorenson, c. 1990

With the passing of Jack Sorenson on August 14, 1998, the CAP Cadet Program lost it’s most faithful mentor, supporter and friend. “The Coach” as he was known – which alludes to his early days as a football coach at Weber High School in Ogden, Utah – was also known as the ”Father of The Modern Day Cadet Program”.

Without his vision and dedication the Cadet Program that challenged us to grow, develop and excel – and not to mention The General Carl A. Spaatz and Frank Borman Falcon Awards — simply would not be here.

Let us pause to ponder the career of this true icon of Aerospace Education and Leadership and celebrate the highlights of his distinguished career of service:

Jack Sorenson, c. 1945

• 1945 – Army Air Corps fighter pilot
• 1950 – Educator and football coach, Weber High School in Ogden, Utah
• 1954 – Director of Aerospace Education, Pacific Region
• 1962 – CAP Deputy Chief of Staff for Aerospace Education
• 1964 – Designed/implemented the Modern Day CAP Cadet Program
• Created the AE program for CAP Senior Members
• Founded the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education
• Guided formulation of The World Congress of Aerospace Education
• 1983 – Retired from CAP with 29 years of service
• 1987 – Inducted into CAP’s National Hall of Honor

There is a generation of earlier CAP Cadets who will remember him as he personally led our Cadet Program. Whether we met him, heard him speak or benefited by his leadership we remember “The Coach” fondly.

Those who did not have that privilege are also the beneficiaries of his legacy. His example of servant-leadership by the investment of his abilities and blessings into the CAP Cadet Program has assured a better future for every generation of his Cadets.


Stephen Austen
National President
The Spaatz Association

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3 comments to “Remembering John V. “Jack” Sorenson”

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    TSA Webmaster - Dec 22, 2011

    Posted: Sun Nov 27, 2005 3:12 pm

    What a great tribute, Steve. Jack is sorely missed. His contributions were immeasurable and the honor of his friendship was impossible to quantify. He was a grand educator and a good friend.

    Marla K. Patterson, Spaatz #101

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    TSA Webmaster - Dec 22, 2011

    Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2005 4:02 am

    I still think we ought to push for the CAP National Cadet of the Year trophy to be named in his honor. If not that, then maybe the top COS graduate.

    Matt Johnson, Spaatz #901
    Spaatz Association Webmaster

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    TSA Webmaster - Dec 22, 2011

    Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:57 pm by Rick H. Busig, Spaatz #125

    Post subject: Jack Sorenson – 1971 Advanced Cadet Leadership Symposium


    7- 10 January 1971

    By John V. Sorenson
    Deputy Chief of Staff for Aerospace Education & Cadet Programs:

    Cadets of the first Advanced Cadet leadership Symposium, my task is to charge or assign you your responsibilities for this symposium. You have been welcomed by General duPont, Chairman of the Board and a former CAP cadet, given the ground rules by Captain Dempsey and heard cadet program history and hopes from Colonel Hayes, the Symposium Director.

    Sitting here and realizing what you stand for brings to mind the memories and faces of two dear friends now departed from this realm, by name Gill Robb Wilson and Charles W. Webb. Both have made great contributions to Civil Air Patrol and this nation. Gill Robb, probably the most talented man with words as I have ever met and the founder of Civil Air Patrol, would have assigned you a very specific mission, one of great importance, and he would have said it through one of the poems that he had written for his Airman’s World, one of three books he authored. I will use a poem from this book as a part of the charge. The following verses prescribe the pattern of your future acts as he would have insisted if you’re to support the cause of Civil Air Patrol through this symposium, a cause that Gill Robb Wilson lived and died for.

    So long as this is a free man’s world
    somebody has to lead;

    Somebody has to carry the ball in word
    and thought and deed;

    Somebody’s got to knock on doors which
    never have known a key;

    Somebody’s got to see the things that
    the throng would never see.

    Hotter than thrust when the boost is hit,
    somebody’s faith must burn;

    And faster than mach when the rocket’s lit,
    somebody’s mind must turn;

    Somebody’s got to get the proof for what
    the designers plan;

    And test the dreams that the prophets dream
    in behalf of their fellow man

    Somebody’s got to think of pay in terms
    that are more than gold;

    And somebody has to spend himself to buy
    what the heavens hold;

    Somebody’s got to leave the crowd and walk
    with his fears alone;

    Somebody’s got to accept the thorns and
    weave for himself a crown.

    It’s ever thus as the ages roll and the
    record’s written clear–

    Somebody has to give himself as the
    price of each frontier;

    Somebody has to take a cross and climb
    to a rendezvous

    Where a lonesome man with a will to lead
    can make the truth shine through.

    Charley Webb, on the other hand, not so eloquent in words as Gill Robb Wilson but totally dedicated to education and young people would have smiled and beamed all over had he had the chance to be here this evening. There is one particular piece of poetry that he felt particularly strong about written by Maltbie Davenport Babcock. It was entitled “Be Strong,” and it goes this way.



    We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
    We have hard work to do and loads to lift;
    Shun not the struggle – face it; ’tis God’s gift.


    Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”
    And fold the hands and acquiesce – oh, shame!
    Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.


    It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
    How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
    Faint not – fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

    Charlie Webb was a giant in this program and was the reason for our direction tonight. Oh, that he were here —

    To be more specific, we did not bring you here to have you change the program. There is a five-year moratorium on cadet program change, and it was General Ellis’s and General duPont’s express wishes that you dwell upon how you would implement the program rather than try to invent another one. So this is your first task — to implement the one we have.

    I don’t know whether you understand the price that has been paid for Civil Air Patrol up to this point. You have as your leader in the Chairman of the Board, a former cadet, a brilliant young man, a person who has, as Gill Robb said, woven himself a crown with patience and forbearance far beyond his years would allow. Some day Hal’s story of having to wait, that most transient quality of youth, and having to “eat crow” at the same time just to remain with the program will be told. When this happens, you’ll appreciate more the Chairman and what he stands for.

    What sort of a price are you willing to pay for CAP in and through this symposium? Can you make the truth shine through? Have you got the guts to come here and be reflective, subordinate yourself to the good of the group and this symposium and objectively tackle the tasks assigned you on techniques for implementing the program? This cannot be done by fools, by egotists nor by weaklings. We know you are intelligent, that much we can prove. We know that you have egos but are capable of controlling them. As to your being weaklings, we simply as that you be strong.


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