2012 TSA Annual Dinner Keynote Speaker, General Norty Schwartz

The Spaatz Association Annual Dinner and Awards Event
Saturday, 3 March 2012
General Norty Schwartz
Remarks as Presented

Introduction

General Bowlds, thank you very much for that kind introduction, and more importantly, for the opportunity to address this very distinguished audience of Spaatz family members, the Spaatz Association, and, of course, the men and women of the Civil Air Patrol. Steve, thank you for your leadership of the Spaatz Association. And Chuck and Don, we are grateful for your leadership of the Civil Air Patrol.

I am very pleased to see many old friends, and aviation enthusiasts and supporters, here tonight. In particular, I am heartened to see in this audience so many young men and women who are part of the Civil Air Patrol’s corps of nearly 27,000 cadets nationwide. I am confident that all adult leaders and mentors in this room share this sentiment with me.

To our young and talented C.A.P. cadets: I salute you for your commitment to character and leadership development; to aviation and the aerospace field; and to the other key tenets of the C.A.P. cadet program: physical fitness and all-around wellness, including serving as examples of a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. The time is now, while you are in school, to prepare yourself for a productive future— one that will make a difference in your communities and your Nation. I am very pleased to see that you have taken your first steps toward committing to some form of service to our Nation.

The Spaatz Association

As you embark on a future that promises to be as fulfilling as you are committed to making it, realize that you are following in the footsteps of distinguished leaders and patriotic Americans who continue to serve our country with distinction, in a variety of civilian and military positions.

My friend, Lieutenant General Ted Bowlds, is an exceptional example of a former Spaatz Award winner who went on to serve our Air Force and our Nation over an illustrious 36-year career. I know that Ted and all members of the Spaatz Association feel strongly about giving back to the Civil Air Patrol, which guided and nurtured them through their formative years, and helped to develop them as thoughtful and productive leaders.

That’s why the Spaatz Association exists—to encourage award recipients to continue to serve long after being bestowed with the highly coveted Spaatz Award. And we all are very grateful for their efforts.

Civil Air Patrol’s 70th Anniversary

In addition to honoring our award recipients tonight, we are here to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Civil Air Patrol. I salute the 61,000 volunteer members of the C.A.P., who, across the Nation, provide that day-to-day guidance, mentorship, and inspiration for the nearly 27,000 cadets, ages 12 to 20, of the Civil Air Patrol. By engaging our young cadets in aerospace education, leadership and character development, and other programs and opportunities, C.A.P. inspires our Nation’s youth in many meaningful ways.

We are very thankful for the C.A.P., which, since 1941, has served our Nation faithfully as an Air Force partner in providing airpower for civil support. From humble beginnings as “flying Minutemen” and “sub chasers” in World War II, to flying in 2011 more than 102,000 hours—74% of which were at the Air Force’s request—in support of local-, state-, regional-, and national-level efforts, this venerated organization can be proud of its tremendous accomplishments.

So on this 70th anniversary, we salute the Civil Air Patrol for its impressive history of effective utilization of aviation, such as with U.S. disaster relief efforts across varied terrains, and in dire conditions including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, winter storms, and even a tsunami. We also reflect with gratitude on the 54 lives that the Civil Air Patrol saved in search-and-rescue missions in Fiscal Year 2011.

But Civil Air Patrol not only performs these and other vital functions for our country. Through emphasis in leadership and character development, physical fitness, and overall wellness, the C.A.P. exposes our youth to what it means to serve, and to lead others to do the same. We are extremely proud that the C.A.P. Cadet Program, with aviation as its cornerstone, is among the finest, most respected youth development programs in the country.

An Air and Space Nation

We in this room know very well that aviation affords our Nation with wide- ranging benefits, particularly given that we emerged as the world’s first—and by many measures are still the world’s only—genuine air and space nation. We took to the skies in powered flight over the sands of Kitty Hawk, and we remained on that ever upward trajectory, bounded not even by “the surly bonds of earth,” until we landed at the Sea of Tranquility.

And what began as romantic notions of yesteryear have become indispensible everyday utilities of today. As aerospace enthusiasts and supporters, we know that America depends on aerospace for a wide range of strategic interests involving commerce, diplomacy, military matters, and intelligence, to name just a few.

And current trends strongly suggest a continued upward flight path for aviation’s role in our national interests and daily lives. From a military perspective, I can point to the Air Force’s modernization efforts to continue to prepare military airpower for maximum effectiveness in the future security environment—for example, recapitalizing our tactical air combat fleet with the F-35, or our Nation’s future strategic airlift capability with the KC-46A. Perhaps some of you, our C.A.P. cadets, will be directly involved with these programs someday.

And on the commercial and civil aviation front, the Federal Aviation Administration forecasts that system capacity in “available seat miles,” which is the overall measure of aviation activity level, both domestically and internationally, will increase around 4.5 percent this year, and then is anticipated to grow at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent through 2031.

This handful of high-level facts, as well as many, many others, presages a continuing upward trend of aviation and airpower’s importance to our Nation’s interests. So for those who love to take to the skies: the ability to pursue high aspirations, and the prospects for achieving great deeds, are as much a privilege as it is exciting.

Conclusion

Over the last several years, Suzie and I have had the privilege of recognizing exceptional performance routinely on our travels all over the country and the world. When we look back at our time in serving in this high office—for which the standard of performance was set by none other than the legendary Carl A. Spaatz himself—we will most remember the time that we spent with young Airmen and their remarkably generous and supportive family members.

And Suzie and I will certainly remember that on one mild evening in March, in our Nation’s capital, we got to spend time with the Spaatz family, their namesake association, and the wonderful volunteers and cadets of the Civil Air Patrol. Ladies and gentlemen, on this special evening, you have honored me with the opportunity to share a few thoughts.

I close by emphasizing the importance of mentoring our youngsters, because we eventually will hand the mantle to these talented—in so many cases, even more capable—young Americans. The consequential deeds of our young men and women who currently serve will be followed by the accomplishments of many of the bright and talented cadets in this room, and elsewhere. We need generous and thoughtful people who will strive to excel in all of their tasks, no matter large or small, team or individual, routine or extraordinary. Every step counts as progress, and every member of the team matters.

Again, to the cadets in this room: I am rooting for you, I’m behind you 100 percent, and I trust that your continued educational, leadership, and character development leads you to an exciting and fulfilling career in service to our Nation, whether in uniform or otherwise. I will say that if you wish to demand the most of yourself, if you strive to discipline yourself to achieve lofty goals, and if you desire to uphold the highest standards of performance, then we have a place for you in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for the very warm, very palpable camaraderie tonight. Suzie and I wish all the very best to you and your families.

And now—on with the program and the highlight of the evening: the presentations of the Spaatz Awards, where we honor very deserving individuals, and recognize their hard-earned achievements.

Thank you.

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