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Civil Air Patrol members going above and beyond
Civil Air Patrol Cadet 2nd Lt. Jack Greene of Turlock was presented with the General Billy Mitchell Award, a prestigious honor for students who have made great achievements during their time with the Civil Air Patrol. - photo by Photo Contributed

While most kids have been spending their summer vacations at home, a few local teens have been spending their summer training and learning all about aerospace education.

The Civil Air Patrol, an all-volunteer U.S. Air Force Auxiliary based out of Modesto, has been molding the young minds and ambitions of cadets between the ages of 12 and 19 for many years here in the Central Valley.

In late June, nine CAP cadets from the Central Valley completed the 2016 California Wing Encampment held at Camp San Luis Obispo.

Cadets Elizabeth Benavente (13, Modesto), Gino Estrella (13, Modesto), AnneMarie Fiori (14, Modesto), Nicholas Hahn (15, Hughson), Lucas Hardy (13, Oakdale), Zoe Hines (14, Modesto), Austin Kuesthardt (15, Modesto), Domenica Spaner (17, Tracy) and Nicholas Desomma (13, Turlock) attended along with over 200 other cadets and staff from around the state.

While at the camp, cadets learned a variety of basic fundamentals during their eight-day journey. These included things like classroom sessions on CAP and U.S. Air Force history, emergency services, obstacle courses, training in drills and ceremonies, physical fitness tests, M-16 rifle ranges and even volleyball competitions.

In addition to continued training with CAP, Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Jack Greene of Turlock was awarded the General Billy Mitchell Award, an honor that has been around since 1964.

The Mitchell Award is the second significant milestone in the CAP Cadet Program and is only given to cadets who finish the first eight steps of the program first, as well as pass a grueling 100 question exam.

With such a distinguished award, cadets who receive the Mitchell Award are immediately promoted to Cadet 2nd Lieutenant as well as becoming eligible for several scholarships through CAP and advanced placement in the grade of E-3 (Airman First Class) if they choose to join the U.S. Air Force.

“This award is an immense honor because it symbolizes my development in leadership and aerospace education throughout my time in CAP,” said Greene. “Not only that, it's a title that entrusts me as a leader and mentor to other developing cadets.”

Greene, a two-year member of CAP and previously a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in Victoria, British Columbia, is a sophomore at Turlock High School. He hopes to attend UC Berkeley to study engineering and then later join the U.S. Air Force and become a pilot.