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Illinois Wing Cadet Earns 2405th Spaatz Award

July 17, 2022

Spaatz Award 2405 Cadet Colonel Connor McGuire having new rank pinned on his shoulders by Maj Gillingham and Capt Grossman

In early June, Illinois Wing's Connor McGuire earned a promotion to Cadet Colonel after receiving Civil Air Patrol's 2405th Spaatz award and achieving the coveted Cadet Colonel rank. Members of the elite and storied group of Spaatz award recipients represent fewer than 1% of all cadets. Becoming a Spaatz award-winner requires completing all cadet achievements and the Spaatz examination battery, including a final Leadership Exam and physical fitness test.

A Journey Through the Entire Cadet Program

Cadet Colonel McGuire's journey started in December of 2016 when visiting the then still-to-be-formed Colonel Compton Composite Squadron in Evanston, Illinois. "My mom really wanted me to be a boy scout. But then I got an email from my school about a new CAP squadron that had some correlation to flying." Soon after, then Cadet Airman McGuire attended Indiana Wing's summer encampment. "It was a culture shock. I wanted to quit the first couple of days, but then I had an orientation ride, and things turned around."  Shown Attending Connor McGuire's IL Wing Commander were CAP memebrs Col. Loy, Capt. Grossman, Cadet Colonel Connor McGuire, and Maj. Gillingham

Over the next few years, C/Col McGuire stretched himself and pursued various leadership roles and training opportunities. In 2018, he handled logistics at Illinois' Spring encampment and earned Ground Team Member 1-3 at NESA. In 2019, C/Col McGuire was the cadet office in charge (OIC) of the Illinois Spring Encampment and attended Illinois and Indiana Wing's Summer Encampments. During the COVID-induced slowdowns of 2020 and 2021, he kept moving forward. He attended the Pacific Coast Region's Cadet Leadership School, became his squadron's cadet commander, was appointed as the Wing's Cadet Advisory Council (CAC) Chair, and is the Assistant Representative to Great Lake Region's CAC.

So far in 2022, he played competitive water polo, swam on his high school team, and attended NESA's Wilderness Advanced First Aid course. This summer, Connor is on track to be the C/Deputy Commander for Support of the Illinois Wing's summer encampment and is heading to the National Cybersecurity Academy in Michigan.

A Chance to Fly

Flying comes up often when talking with C/Col McGuire. He knew at an early age that he wanted to be around planes, and CAP gave him the chance to fly. After flying gliders at Johnson Flight academy in 2018, he started training for his private pilot's license, which he earned in powered aircraft in 2021 at northern Illinois' Waukegan Airport. He's since gone back to Johnson in 2022 and soloed in gliders. Cadet McGuire is working this summer to fly a form 5 in the Wing's powered aircraft and make the G1000 transition. "Something about flying forces you to focus on the flight and shut out the rest of the world. It demands your attention but is also relaxing." 

Connor McGuire is without a doubt the most enthusiastic and optimistic leader I have ever known, and his contagious energy and determination lead every mission he is part of to success.

- Cadet Captain Yonatan Norber

Throughout it all, friendly competition kept him on track. "Some cadets have the grit to get through the program on their own. The vast majority do better with a team." C/Col McGuire credits countless other cadets and senior members around the country for helping and guiding him through the years. His advice to other cadets? "Find someone to push you. Find someone to push. One person can only do so much. Go to activities outside of yourself so you learn new skills and meet new people. Be a part of national activities and take those chances to experience people from around the US. There is nothing in CAP where you are totally alone."

"When I joined CAP, I wanted to make airplanes. Now, CAP has helped me see that I want to make spacecraft."

- Cadet Colonel Connor McGuire

This fall, C/Col McGuire heads to Purdue University's College of Engineering. After his first year, he is looking to double major in nuclear engineering and aerospace engineering, focusing on propulsion. If history is any indicator, there is no doubt he will be successful.



Tagged As: Cadet Cadet Programs Spaatz award

For More Information:

Media looking for more information about this story or about Civil Air Patrol should contact:

Capt. H. Michael Miley, CAP CFII
Public Affairs Officer - Chicago Senior Squadron 
Assistant Public Affairs Officer - Illinois Wing

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