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Capt Casey Carnes Earns Her Spaatz Award

Carnes with Spaatz Award
Col Jayson Altieri (Left) presents Capt Casey Carnes with her Spaatz Award during the Graduation ceremony at the AL Wing Emergency Services School on 12 May 2019. PHOTO CREDIT: C/SMSgt Ana S. Guerra, CAP (click image to view full size)
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Col Jayson Altieri presents prestigious award to inspiring former cadet

5/26/2019––On 12 May 2019, during the Alabama Wing Emergency Services School (WESS) graduation, Col Jayson Altieri, former chair of Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) Board of Governors, presented Capt Casey Carnes with her Spaatz Award! Col Barry Melton, the Southeast Region Commander, and Col James Harris, the Alabama Wing Commander, were also present for the award presentation.

The General Carl A. Spaatz Award is the fifth and highest award that CAP cadets can earn. Named for the groundbreaking aviation pioneer, cadets who earn the award must live up to Gen Spaatz’s standards of excellence and they earn the grade of Cadet Colonel. Achievement of this milestone award requires successful completion of leadership and aerospace exams, a rigorous physical fitness test and demonstration of leadership abilities including principles of officership and the responsibilities of command. Approximately one percent of CAP cadets nationwide earn the Spaatz Award.

Capt Carnes joined CAP in December 2011 after attending an airshow at the Monroe Airport in North Carolina. A short time later both of her parents joined - though the family joke for years was that she made them join so that she could earn her recruitment ribbon. As a cadet, Capt Carnes promoted on a regular basis and became heavily involved in Emergency Services, first learning and then giving back by teaching and leading. She has been on the leadership staff for seven cycles of the National Emergency Services Academy and for five cycles of Alabama WESS.

Capt Carnes attended the North Carolina Wing encampment for the first time in June of 2012 and then returned almost yearly as a staff member. In 2016 she received a Region Commanders Commendation for her work as the Cadet Operations Officer at the North Carolina Wing encampment and then the next year she served as the Cadet Commander for the encampment. She also served as Cadet Commander for two Squadrons (NC-300 and NC-052) during her cadet career, as well as the first Cadet Commander for the North Carolina Drill and Ceremonies Academy.

In July of 2015, Casey was involved a serious roll-over automobile accident in which she sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. She had to relearn just about everything including how to read. Her memory of anything pre-accident was next to non-existent. At that point she had all but given up the idea of achieving her Spaatz Award due of the struggles of relearning and difficulties in recalling information. With time and an intense rehab program, she slowly began to regain her memories and functionality. In August of 2018, after much encouragement from many in the NC Wing, she took the Spaatz exam and passed it just before her 21st birthday!

“Casey Carnes' dedication and personal tenacity following her automobile mishap reflects well on the caliber of the young men and women serving as Civil Air Patrol cadets. She and previous Spaatz recipients, like CAP Brigadier General Richard Anderson, represent the highest traditions of excellence established by our first Chairman of the National Board – General Spaatz himself. That Casey elected to remain a Senior Member speaks well for the future of CAP’s leadership,” said Spaatz Award presenter, Col Jayson Altieri.

“Casey represents the best of our program not in just our wing but across the nation,” said Maj Grace Carnes, proud mother of the recipient. “I’m not only proud of her for receiving the Spaatz Award but also in overcoming her injuries and making her dreams come true.”