Gen. David W. Allvin knows there’s something special about being known by a number. The 23rd chief of staff of the Air Force even signs his name with an accompanying “#23.” 

SpaatzAssn“There’s a reason I do that,” he said during the Spaatz Association’s 20th Annual Midwinter Gala on March 2 in Washington, D.C. “I need to honor what No. 22 did. And I know that legacy that I feel so powerfully that I need to support started with No. 1.” 

In the 60-year history of the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – named after the first chief of staff of the Air Force – only 2,515 cadets have earned the honor as of the end of February. That number represents, on average, five cadets out of everyspaatzaward 1,000. 

“There are 995 cadets who are out there, either aspiring to be them or admiring them,” Allvin said. “That’s not a burden. That’s a responsibility, and it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to take this … well-earned award and roll it into the future. Help create that future that the country expects.” 

The banquet was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic’s start in 2020 that the Spaatz Association has been able to hold its annual event. This year marked its 30th anniversary. 

During the event the association highlighted two more very special numbers: 2,479 and 2,500. Those figures represent the Spaatz awards achieved by Cadet Cols. Thomas Lynch, 16, and Kieran Lynch, 18, from the Hawaii Wing’s Saint Louis Crusaders Composite Squadron. 

HIwingKieran Lynch said seeing his younger brother get his Spaatz award first inspired himHIstl to get there sooner than he’d planned. The two joined CAP in August 2019. 

“I think that’s something I would have put on hold until summer. I definitely had to get there half a year earlier (than anticipated),” he said. 

Capt. Brian Lynch, the squadron’s commander, joined CAP after watching his sons take part in the program for four months. The pair didn’t fight over who was going to their Spaatz first, Lynch said. 

“A lot of people ask about the rivalry, but in CAP we have wingmen,” he said. “They were more of a wingman, bringing each other along rather than going ‘I’m going to get there first’ or ‘I’m better than you.’ 

“They really brought each other to a higher standard.” 

For some cadets, though, friendly rivalry and competition can help them reach their potential. That was the case for Col. Janon “J.D.” Ellis, Spaatz Association president and chief of staff for CAP’s Mid-Atlantic Region. As a cadet, he was his squadron’s first Spaatz recipient – No. 661, achieved in September 1983. 

“The group of cadet officers there were extremely competitive,” Ellis said. “To keep pace, I had to keep promoting, attend meetings, participate actively, and increase my leadership skills. And they just kept me pursuing. As a cadet lieutenant colonel, there were cadets on my heel.” 

His Spaatz award continued to motivate his fellow cadets. 

“Right after me, they all got their Spaatz, four or five of them,” Ellis said. “One is now a former Florida Wing commander, so that tells you the caliber of cadets.” 

That kind of motivation, Allvin said, makes the Spaatz Association unique. 

“It’s very clear to me that there’s something different about this association,” he said. “I can apply to many associations and see if I can be part of that team. When you have to earn your way to be part of an association, it’s different than just putting an application together. It’s certainly like a hall of fame.” 

For the Lynch brothers, Civil Air Patrol did more than put them in a hall of fame. It gave them the skills to launch a career. 

“I’ve been learning a lot of new skills that actually help me,” Kieran Lynch said. “I’m going to be working at the Department of Defense this summer because of the cyber skills that Civil Air Patrol taught me. That led me down a whole new career path.” 

For Thomas Lynch, the goal is to become a future pilot. He credited the Hawaii Wing with helping him succeed. 

“We’ve had a lot of wing jobs, especially during COVID,” he said. “We helped senior members navigate the wing webpage. We had to move a lot of (IT) stuff around.” 

Civil Air Patrol has also helped launch many successful Air Force careers, as in Ellis’ case. He’s a 23-year veteran who earned the rating of master navigator with over 4,000 hours in the C-130. 

“Every chance I get, when I talk to cadets back at squadrons, I tell them two things: Take advantage of all the opportunities you are given in CAP and in life, and pursue the highest level you can attain in CAP and in life,” he said. 

When he was a cadet in the 1970s and 1980s, Ellis said, CAP offered fewer programs than it does today. He recommends cadets take advantage of every program possible. 

“NCSAs (National Cadet Special Activities), Cadet Wings, these things can help you develop your career path and develop your leadership skills,” Ellis said. “It’s going to help you get further in life.” 

The Lynch brothers said that’s exactly what they did. 

“Working in the Cadet Advisory Council and Cadet Development Team were the two big jobs that helped me get my name out there. Show up at wing events,” Kieran Lynch said. 

It’s those unique opportunities that differentiate Civil Air Patrol, and the Spaatz award, from other programs geared toward youth. 

“The country needs Civil Air Patrol,” Allvin said. “Our Air Force needs Civil Air Patrol. It’s only from the invitation from the community that we can retain that strength (as a country). Civil Air Patrol represents exactly that because you’re in the community and accomplishing things the active duty Air Force can’t do.” 
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Lt. Col. J. Elizabeth Peace 
Public Affairs Officer
Georgia Wing