Family means everything to Col. Rose Hunt. As one of 16 children (she’s No. 5), mother of five (sons Corey and Ken and stepchildren Levi, Hannah and Luke) as well as grandmother of 11, she understands the art of giving, taking care of others, and loving what you do and how you do it.

The Hunt Family Cadet Scholarship is her way of helping Civil Air Patrol cadets achieve their dreams while honoring her late brother, Herb, and father, Harold.

Growing up, she witnessed her parents’ big hearts. “My mom and dad were very humble, giving, caring people – my mom still is,” Hunt said.

Pillars of their church and community, volunteering with local Scout troops, helping other families in need, Harold and Marian Hunt were always there to lend a hand.

Great Lakes RegionAs Great Lakes Region commander since January 2022, Hunt continues a family tradition of serving her country. She oversees the Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin wings, which include 6,600 volunteers, 66 powered aircraft, 110 vehicles, and six gliders.

Her husband flew the F-15E Strike Eagle in the U.S. Air Force, a brother also served in the  Air Force, and her father was in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

If son Ken had not decided at 15 that he wanted to be a fighter pilot, joining the CAP family would never have happened for Hunt. One day in 1997 she took him to a local airport, where they met with the Wisconsin Wing’s Eau Claire Composite Squadron.

“He loved it — the uniforms, the airplanes, the structure,” she recalled.WIeau

And since Hunt was there for every meeting, adult members asked her to be a part of the squadron as well. Ken eventually discovered he could only fly on Dramamine, meaning no pilot slot in his future, but his mother stayed on — continuing to help after his early graduation and subsequent enlistment in the Air Force. (He retired in 2020 as a B-1 bomber crew chief.)

Moving through the ranks didn’t come easy. “I was the most shy person in my high school class. CAP and its mentors helped me grow as a person — I’ve gotten more from CAP than I’ve ever been able to give back,” said Hunt, who served as Wisconsin Wing commander from May 2014-May 2018.

Pouring her family’s legacy of giving into customer service and customer experience, both in her older son’s real estate business and in the restaurant group where she worked and eventually bought before selling the final one last year, she still had even more to give.  

For 13 years, Hunt was a third-grade classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement, which uses volunteers to help prepare students to succeed, inspiring them through the sharing of business world experiences.

I learned to do my public speaking with third graders — they love everybody!” she said. For “on-the-job” experience, she’d take them to a restaurant to bake chocolate chip cookies.

“Some time ago, I talked to Kristina Jones, chief growth officer and president/executive director of the CAP Foundation,” Hunt recalled, “and told her I wanted to do something to honor my brother’s memory and help cadets.”

 The opportunity arose after her father, who’d retired and begun working with her at the restaurants, passed away in 2018. When she received money from his estate, her husband suggested she use it to help others “because that’s what my father did,” Hunt said.

“That’s when I decided to create a scholarship — to honor my family’s legacy and love of giving.”  

In November she and Jones were in Dallas when her husband told her his mother had just taken seriously ill. “I turned to Kristina and said: ‘It’s time,’” Hunt recalled. “I want to get this [scholarship] started to honor my family and the essence of my parents and their values.”

Her desire to help everyone in the CAP family is her true legacy, though.

“I always had the heart and passion for people to understand what is asked of them and provide them with the tools needed to succeed,” Hunt said.

As the founder and former director of CAP’s National Mentoring Program, she said the idea for the project began germinating the day she realized so many members lacked access to skilled mentors like those who had helped guide her.

Launched with only 12 adult members, including one from each of the eight CAP regions, the now-323-mentors-strong program benefits members, young and old, across the country.

“I’m very proud of this team,” Hunt said. She added that she asks her region’s wing commanders to serve as mentors to their members.

“They are doing an outstanding job of growing our humans,” she said with a smile.

Col. Raj Kothari, CAP Foundation chair,  employed the same reference  in assessing Hunt’s overall approach to Civil Air Patrol. “Rose has always believed in focusing and helping the ‘humans’ in CAP,” said Kothari, himself a longtime leader in the Great Lakes Region, including three years as Michigan Wing commander. 

“The establishment of this scholarship is just another example of how Col. Hunt has found numerous was to support all CAP’s ‘humans,'” Kothari said.

When she mentors cadets, Hunt said. she teaches them the importance of integrity and respect for things and people: “I help prepare cadets for everyday life.”

She tells adult members that work can sometimes be difficult or frustrating, but the relationships and bonds that result are valuable.

“I met my best CAP friends during Wing Commander College,” said Hunt,  who now directs the annual training week at National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. “We’d never met before the college and became lifelong friends.”

huntquote“Col. Hunt’s love of family and love of CAP is what started the conversation to endow a scholarship through the foundation,” Jones said.

“Our first conversation was at a National Conference and began with ‘what would it take to set up a scholarship?’ 

“It was a pleasure to talk through options, and I’m so pleased we could help her realize this dream to support cadets,” Jones said.

The Hunt Family Scholarship supports cadet success financially nationwide through academic and flight scholarships.  

“Any child who needs something should have that opportunity to receive it,” Hunt said. “That’s what this scholarship is for.”

Cadets anywhere can apply for the scholarship to attend any National Cadet Special Activity.

“I give back because CAP helped my son,”  Hunt said. “I stayed in because I owe CAP a debt of gratitude for what they did for him and for me. It helped shape who and what I am today.”

Hunt lives in Illinois with her husband, retired Air Force Lt. Col, Geoffrey Biedermann, whom she met through CAP —  another reason she’s grateful to CAP, she said along with two rescue dogs and two horses.
Julia Martin
Contributing Writer