Cadets Receive Earhart and Mitchell Awards

The Bowie Civil Air Patrol is celebrating the recent accomplishments of two of its young members.

Fifteen-year-old Erich Welch is the recipient of CAP's Amelia Earhart Award, named in honor of the pilot who lost her life while attempting to be the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. The award marks the completion of three out of five milestones in CAP's cadet program. With this award, Mr. Welch receives a promotion to the rank of cadet captain.

Fifteen-year-old Joshua Williams is also being honored with a promotion to the rank of cadet second lieutenant after receiving the General Billy Mitchell Award. The decoration is named in honor of the late Brigadier General who was considered an aviation pioneer, advocate and staunch supporter of an independent Air Force for America. To receive this award, a cadet must complete the second out of five milestones in the cadet program.

Each award represents a high level of achievement within CAP. The cadet program exposes teens to a structured curriculum of aerospace education, leadership, physical fitness, and moral and ethical values. The cadets are required to pass a battery of written tests as well as to demonstrate strong leadership skills within the unit in order to receive the awards.

Both teens will wear ribbons on their uniforms representing their achievements. In addition, both are eligible to enlist at a higher pay grade in several branches of the military, if they should decide to join the service.

Bowie Composite Squadron Commander, 1st Lt. Jeff Welch, credits Majors Harry and Linda Everest for much of the cadets' success. The husband and wife team oversees the unit's cadet program. "Both work very hard in encouraging cadets all the way through the program and it's not without their encouragement that the cadets get where they are," says Welch.

The cadet program is one of three main missions of the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Other missions include emergency services and aerospace education. There are approximately 1,300 CAP members in Maryland. For more information about the Bowie Composite Squadron, visit