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Ablog earns Mitchell Award in CAP cadet program

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe The Civil Air Patrol Worthington Composite Squadron MN-113 celebrated the promotion of several cadets Tuesday night, including that of C/2nd Lt. Aric Ablog (second from right), who is shown here with his parents, Alan (left) and Shannon, and Commander Rod Byam.

WORTHINGTON -- It has been several years in the making and a lot of hard work, but a cadet from the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Worthington Composite Squadron MN-113 had been promoted to the rank of Commander Second Lieutenant.

C/2nd Lt. Aric Ablog was promoted Tuesday night, along with several members of his squadron, during a ceremony at the CAP building. Ablog received a Mitchell Award, a Red Service ribbon, a Recruiter ribbon and Service Clasps for performing more than 200 hours of community service.

The Mitchell Award has never been awarded to a member of the Worthington squadron, according to Deputy Commander in Charge of Cadets Bill Bolt.

"This is the first time we've had a cadet reach this level," he added.

The award, named after military leader and strategist Billy Mitchell, is the second milestone of the CAP cadet program and marks the end of Ablog's leadership phase.

Only 15 percent of CAP cadets earn the award, which makes Ablog eligible to be an Airman 1st Class if he joins the Air Force and is also worth advanced credits if he were to join the ROTC program.

"We are really proud of him," said his mother, Shannon, Tuesday night. "The CAP gives all of the kids so much opportunity, and we are so thankful to Commander Rod Byam, who kept the unit going when there were only two kids involved."

Aric's father, Alan, is just as proud of his son and the other cadets in the program, but admitted with a grin that it was the cadets, his son included, who did all the work.

Ablog, who is 17 years old and has been involved in CAP for three years, said the promotion was exciting.

"Hopefully it grants the opportunity for other cadets to see what is possible in the CAP program," he said. "There are so many things I have experienced through CAP that other people my age never have the chance to do."

Byam said Ablog has gone above and beyond what is expected of him, taking control of the cadet program, learning to delegate responsibility and becoming a better leader because of it.

"We want the cadets to run the program, and it's my job to facilitate it," Byam explained. "I'm hoping to see Aric continue to move forward with CAP."

In order to qualify for his new rank and the Mitchell Award, Aric had to pass comprehensive leadership and aerospace education exams, physical exams and attend a cadet encampment.

He also needed to demonstrate leadership ability, showing initiative in developing new skills, self-motivation and his capability to motivate others.

Aric had to make evident his core values, his ability to effectively communicate and his critical thinking skills, as well as his capacity to mentor others and a sense of responsibility.

"Moral leadership, training in emergency services, advancement -- these are all things kids learn in the CAP cadet program," Byam said. "I've heard the program referred to as the best kept secret in Worthington."

Other cadets receiving promotions or awards Tuesday night include Hunter Bolt, the Eddie Rickenbacker Award, C/TSgt., recruiter ribbon, Ground Team 3; Keegan Erwin, Wright Brothers Award, C/SSgt.; Jorge Fuentes, Curry, C/Amn, Ground Team 3; Matthew Richards, Curry, C/Amn; and James Arndt, Nathan Thompson and Taran Hunt, who all were promoted to Ground Team 3.

A recruiting ribbon is earned for recruiting at least two new members, Curry is the first award a cadet can earn, and Ground Team 3 is an emergency service promotion, enabling the cadet to be part of a search and rescue team.