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Earned honor: Civil Air Patrol celebrates prestigious cadet promotion

Apr. 3—EPHRATA — Daisy Carpenter, a member of the Columbia Basin Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, was promoted from cadet first lieutenant to cadet captain during a ceremony at Camp Boucher in Ephrata on Thursday evening.

Carpenter, 16, a resident of East Wenatchee, was also presented the CAP's Amelia Earhart Award on Thursday by Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Carpenter said before receiving the award. "It's taken a lot of work and it's nice to get recognition sometimes for that work."

The squadron's commander, Maj. Jerome Bonneville, said on average about 3% of cadets reach the rank of cadet captain nationwide.

"It takes quite a bit of work," Carpenter said. "There's a pretty rigorous test, academic test, on leadership that we have to take."

Carpenter, who will now be serving as the Cadet Squadron Commander, said the promotion took her three and a half years to earn.

"When I first joined Civil Air Patrol like three and a half years ago I was pretty timid," Carpenter said. "I didn't even raise my hand to speak in class. I wanted to quit, like 'This is too much, it's too scary,' and my parents talked to me and said 'You can do this.' So I really attribute a lot of my success to them. They really pushed me and helped me. So that kind of decision way back in the beginning of Civil Air Patrol to stick with it and keep going really motivated me to get here."

Bonneville said he expects Carpenter to do well in the future.

"She moved here from out of state, she came in and I had great expectations for her after meeting her," he said. "She's a very focused individual who has goals and she works very diligently to accomplish those goals. I have great expectations for her in the future."

Bonneville elaborated on what he sees as the benefits of the CAP for its cadets.

"There are several big items. A nationwide program opens its doors to them; they're able to go to activities all over the country, along with local activities and statewide and regional activities," he said. "They are able to build friendships and relationships all over, and these are relationships that will last a lifetime. They learn so much just on how to be adults and to be servant leaders and (Carpenter) has a real taste for that, for being a servant leader."

During the ceremony, CAP Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Roger Patry read a brief biography of Carpenter's time with the CAP.

"When she did join Civil Air Patrol, she already had strong morals and foundations for leadership experience to build on," Patry said. "She became a flight sergeant, learned quickly, rising to a flight commander position, and then she was promoted to cadet second lieutenant ... She moved from Virginia, where she was the first female cadet officer (in her squadron), and joined our squadron and has served in various leadership positions."

Rep. Tom Dent then presented the Amelia Earhart Award to Carpenter.

"First of all, thank you for allowing me to do this. This is an honor," Dent said. "I've been a career aviator and aviation has been my life and my love. It's an honor to stand here with you, Captain, and give you this award."

Bonneville then said a few words about Carpenter's time with the squadron.

"I was awestruck by her ability to be a leader, to fit in, to be compassionate to those subordinate to her, to support those who were of a higher rank than her and to fit in and mesh into a whole new squadron," he said. "It really showed her ability to get along with people, to set goals, and then work diligently to accomplish those goals. I mentored her when she came in to take the test. She passed on the first attempt, which is almost unheard of. Three percent of the cadets nationwide accomplish this rank. It's something that she and her family should be very proud of."

Carpenter spoke during the ceremony as well.

"In our family, we will once a week either say something we struggled with and what we've learned from it or something we've accomplished and what trait we used to accomplish that," Carpenter said. "Tonight, I've been given this award and I'd say that's a bit of an accomplishment. So one thing I think really helped me with that is determination ... If there's one thing I can tell all of you cadets it is stick with it, keep going, and someday you can do it too."

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.