Maryland teen to receive Civil Air Patrol award

May 3—A teenager from Maryland will be honored Tuesday night at the Tri-County Flight Civil Air Patrol meeting in Sidney.

Joshua Nelson, 16, is scheduled to receive the Mitchell Award. He was recently promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. His father, Michael Nelson, is a first lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol.

The Civil Air Patrol is the official volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Members assist with search and rescue, disaster response and emergency services. The nationwide auxiliary has 2,500 drones it can use during disaster relief. There are two tracking teams. One team has learned how to track people using cellphone pings on cell towers to find missing people and the other uses radar analysis to track downed planes. Each member can go through the training they are interested in.

Joshua said he plans to join the Air Force to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, and joining the Civil Air Patrol is a good way to get experience. He has been a member of the local chapter for four years.

Michael said they joined the NY-189 chapter, which used to meet at the Oneonta Airport, in January 2020, then COVID-19 hit and the numbers of members declined so much that the chapter closed. The two then traveled to Binghamton to attend meetings until there were enough people to recharter the NY-189 chapter in Sidney four months ago. The patrol meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Cultural Center at 1 Bridge Street in Sidney.

Joshua will receive the Billy Mitchell Award during an awards ceremony and dinner May 7. The Mitchell Award marks completion of Phase II of the CAP Cadet Program, recognizing "sustained excellence in all four areas of cadet life: leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character," a media release said. To earn the award, Joshua said he had to pass two closed-book exams, one on leadership and one on the seven dimensions of aerospace, pass a physical fitness test and complete a week-long encampment. These topics included everything from introduction to flight to cybernetics.

"Being homeschooled has enabled me to do more CAP than if I was going to regular school," Joshua said.

Earning the Mitchell Award will allow Joshua to enter the Air Force at the advanced grade of E-3, Airman First Class, the release said. Once a cadet earns the Mitchell Award, he or she becomes a cadet officer, is promoted to the grade of cadet second lieutenant, and is challenged to lead and serve junior-ranking cadets, while continuing to develop into a "dynamic American and aerospace leader."

People can join the Civil Air Patrol at age 12 and serve as cadets.

For more information about the local Civil Air Patrol Chapter, visit

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.