CAP cadet promoted to officer

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Civil Air Patrol Cadet Second Lt. Payton Merrick (left) receives her insignia from her mother, Second Lt. Tina Merrick, and Lt. Cmdr. Tom Hines, the commander of the CAP Paducah Composite Squadron. Merrick was promoted from an enlisted cadet to a cadet officer on Monday. DAVID B. SNOW | The Sun

In almost every endeavor, there is a desire to move up in the ranks. Workers seek to be administrators, Scouting has its Eagle Scouts and the military has promotions throughout its ranks.

Payton Merrick understands the pride of promotion herself, as she became an officer in the Civil Air Patrol Paducah Composite Squadron on Monday, becoming a cadet second lieutenant in a ceremony held at the Armed Forces Readiness Center in West Paducah.

“It’s part of the progression of going through the ranks, going from enlisted to officer,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tom Hines, the squadron commander. “It’s that critical step. ... (Being promoted) is not just a matter of taking a test and getting an award. It’s a matter of being persistent and consistent within the program.”

Those being promoted to officer in the Civil Air Patrol earn the Billy Mitchell Award. Mitchell was a staunch advocate of the use of airplanes in the military after World War I, to the point of insubordination after meeting with skeptical resistance. He retired as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Air Service.

Those earning the Billy Mitchell Award are eligible to attend Cadet Officer School and the Civic Leadership Academy. If they choose to enlist in the Air Force, they may enter as an airman first class (E-3). The award is also advantageous to entering the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“(Merrick) shows a lot of leadership; she’s kind of a johnny-on-the-spot in terms of progressing through the ranks, being on time or ahead of schedule,” Hines said. “She’s full of enthusiasm, full of energy – an excellent executioner of her duties. She’s helpful to others.

“What we teach is leadership and followship. The first day, you can’t lead; you can only follow, but as soon as you learn something, you are responsible to turn around and teach it to others, and she’s been very good at that. She’s been a very good example for the others.”

Merrick, a two-year cadet, is in the eighth grade at Kelly Middle School in Benton, Missouri, an hour’s drive to the Armed Forces Readiness Center.

“I feel like the squadron here gives me a better chance at things I want to achieve in my life,” she said. “I would like to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado for college. That would be a great goal for me and open a lot of doors. I would also love to be a pilot.

“(Being promoted to an officer) feels like a huge accomplishment. I really love the feeling.”

Merrick also earned the Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Cadet Medal, presented by Kathy Toy, the regent and First District director of the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Civil Air Patrol cadets range in age from 12 to 21 and meet at 6 p.m. every Monday at the Armed Forces Readiness Center. Hines invited those who might be interested in joining to attend the meetings and see if it is something that they would want to be part of.

“There’s a lot of room for a lot of different skill sets in the unit,” he said, referring to adult volunteers. “People who like to do finance or people who like to do public relations. Legal matters, people who like to teach – all those kinds of things.”

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