Only 3% of cadets nationwide receive the Amelia Earhart award.
Harry Dunn, 15, of Sauk Center, received the Amelia Earhart award and the core value of Respect award at an Alexandria Civil Air Patrol award banquet for his sustained excellence in four areas of cadet life: leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character.
The banquet took place at New Life Christian Church on Tuesday, Nov. 30.
"It shows my hard work has paid off," said Dunn. "It is a really big deal for me because it is one of the steps to get to Cadet Colonel, which is one of my goals."
Cadet Colonel is the highest rank in the CAP; only 1% of cadets earn the rank.
To earn the award, Dunn had to take a comprehensive review of aerospace topics from history, navigation and how a plane operates; receive an 80% or higher grade on leadership topics and styles and complete a physical fitness test. Other prerequisites for the award include reciting the Cadet Oath from memory and active participation in unit meetings.
"The hardest part for me was the reading that went into studying because of my dyslexia," he said.
Receiving the award means he has completed phase three — the command phase— and promoted Dunn to Cadet Captain, requiring him to take on more of a command role within the squadron. If Dunn decides to enter into the senior level of the CAP, he will be able to enter at the rank of captain. He is also eligible to participate in the International Air Cadet Exchange — an annual student exchange program designed to promote character, goodwill and cooperation among the world's civilian auxiliary aviation programs.
"I was a little nervous accepting the award, but my dad said, 'Harry, you don't need to be nervous. You already did the hard stuff; this is the fun stuff,'" said Harry.
Dunn said he first joined the CAP three years ago after his friend, Ben Kakac, invited him to a search-and-rescue exercise during taekwondo practice.
"I really enjoyed it. My time in the CAP means a lot to me, and I have learned a lot about the military and what it means to serve as well as to keep persisting," said Dunn.
Dunn plans on joining the Air Force and becoming a SERE specialist — whose job is to train airmen to survive, evade, resist and escape any situation in any environment — or become part of the security forces — the airforce's version of military police.
Once Dunn is eligible to receive a pension from the Air Force, he would like to study history — a passion of his — at either the University of Minnesota or Bemidji State University, where his grandpa studied, to become a history teacher.
Dunn says learning the core values of the CAP — respect, integrity, service and excellence — has helped him a lot, and he hopes they will continue to help him reach his goals.