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Obama surprises Spaatz award winner

February 06, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - One week after he took the oath of office, President Obama was on Capitol Hill congratulating one of the Civil Air Patrol's most accomplished cadets.

Much to the surprise of Cadet Col. David F. Hill IV and 14 members of West Virginia Wing's Martinsburg Composite Squadron accompanying him, Obama left a Jan. 27 luncheon and meeting with Republican senators at the U.S. Capitol to meet and greet each of the cadets and senior members gathered for Hill's official Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award presentation.

Named for a former Air Force general, the Spaatz award is the Civil Air Patrol's highest cadet honor.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., made the official Spaatz presentation at the Capitol, but shortly afterward it was announced Obama wanted to meet with the group.

West Virginia Wing Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Dennis Barron, who accompanied the Civil Air Patrol squadron to the Capitol, explained the significance of the Spaatz Award to Obama and introduced Hill and his father to the president.

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Obama congratulated Hill on his achievement and praised him for his dedication and commitment to the cadet program. The president then shook hands and spoke with all of the other members present. Afterward, Obama posed for a group photo with the Martinsburg squadron members.

"Meeting the president was one of the greatest and most memorable moments in my life," Hill said.

The Spaatz award is earned by less than one half of 1 percent of all of the cadets in the Civil Air Patrol. Hill is only the third cadet in the history of the Martinsburg squadron and just the 20th cadet in the West Virginia Wing to earn the coveted award since its inception in 1963.

Hill, a resident of Shepherdstown, W.Va., has been a member of the Martinsburg Squadron since October 2003.

While a member of the Civil Air Patrol's cadet program, he has received the Air Force Association Award, Veterans of Foreign Wars Award, Community Service Award, Commander's Commendation, Red Service Ribbon and Unit Citation.

Hill has attended two wing summer encampments, serving as a flight commander during the 2006 encampment. In addition, he attended Cadet Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 2007.

He is a ground team member of the Martinsburg squadron and currently serves as an adviser to the squadron commander. He also serves as the unit's primary representative to the Wing Cadet Advisory Council.

Hill is a senior at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy. He plans to go to college, attend law school and become a JAG officer in the U.S. Navy.

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