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Special Cadet Program Awards

Every cadet knows about the Curry, Mitchell, Spaatz, and the other awards they naturally earn as they climb the ranks. But for cadets who achieve above and beyond basic expectations, special awards are available. This page summarizes Cadet Program awards for cadets, seniors, and cadet units. Note that some organizations that sponsor awards provide mementos that may or may not be authorized to wear on the uniform; see CAPR 39-1 for details. 


Table of Contents


Annual Award Winners

Awards for Individual Cadets

Awards for Individual Cadet Programs Officers (Adults)

Awards for Cadet Units

Awards of Historical Interest


2023 Award Winners

Awards for Individual Cadets

General Excellence

Award Name   Reference  Echelon  Suggested Niche 
CAP Cadet of the Year   CAPR 39-3 All Best cadet overall, total membership duration 
Air Force Association Award to Outstanding Cadets     CAPR 39-3    Squadron     Cadet at any level performs in superior manner during year; more information here
VFW Award to Outstanding Cadet Officers CAPR 39-3 Squadron Cadet officer lauded for leadership performance  
VFW Award to Outstanding Cadet NCOs CAPR 39-3 Squadron Excellence from a younger cadet NCO
Air Force Sergeants' Association Award
to Outstanding Cadet NCOs
CAPR 39-3 Squadron Best overall cadet NCO, total membership duration; more information
CAP Cadet of the Month Award(s) CAPR 60-1 Squadron Outstanding performance by a cadet airman or NCO during the preceding month; see program details  


Excellence in Aerospace Education

Award Name  Reference  Echelons 
Frank G. Brewer Memorial Cadet Aerospace Education Award      CAPR 50-1     Wing, Region, National    
Air Force Association Aerospace Education Cadet of the Year CAPR 50-1 Wing, Region, National; more information here


Excellence in Physical Fitness

Award Name Reference    Echelons Eligibility Note
Presidential Youth Fitness Award   Website Individuals at squadron     Available to all who qualify    
Presidential Active Lifestyle Award     Website Individuals at squadron Available to all who qualify


Awards for Accomplishments Made Outside of CAP

Award Name Reference Echelons Eligibility Note
The Congressional Award  
CAPP 52-5 / 
CAPP 60-63   
Individuals at squadron    Available to all who qualify    
CAP Honor Roll at USAF Academy     CAPR 39-3 Nationally, at USAFA Determined by USAFA


CAP Ribbons All Cadets Should Try to Earn

Award Name Ribbon Image     Requirement Reference Echelon
Cadet Recruiter Ribbon  Recruit 2 new cadets or seniors   CAPR 39-3     Squadron    
 Community Service Ribbon      Provide 60 hrs service outside CAP     CAPR 39-3 Squadron
Red Service Award Complete 2 years' service in CAP CAPR 39-3 Squadron


Awards for Individual Cadet Programs Officers (Adults) 

Award Name Reference Echelon
F. Ward Reilly Leadership Award CAPR 39-3   National 
John V. "Jack" Sorensen
Cadet Programs Officer of the Year Award    
CAPR 60-1   Group & above    


Awards for Cadet Units

Award Name Reference Units Eligible     Notes
Quality Cadet Unit Award CAPR 60-1     Squadrons Available to every squadron that qualifies; see QCUA home page  
Squadron of Merit Award CAPR 60-1 Squadrons Available to 1 squadron per wing, annually
Squadron of Distinction Award CAPR 60-1 Squadrons Available to 1 squadron per region, annually
A representative squadron from among the region winners is recognized nationally  
Cadet Programs Mission Award     CAPR 60-1 Wings Available to 1 wing per region, and 1 wing at national
American Legion Award
to Outstanding Squadrons    
CAPR 39-3 Squadrons  


Awards of Historical Interest

Award Name Image   Reference
Congressional Gold Medal
(WWII-era CAP members)     
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award     See news release     




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