CAP Cadet History Project

The golden pip of C/WO (C/FO)

See grade insignia.



In 1964 CAP introduced an enduring cadet program that focused on four educational pillars: aerospace education, leadership laboratory, moral leadership, and physical fitness.  The program was divided into four phases of increasing responsibility.  Cadets had to complete achievements based on the four pillars and participate in activities to be promoted in grade.  While many changes have been made after 1998, this structure is still the backbone of the cadet program.

CAP formalized ES/SAR training and cadets were allowed full participation.


There was a manual explosion in this generation - too many to cover.  Reading suggestion: early manuals.


The table of organization for enlisted cadets to C/1st Lt was rescinded.  When cadets completed the achievement requirements they could be freely promoted to C/1st Lt.  Since grade was no longer based on their position/duty, cadet NCOs could wear the leadership shoulder insignia pictured on the right to indicate their position in the squadron.  Cadet officer promotions beyond C/1st Lt were restricted based on the position they held in their unit until 1975.  After 1975, cadet officers could be locally promoted  to C/Lt Col regardless of position.

The original Sorenson program called for the Mitchell exam to cover Moral Leadership and result in the grade of C/MSgt.  However, there was pushback from members and the new program was nearly tweaked to death from 1964-68.  Two former cadets from the earliest years report that the Mitchell resulted in C/1st Lt for an unknown period, and that the Mitchell covered Aerospace Education and Moral Leadership.  From 1968 to 1984 it resulted in promotion to C/Warrant Officer, C/Flight Officer from 1984 to 1998.

For the first time advancement in grade became a requirement for satisfactory membership in CAP.  Failure to progress could result in membership termination.


The blue cloth "point down" chevrons were worn until 1978.  CAP phased in metal chevrons and the one piece blue nameplate in 1978.

Cadets continued to wear the seasonal uniforms until the Air Force transitioned to all blue uniforms in the early 1970s.  OG-107 green fatigues were required for males in 1969, authorized for females in 1975.  BDUs were required in 1991.

Historical Highlights:

In 1975 the cadet age range was expanded to students in the 7th grade-21 years old.  In 1977, students who had completed the 6th grade could become cadets.

The Air Force increased the pay grade earned by the Mitchell Award from E-2 to E-3 in 1978.

Since this was the longest running version of the cadet program, many changes were made to uniforms, manuals, Special Activities, etc.

At the end of 1998, the cadet program had 15 achievements, with 3 milestone awards (Mitchell, Earhart, Spaatz).

Leadership shoulder insignia - see metal insignia for more information.

The highest possible NCO grade, 1957 to 1998.