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C/Col James Barrow earns Spaatz Award

Cadet Barrow receives Spaatz Award
C/Col James Barrow (center) is presented with his Spaatz Award at the 2017 MER-VAWG Conference by Col Larry J. Ragland, CAP National Executive Officer (left). PHOTO CREDIT: MER-VAWG Conference PAO staff. (click image to view full size)
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Raleigh-Wake Cadet Earns Spaatz Award on First Attempt

4/30/2017––Cadet Colonel James Barrow of the Raleigh-Wake Composite Squadron did something very few cadets are able to do when he earned his General Carl Andrew Spaatz award. He earned it on his first attempt! General Carl A. Spaatz was the First Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force and first Chairman of the CAP National Board.

C/Col Barrow isn’t the first one in his family to earn his Spaatz award, he is the fourth one. He also isn’t the first one to earn it on the first attempt in his family either. All four Barrow siblings earned their Spaatz Awards on the first attempt. C/Col Barrow is continuing a family tradition!
Earning the Spaatz Award is a hard-enough achievement to earn. A cadet earning it on the first attempt is not expected. It is hoped for by the cadet, his fellow cadets and the senior member mentors but most realize that it is also unheard of. So, what does it take to pass the Spaatz on the first attempt? How does it feel to not only accomplish such a rare feat and to be the fourth person in your family to do so?
C/Col Barrow is not an ordinary person. You realize that when you begin to know him. Just by watching him and his actions, what he does not only for himself, but for his fellow cadets and Civil Air Patrol members you can tell that he is a very special person. It also isn’t surprising to see him doing everything he can to assist other CAP members.
When asked about how he felt when taking his Spaatz test, C/Col Barrow stated that he felt confident that he could pass it on his first attempt. He also understood that it was not a guarantee that he would be able to pass all four sections on his first attempt. It would take his best effort to do it. He believes that a healthy dose of confidence, without being overly confident, is very important in taking any test. Cadet Barrow also knew that it would require him to really apply himself.
Over the years, he collected several CAP study guides. Some of these guides were written by him, others were handed down to him by his family and some study guides were created by other cadets. C/Col Barrow stated that studying these guides, especially during the two weeks before his exam, was the primary way he prepared himself.   
There is no denying how important support from family is. C/Col Barrow stated that the support and encouragement he received from his mother had a significant impact on his success. She wasn’t the only one who supported him. His three siblings, each one earning their Spaatz Award on their first attempt, also provided him with support and encouragement. Philip earned his in 2006, Olivia in 2008 and Peter in 2012. All three were members of the Apex Cadet Squadron. As he received his award on 8 April 2017, his whole family was very excited and proud of him. 
When asked what the hardest part of preparing for the Spaatz exam was, C/Col Barrow stated that putting aside distractions and focusing on reviewing the CAP materials was not easy. He had to make studying a priority and set deadlines that he forced himself to meet. Especially since he wanted to pass the Spaatz exam before he graduated from NC State this May. Cadet Barrow is studying Business Administration at NC State, with a minor in accounting. He plans to work at Deloitte Consulting in Washington, D.C. after graduation.
Asked what advice he would share with other cadets, C/Col Barrow stated, “In order to make earning your Spaatz (or any major achievement) a reality, you must understand the steps to reach that goal in concrete terms. Map out on a calendar the minimal time it would take for you to reach Cadet Colonel from your current grade. Then break it down into parts – how long before cadet second lieutenant? Cadet captain? Once you are thinking in tangible terms of the number of months to reach your goal, the need to work on achieving your goal right now becomes real.  As the French writer and pioneer aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery stated, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” 

Cadet Barrow also stated, “My answer to this question would not be complete without a shameless plug about my new book titled No time to Lose! A Guide to Accounting for Time.  It is a book written for busy people, especially students.” It lays out his playbook for how to succeed in school and manage your other pursuits at the same time. This book is available at

As CAP members, we hope to inspire, mentor and lead cadets to become great leaders. Cadet Barrow is an example of a cadet who exemplifies leadership and inspires not only cadets but also senior members to be the best that they can be. We are proud of who he is and has become - a person who sets goals and lives by example for others to follow. You do control your own destiny to a degree. One important way of doing this is by setting goals and striving to achieve them.

C/Col Barrow has done this. Even now in the Raleigh-Wake Composite Squadron, he sets the example for other cadets to follow. He doesn’t have to be in charge to lead. He assists where he is needed regardless of what the job is or who is in charge. He gives advice when asked and shares what he has learned in CAP and life. The cadet staff is so proud of everything C/Col Barrow has accomplished and how he continues to assist and help his fellow cadets. He is an inspiration and a wonderful example for other cadets to follow.  

It is a great accomplishment to earn the Spaatz Award for a cadet. Earning the Spaatz on your first attempt in an accomplishment to be proud of. Finding out that he is the fourth person in his family to not only earn the Spaatz but to earn it on their first attempt is amazing.

It is also a reminder to us all of why we are here in CAP working with our youth. They are our future leaders.