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Cadets Earn Special AE Stem Badges

On December 6, 2021, three cadets from Deer Valley Composite Squadron received unique AE STEM badges.

“In June 2021, we launched a challenge for cadets in Arizona Wing to complete the task of earning a STEM badge,” said Maj. Ron Marks, Arizona Wing director of aerospace education. “Their reward would be a STEM badge that flew in outer space on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience Inspiration4 mission in September 2021.”

Maj. (Dr.) Sian Proctor, CAP, an aerospace education officer and member of the Sky Harbor Composite Squadron in Phoenix, served as mission pilot for the three-day flight. She was allowed to take some personal items on the flight and chose to include some Arizona Wing patches, 10 AE STEM badges, and other CAP items. After the flight, Proctor met with Marks to sign documents authenticating that the items flew on the Inspiration4 mission.

Cadet 2nd Lt. Gavin Meelhuysen, Cadet Airman 1st Class Logan Pelke, and Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Christabel Reinke received their STEM badges from Marks during a squadron meeting.

“The way to earn it is to do extracurricular work, beyond what you do to get promoted,” Marks explained to the cadets. “It starts with 12 hours of study, which could be reading or watching videos, for example. Then you also write a career dossier. You pick from about 140 topics, such as weather, maintenance, being a pilot or an astronaut.

“When we have these STEM badge challenges, you do the work within the prescribed time and send it to my office. We review it and if you complete the requirements, you earn the badge.”

Six Arizona Wing cadets earned their STEM badges during the summer challenge. In addition to the three from Deer Valley squadron, Cadet Staff Sgt. TJ Hess from Show Low Composite Squadron, and Cadet Master Sgt. Brodie Hendrick and Cadet 1st Lt. Colton Quackenbush, both from Davis-Monthan Composite Squadron also completed the requirements.

Subsequently, Cadet 2nd Lt. Caleb Miller of Deer Valley Composite Squadron qualified to receive one of the unique AE STEM badges, which was presented to him on December 20. According to Marks, “the next three cadets to complete the requirements and send their documents to me for review will get the remaining badges that were flown in space.”

Following the AE STEM badge presentation, Marks presented two more items that flew on the Inspiration4 mission: a Deer Valley Composite Squadron patch to Squadron Commander Capt. Nic Fuqua and an Arizona Wing patch to Lt. Col. Gordon Helm and Maj. Margot Myers.

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