2 elite St. George cadets attend Four Star Leadership in Oklahoma

Junior ROTC cadets during a flag ceremony at the second annual Veterans Day 5K and Fun Run, Ivins, Utah, Nov. 7, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Col. Glenn Whicker, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two top achieving cadets from St. George were selected to join 65 other elite applicants worldwide to attend the Four Star Leadership program in Hobart, Oklahoma. The 5-day program began Monday.

Air Force junior ROTC cadets Cole Cutner and Jack Wright, both seniors from Dixie High School, were chosen along with 65 other cadets from units all over the world for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The U.S. Air Force estimates there are 120,000 cadets participating in 870 programs worldwide.

Four Star Leadership is a world-class summer leadership program that allows up to 70 of the top high school students in the world to meet face to face with national and international leaders. Cadets are also offered a chance to earn more than $15,000 in scholarships.

Cadets Cutner and Wright flew to Oklahoma over the weekend to participate in the program, said retired Col. Glenn R. Whicker, who oversees the junior ROTC program for all cadets in the Washington County School District.

Air Force junior ROTC cadet Cole Cutner, invited to participate in Four Star Leadership in Hobart, Okla. July 2016| Photo courtesy of Col. Glen Whicker, St. George News
Air Force junior ROTC cadet Cole Cutner is attending the Four Star Leadership program in Hobart, Oklahoma, July 2016| Photo courtesy of Col. Glen Whicker, St. George News

Students were selected based on demonstrated leadership abilities and outstanding character, Air Force junior ROTC Senior Master Sgt. Gerald A. “Doc” Thomas said.

Once accepted, all expenses – including airfare, lodging, classes and meals – are paid through Four Star Leadership and its sponsors, Whicker said.

Cadet Cole Cutner

Air Force junior ROTC Cadet Cole Cutner has demonstrated his leadership capabilities as the Armed Team Drill Commander, Color Guard Events Commander and 4-Man Armed Exhibition Team Commander.

Cutner’s accomplishments are extensive.

Cutner is the only Dixie High School junior ROTC cadet to be awarded during the U.S. Marine Corps Devil Pups encampment. He earned the Air Force Association Medal and Distinguished Cadet Badge.

The cadet flew a Cessna 172 last December during a solo flight and gave an impressive performance during the National Drill Commanders’ Camp in Dallas, Texas, last summer.

Cadet Jack Wright

Air Force junior ROTC Cadet Jack Wright is the Assistant Armed Team Drill Commander and one of the 4-Man Armed Exhibition Team Commanders.

Air Force junior ROTC cadet Jack Wright, top performer attending Four Star Leader in Hobart, Okla. July 10, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Doc Thomas, St. George News
Air Force junior ROTC cadet Jack Wright is attending the Four Star Leadership program in Hobart, Oklahoma, July 10, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Air Force junior ROTC Senior Master Sgt. Gerald A. “Doc” Thomas, St. George News

Wright has an unprecedented drill team record.

Wright earned the Reserve Officer Association Medal this year and won a flight scholarship after performing a solo flight in Civil Air Patrol’s new Cessna 172 in March.

Wright  is also the “go-to” man and expert in all facets of drill, demonstrated by the earned drill awards he received at every meet since he joined the drill team his freshman year.

In addition to attending the National Drill Commanders’ Camp in Dallas last summer, Wright was also a Devil Pups member, Thomas said.

Both Cutner and Wright were also members of Dixie’s Stellar Explorers team, finishing in the top 10 worldwide at a competition in Colorado in 2015.

Both cadets also completed the pilot ground school program, passed the Federal Aviation Administration’s written test and earned their student pilot licenses this year as well, Whicker said.

“These two young leaders embody the Air Force’s core values of ‘integrity first,’ ‘service before self’ and ‘excellence in all we do,'” Thomas said.

Four Star Leadership

Drill Meet, Dixie Wings Air Force junior ROTC Cadets, Bullhead City Ariz., Feb. 6, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Col. Glenn Whicker, St. George News
Drill Meet, Dixie Wings Air Force junior ROTC Cadets, Bullhead City, Arizona, Feb. 6, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Col. Glenn Whicker, St. George News

The program was developed as a partnership between the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum and Oklahoma Christian University, with a curriculum built around the four core principles of the program:

  • Character
  • Common Vision
  • Communication
  • Caring

“These cadets will gain information and tools that have real-world applications and will be a positive force for them among the turmoil of recent events,” Whicker said.

To be eligible for the program, cadets must submit an application, which includes their academic and sports records, achievements and awards, leadership positions held, three letters of recommendations and a short essay.

The program includes team-building exercises, spontaneous problem solving and exploring critical national and international issues such as educational reform, foreign policy and entitlement spending.

Many factors contribute to success, and the Air Force junior ROTC program’s remarkable achievements are the result of implementing those factors into the program.

When asked which factors influence success with these youths, Whicker, who has spent over a decade mentoring these future leaders, summarized it as follows:

These kids have parents who are right there, who sacrifice and support them. That one element is most important for these youths. Other determining factors that explain why this community raises so many successful kids is the prevalent religious influence and a strong Scouting program that nurtures many of the same ideals as our program. But most important of all is the importance placed on having a strong family unit. I’ve seen kids from every socioeconomic background, in all walks of life, and nothing contributes more to their success than a supportive, stable home life.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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