Remembering Mr. John V. “Jack” Sorenson, Father of the Modern Cadet Program

Started by Cindi, February 14, 2012, 05:30:18 AM

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John V. "Jack" Sorenson (November 7, 1924- August 14, 1998)

John V. "Jack" Sorenson is considered by most to be the architect of the revised cadet programs in practice in the Civil Air Patrol since 1964. John Sorenson was an army air force veteran, having served in World War 2 as a second lieutenant. In 1987, Jack was inducted into the Civil Air Patrol Hall of Honor. Jack began his association with Civil Air Patrol as director of aerospace education with the CAP Pacific Region, culminated his 30 years of service in 1983 as the National Headquarters Deputy Chief of Staff for Aerospace Education. His contributions included the design of the current CAP Cadet Program, development of the CAP Aerospace Education Workshop Program, and creation of the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education.

• 1945 – Army Air Corps fighter pilot
• 1950 – Educator and football coach, Weber High School in Ogden, Utah
• 1954 – Director of Aerospace Education, Pacific Region
• 1962 – CAP Deputy Chief of Staff for Aerospace Education
• 1964 – Designed/implemented the Modern Day CAP Cadet Program
• Created the AE program for CAP Senior Members
• Founded the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education
• Guided formulation of The World Congress of Aerospace Education
• 1983 – Retired from CAP with 29 years of service
• 1987 – Inducted into CAP's National Hall of Honor

Jack - 1945:

Jack - 1971

Jack - 1987 at left being inducted into the CAP Hall of Honor:

Jack - circa 1990



7- 10 January 1971

By John V. Sorenson
Deputy Chief of Staff for Aerospace Education & Cadet Programs:

Cadets of the first Advanced Cadet leadership Symposium, my task is to charge or assign you your responsibilities for this symposium. You have been welcomed by General duPont, Chairman of the Board and a former CAP cadet, given the ground rules by Captain Dempsey and heard cadet program history and hopes from Colonel Hayes, the Symposium Director.

Sitting here and realizing what you stand for brings to mind the memories and faces of two dear friends now departed from this realm, by name Gill Robb Wilson and Charles W. Webb. Both have made great contributions to Civil Air Patrol and this nation. Gill Robb, probably the most talented man with words as I have ever met and the founder of Civil Air Patrol, would have assigned you a very specific mission, one of great importance, and he would have said it through one of the poems that he had written for his Airman's World, one of three books he authored. I will use a poem from this book as a part of the charge. The following verses prescribe the pattern of your future acts as he would have insisted if you're to support the cause of Civil Air Patrol through this symposium, a cause that Gill Robb Wilson lived and died for.

So long as this is a free man's world
somebody has to lead;

Somebody has to carry the ball in word
and thought and deed;

Somebody's got to knock on doors which
never have known a key;

Somebody's got to see the things that
the throng would never see.

Hotter than thrust when the boost is hit,
somebody's faith must burn;

And faster than mach when the rocket's lit,
somebody's mind must turn;

Somebody's got to get the proof for what
the designers plan;

And test the dreams that the prophets dream
in behalf of their fellow man

Somebody's got to think of pay in terms
that are more than gold;

And somebody has to spend himself to buy
what the heavens hold;

Somebody's got to leave the crowd and walk
with his fears alone;

Somebody's got to accept the thorns and
weave for himself a crown.

It's ever thus as the ages roll and the
record's written clear–

Somebody has to give himself as the
price of each frontier;

Somebody has to take a cross and climb
to a rendezvous

Where a lonesome man with a will to lead
can make the truth shine through.

Charley Webb, on the other hand, not so eloquent in words as Gill Robb Wilson but totally dedicated to education and young people would have smiled and beamed all over had he had the chance to be here this evening. There is one particular piece of poetry that he felt particularly strong about written by Maltbie Davenport Babcock. It was entitled "Be Strong," and it goes this way.



We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle – face it; 'tis God's gift.


Say not, "The days are evil. Who's to blame?"
And fold the hands and acquiesce – oh, shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.


It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not – fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

Charlie Webb was a giant in this program and was the reason for our direction tonight. Oh, that he were here —

To be more specific, we did not bring you here to have you change the program. There is a five-year moratorium on cadet program change, and it was General Ellis's and General duPont's express wishes that you dwell upon how you would implement the program rather than try to invent another one. So this is your first task — to implement the one we have.

I don't know whether you understand the price that has been paid for Civil Air Patrol up to this point. You have as your leader in the Chairman of the Board, a former cadet, a brilliant young man, a person who has, as Gill Robb said, woven himself a crown with patience and forbearance far beyond his years would allow. Some day Hal's story of having to wait, that most transient quality of youth, and having to "eat crow" at the same time just to remain with the program will be told. When this happens, you'll appreciate more the Chairman and what he stands for.

What sort of a price are you willing to pay for CAP in and through this symposium? Can you make the truth shine through? Have you got the guts to come here and be reflective, subordinate yourself to the good of the group and this symposium and objectively tackle the tasks assigned you on techniques for implementing the program? This cannot be done by fools, by egotists nor by weaklings. We know you are intelligent, that much we can prove. We know that you have egos but are capable of controlling them. As to your being weaklings, we simply as that you be strong.



(This article, written by John V. "Jack" Sorenson, then the Deputy Chief of Staff for Aerospace Education & Training at Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters, was published in the April/May 1972 issue of the journal Education.)

Deputy Chief of Staff, Civil Air Patrol, Aerospace Education and Training

" ... With a society built on a dynamic technology, the leaders of education dare not lag behind."

The quotation above is as vital today as it was 15 years ago. The United States does not have, nor has it ever had, a monopoly on aerospace technology. Today, as never before, it MUST remain competitive. Its survival as a first rate power, and possibly even the survival of the free world, may depend upon how well the American people understand that unchallengeable aerospace power is essential if the United States is to maintain the position of world leadership it has enjoyed since World War II. It may also depend upon whether or not they understand that foreign powers are striving to exceed us, not merely in the obvious defensive and offensive military aerospace fields, but also in the subtler, but equally competitive, economic arena.

In a democracy, basic decisions are made by the will of the majority of the people, expressed through their elected senators and representatives. Whether or not the United States will continue to be a first rate aerospace power, with the might to deter any potential aggressor, will therefore be decided ultimately by the voting public. How intelligently or stupidly they decide will be the result, in part, of the degree to which they have been exposed to aerospace education, and the degree to which this education affects the soundness of their judgment.

It is the province of aerospace education to inform the American public. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) received a mandate from Congress in 1946 to, among other things, inform the general public about aviation (now termed aerospace) and its impacts, provide ground and pre-flight aviation education and training to its cadets and senior members, encourage the establishment of flying clubs for its membership, provide flight scholarships to selected cadets, and encourage model airplane building and flying.

In 1946, we were living in the "air age," but in 1957 and 1958 Sputnik I and Explorer I brought the air age to an end, and a different adjective appropriate to all flight activities in the atmosphere and in space was needed. "Aerospace" came to be accepted as the most suitable, and we are now living in the "aerospace age."

Concurrently, a new term was needed to describe those non-technical knowledges necessary to allow the average citizen to comprehend and keep abreast of new vehicular and technological developments for both air and space travel; hence, aerospace education.

Aerospace education is a branch of general education concerned with communicating knowledge, imparting skills, and developing attitudes necessary to interpret aerospace activities and the total impact of air and space vehicles upon society. Among its aims is the basic one of giving the public--particularly the voting public--a layman's understanding of how past aviation and present aerospace developments have changed the course of human affairs through social, economic, political, and military implications.

Since 1946, then, CAP has assumed a leadership role in promoting air age, and now aerospace, education. As formally stated, CAP's mission is: " ... to voluntarily use its resources to meet emergencies, to encourage aerospace education of the general public, and to motivate young men and women to ideals of leadership and service through aerospace education and training."
This mission statement spells out the two channels--"external" and "internal" --through which CAP promotes aerospace education. Encouraging aerospace education of the general public falls in the "external" category. Motivating young men and women to ideals of leadership and service through aerospace education and training is in both the external and internal categories for reasons that will become clear.

The Internal Program
The internal aerospace education effort is conducted mainly through the CAP Modified Cadet Program. When the young cadet, ideally about age 13, enters the program, he (or she) begins to study the first of seven aerospace education textbooks which will carry him through a well rounded, self-study aerospace education course. As the cadet completes each successive textbook--along with four other required cadet accomplishments--he progresses to a new achievement. To progress, the cadet must not only master the aerospace education text; he must also participate satisfactorily in an activities program including a drill team or honor guard; a leadership program designed to teach military customs and courtesies; a physical fitness regimen based upon the famed "Aerobics" text; and a moral leadership program, presided over by a chaplain but conducted by the cadets, under which the cadets confront and discuss fundamental moral issues.

The aerospace education textbooks and the achievements of which they are a major part are:


Introduction to Aerospace
Challenge of Aerospace Power
Aircraft in Flight
Power for Aircraft
Navigation and the Weather
Airports and Airways
The Dawning Space Age

Until the Modified Cadet Program went into effect on Jan. 1, 1971, cadets studied the textbooks in cadet squadron meetings under the guidance of an instructor. The instructor used the correlated "instructor guide" for each text, and the cadet students used the correlated "student workbook." This classroom atmosphere gave way under the Modified Cadet Program to a self-study program which allows each cadet to progress at his own pace. The individual cadet receives the textbook and the student workbook. The workbook contains behavioral objectives defining concretely what the student should be able to do when his study is complete. Available to help the cadets are aerospace education counselors. Counseling is done on an as needed basis and at the mutually arranged convenience of the counselor and the cadet. When the cadet is ready, the "oral debriefer" informally discusses randomly selected objectives with him to determine if he has reasonably mastered the material. The debriefer mayor may not be an aerospace education counselor, but both he and the counselor should be--or become--expert in the text materials. For these two important tasks, CAP seeks to recruit members of the local community, particularly former members of the armed forces and reserve officers, or interested citizens who wish to contribute their time and talent. It is the debriefer who certifies--by signing the cadet's achievement contract--that the cadet has satisfactorily completed the aerospace education requirement.

When the cadet completes the seventh achievement, he must take a comprehensive aerospace education examination, controlled from National Headquarters. If he passes, and has completed all other requirements, including an encampment, he has finished Phase II, (the learning phase) and he receives the Mitchell Award which makes him eligible to apply for CAP scholarships and a variety of cadet special activities, including the ever-popular international air cadet exchange, and the opportunity to become solo qualified and to obtain a private pilot's certificate.

Aerospace education continues to be part of the cadet's life throughout Phase III (the leadership phase) and Phase IV (the executive phase). In Phases III and IV he keeps up with aerospace current events, and he may serve as aerospace education counselor to the younger cadets.

Many cadets aspire to U. S. Air Force careers. As members of the official U. S. Air Force Auxiliary, cadets have certain advantages in attaining this ambition. For instance, the U. S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School reserves three spaces each year for qualified cadets who wish to become Air Force officers by attending the Academy. Also, the U. S. Air Force Officers' Candidate School reserves three spaces each year for cadets who have already graduated from college and wish to enter the Air Force.

Many cadets also aspire to careers in other aerospace fields. CAP annually selects approximately 60 cadets, from among more than 200 applicants, to receive college scholarships worth $40,000. One of CAP's long-range goals is to expand the scholarship program to a million dollars annually.

The External Program
CAP's external aerospace education program is based upon the internal program to the extent that the seven textbooks with their instructor guides and student workbooks form the basis for aerospace education high school elective courses.

CAP makes known the availability of its course in a variety of ways, including an Aerospace Education Course Syllabus describing the seven textbooks, and through an elaborate organization. In its eight region headquarters, CAP is represented by a Region Director of Aerospace Education whose job it is to coordinate high school and college level aerospace education courses with the educational community. Further, each state is a CAP wing, and each wing has a Director of Aerospace Education. He and the wing commander are, among other things, charged with the responsibility to contact state superintendents of education annually and to render all possible assistance either to establish statewide, state-endorsed aerospace education courses, or to revitalize existing ones.

There are three types of high school programs. Each type includes a regularly scheduled aerospace education elective in the high school curriculum. The elective may include cadet and non-cadet students:

TYPE A: The Coordinated CAP-High School Elective. This phase of CAP's external aerospace education actually began in 1948 and 1949 with the publication of an aviation study manual and instructorÂ's manual. At that time, it was felt that one of the best things CAP could do was to work toward the goal of having cadets taught in high schools through elective courses. The elective is now based upon the seven textbooks, and is independent of the full CAP cadet program.

TYPE B: CAP Squadron - High School Associated Program. This is the same as the Type A program except that the cadet members of the aerospace education elective class are also members of a local CAP cadet squadron. Cadets participate in the regular squadron program except that the aerospace education requirement is satisfied by the high school course. The cadets must still pass the nationally controlled aerospace education test to attain the Mitchell Award, but the high school teacher may administer it.

TYPE C: High School Squadron. Instruction in aerospace education is conducted in regularly scheduled classes. The other elements of the cadet program are conducted in extra-class time according to schedules approved by school officials. School personnel are in charge of the complete program. Except for the classroom-taught aerospace education course, the cadet program is the same as that for any cadet squadron.

Schools may purchase, or require the student to purchase, the "High School Aerospace Education Text and Workbook Package" containing the seven texts and workbooks from the Education Materials Center, National Headquarters, CAPUSAF, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama 36112. It is not necessary for the teacher to conduct the elective in the sequence outlined in the Syllabus. Further, the aerospace education course can be taught on an individualized instruction basis during normal class time if the teacher and the school administration wish. The units are "programmed" in the ordinary sense popularly associated with individualized instruction, but the objectives for each lesson are defined in a similarly detailed manner. The close correlation of the lesson objectives, the workbook exercises, the textbooks, and the examination make self instruction quite easy. The self-study approach has been very successfully used by well-motivated CAP cadets, and it has led them to the highest positions in the CAP cadet structure.

In the classroom situation, the instructor can initiate individualized instruction by stocking a materials resource center with learning packages containing the texts the workbook, the color slide series (also available), and the instructor guide. The latter might be included for the student because it includes black and white reproductions and discussions of the slides which in many cases may be useful. The teacher might include other selected projects in the package, or the student may choose special ones in the initial counseling sessions. There are many sources, and the instructor may adjust the resource packages according to the type of high school aerospace course he is presenting.

For the complete self-study course, as structured in the Aerospace Education Course Syllabus, all CAP materials should be used, supplemented as suggested above. This method of instruction requires the instructor to take more time to prepare and plan, but it is highly recommended so that each student can progress at a pace dictated by his motivation and/or abilities, and so that individual interests can be pursued more fully.

Many states are just beginning to sponsor aerospace education courses on a statewide basis. Other states have well-established policies. Probably no two states will use exactly the same methods. How particular states and particular schools go about planning for the inclusion of aerospace education in their curricula is a decision that must be reached jointly by local school authorities and local community interests. In one state, for instance, the state school superintendent decided to recommend aerospace education as a separate and distinct course of study. In another state, the state superintendent began with the premise that aerospace education is not an isolated discipline, and decided to emphasize aerospace topics at appropriate places in all subject fields at all grade levels from kindergarten through high school. CAP's resources are available to all states.

Teacher Preparation
The offering of an aerospace education course, or aerospace enrichment, implies a qualified teacher. Since the "air age projects" of 1951, CAP has taken a leading role in teacher preparation. It has done this in part by seeking to assist educational institutions to sponsor aerospace education projects, particularly the popular workshop. Many thousands of teachers have graduated from these workshops and other types of projects conducted by colleges and universities throughout the country. Most workshops offer graduate credit or credit toward 'teacher certification. One of the most interesting aspects of the workshop is the field trip to major air terminals, aerospace industries, military installations, and, for particularly fortunate groups, to Cape Kennedy to witness the launching of APOLLO space flights.

Becoming more and more popular is the international aerospace education workshop sponsored by various educational institutions, and in many cases cosponsored by CAP. These international ventures tour European or Asian capitals, and usually offer around-the-world options. Also on the international level, U.S. teachers and students stationed abroad are not forgotten. In February of 1970, a team of four experts, three from CAP and one from the Federal Aviation Administration, conducted a series of seminars for Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, and the Philippines. They spoke to over 2,000 teachers and 4,000 students in classrooms or assemblies, and held 32 meetings with educational officials.

Before the advent of present-day aerospace accomplishments, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education became interested in, and took steps toward, defining the objectives of what was then "aviation education." In 1949, AACTE's Aviation Education Committee published a report containing 14 points, or objectives, for teachers, and, by extension, for students. These 14 points still apply today, with minor changes. They are listed below, with new terminology in parenthesis after the original:

1. An adequate reading and speaking vocabulary of aviation (aerospace terminology);
2. Knowledge of the importance of weather and climate to successful aviation;
3. A general knowledge and understanding of airplane (aircraft, aerospace craft, and spacecraft) structure;
4. A general knowledge and understanding of simple scientific principles of flight. ;
5. An understanding of the place of aviation (aerospace activities) in peace and war;
6. An understanding of the effects of air (aerospace) transportation on various levels of international relationships;
7. An introduction to the social, economic, and political implications of current and future development;
8. An appreciation of the services rendered by airports and their associated personnel;
9. Familiarity with existing and needed basic governmental services, regulations and relationships in aviation (aerospace activities);
10. A knowledge of available aviation (aerospace) education resources in materials, personnel, and equipment for instructional purposes;
11. The know-how for organizing units of education and providing resulting learning experiences for children through aviation (aerospace studies);
12. A realization of the growing interdependence of people through aviation (aerospace developments);
13. An understanding of problems, political economic, international, and social, that aviation has (aerospace developments have) created, and the institutions society has established to solve these problems;
14. A realization of how the airplane has (aerospace craft have) changed geographic relationships, particularly in terms of mankind's concepts of time, place, and distance, and mankind's attitudes toward waterways, land masses, and land and water barriers.

Except for Items 10 and 11 which pertain specifically to educators, these 14 points constitute worthwhile objectives for any aerospace-minded citizen.
A detailed planning guide for aerospace education projects is available, free, from CAP. It, and other documents, outline the various services available from CAP educational institutions. Some of these services are:

1. Professional consultation to help develop an aerospace education curriculum.
2. Guidance in administering aerospace education programs.
3. Assistance required to identify, appraise, secure, and use aerospace education resources.
4. Recommendations for selection or recruiting aerospace education teaching personnel.
5. Assistance required to:
     a. Obtain the services of Air Force ROTC professors of air science and Air Force Reserve officers as special consultants.
     b. Select aerospace education textbooks, workbooks, instructor guides, films, filmstrips, recordings, and programmed teaching aids.
     c. Arrange orientation flights in military and civil aircraft.
     d. Arrange course-related field trips.
     e. Obtain the services of outstanding speakers as guest lecturers and the services of teams of experts to explain special air and space projects and programs.

National Congress on Aerospace Education
For the past fifteen years, CAP has joined with other organizations in a significant national conclave devoted exclusively to aerospace education. In 1970, the present name was adopted, and a four-man steering committee representing the four major participating national organizations came into being to formulate future plans. The committee:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - Dr. Frederick Tuttle
Federal Aviation Administration - Dr. Mervin K. Strickler, Jr.
National Aerospace Education Council - Mr. Walter Zaharevitz
Civil Air Patrol - Mr. John V. Sorenson

The following have also taken major roles in the Congress: The Aerospace Education Foundation, an affiliate of the Air Force Association; the Air Force Junior ROTC; the Aviation Distributors and Manufacturers' Association; the Aerospace Industries Association; General Aviation Manufacturers' Association; The Boeing Company; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Cessna Aircraft Company; many commercial airlines; and numerous other professional, commercial, and amateur organizations. To include all would be impossible, to exclude any is inexcusable, but the author begs the indulgence of those not mentioned because of lack of space.

The Congress seeks to promote the "cooperation of all organizations concept" in the mutual and vital national tasks inherent in the aims of aerospace education. The success or failure of these aims may in the long run determine whether or not any foreign power will confront an unprepared American public with what the Defense Department's Dr. John B. Foster recently warned could be come unpleasant technological surprises, or whether the American public will not only be prepared for foreign "breakthroughs" but also continue to devote the requisite talent and resources to the research and development effort which will keep the United States ahead, or at least abreast, of any potential aerospace challenger.

Education; Apr/May72, Vol. 92 Issue 4, p5, 7p


I must say, the Cadets did need to do so much more to steadily progress through the "old, new Cadet Program"!!