Civil Air Patrol cadet gets Air Force Academy appointment

From Staff Reports
Elizabeth Rainwater, a senior at Van Buren High School, will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Fort Smith Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol is proud to announce that Cadet Elizabeth Rainwater will be leaving this summer to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She is the daughter of Dale and Tiffany Rainwater of Van Buren.

Rainwater is currently a senior at Van Buren High School. She has been active in the Civil Air Patrol since November 2018.

She is the second cadet in the past four years with the local Civil Air Patrol to be accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy. She joins USAFA Cadet Joseph Wittig of Fort Smith, who is currently completing his junior year. Approximately 10% of all cadets at the USAFA come from the Civil Air Patrol.

“We are extremely happy for Elizabeth to get this exciting chance to show the Air Force everything she has shown us in the last 2½ years. The Air Force will be getting an outstanding officer in Elizabeth,” said Capt. Janice Podgurski, the local Civil Air Patrol commander.

Rainwater credits part of her success in getting into the Air Force Academy to the Civil Air Patrol. 

“Getting into the Air Force Academy has been a long process, but I had a lot of help along the way," Rainwater said in a news release. "My parents have been great to take off work to take me to doctor’s appointments and interviews. My friends and church family have also helped me a lot through prayers and encouragement. Civil Air Patrol has exposed me to drill, military uniforms and Air Forces values. Because of CAP, I have had the opportunity to fly, meet several USAFA graduates and current members of the Air Force, and hear their stories about military life. As someone who is not from a military family, the experience and connections I have gained in CAP as a cadet have made the application process much easier and much less stressful."

Podgurski noted that not every cadet will go to a service academy.

"Some of our cadets will join the military and others will go on to be leaders in their chosen career fields. Some cadets will go to colleges around the country and others might chose to stay close to home in public safety careers," she said. "The option is up to the cadet and their family on what they choose to do with their CAP experiences. Our mission is to give young people the tools they need to grow in those choices.”

Rainwater's mother added, “They say it takes a village, but CAP is the real deal in helping parents shape kids into good citizens. CAP has been a springboard for my daughter getting into an elite college. CAP has exposed her to amazing leaders, great STEM opportunities, and given her opportunities to hone her leadership skills that have made her more confident.”

The Fort Smith Composite Squadron Ridge Runners meets at 5412 Airport Blvd. on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. They are currently accepting new members: cadets age 12 and up, adult and senior members. Current CAP COVID-19 restrictions require a face mask, but do not require an appointment to attend a meeting. Interested individuals should call (479) 285-1482 or email gpodgurski@cap.gov.