While in town Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Don Young took time to make a special presentation to a local youth who has gone far above literally the call of duty.
Kenai's Naythen Hansen has only been a member of the Kenai Civil Air Patrol for two years, but in that time he's made a big impression.
As one of 26,000 CAP cadets nationwide, Hansen participates in a rigorous program that recognizes cadets for reaching certain achievements related to aerospace education, leadership, physical fitness, moral and ethical values and special activities.
At Wednesday's weekly meeting of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, Young presented the 15-year-old Kenai Central High School freshman with the Amelia Erhart Award in recognition of Hansen's completion of the first 11 achievements in the CAP program.
Presenting the award, Young said Hansen exemplifies the best of what Alaska's youth has to offer.
"(Naythen) is an example of why I love this great state. ... The young people of this state are outstanding," he said.
Following the award ceremony, Hansen said completing the steps required to earn the award was not easy and gave credit to his family for supporting him along the way.
"I couldn't have done it without my parents and grandparents," Hansen said.
Hansen said he had to complete a number of tests on both physical fitness and knowledge of aerospace, leadership and CAP staff duties.
"There was a lot of stuff to learn," he said.
Hansen's mother, Sherri, said she's proud of her son's accomplishments, noting that Naythen was the youngest-ever Alaskan to receive the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award which is one step below the Erhart award when he was 13.
She said she believes the CAP program has taught her son an incredible amount about leadership and the aerospace field since he entered the program, and that the program has benefited her son immensely.
"The cadets know more about airplanes and aeronautics than almost all other kids," she said.
Hansen said he's got his sights set pretty high when it comes to how far he wants to go in the aeronautics field.
"I'm hoping to get my pilot's license in a year or two," he said.
After that, Hansen said he plans to go into the Army, with the goal of becoming either a helicopter pilot or a pararescue jumper though at this point, the precocious 15-year-old still isn't sure which.
"I've still got some time," he said.
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