Lt Col Cheri Jennings Memorial Scholarship
Lt Col Cheri Jennings was a selfless CAP member who was very devoted to the Cadet Program. When she first joined CAP in 2004, she chose a squadron because it was on the verge of being closed, led by a 16-year-old Cadet Captain who was single handedly holding together a handful of Cadets with no Senior Member supervision. That Cadet inspired her to serve and, in particular, to focus on the development and success of Cadets. She overruled her then 13-year-old son, who wanted to join a different squadron nearby that was larger and more successful. She inspired him too, because today he's a Captain and commands that (now wildly successful) squadron they joined almost 20 years ago.
She passed away on 11 January 2022 after a seven-month battle with Acute AML Leukemia.
She gave of herself tirelessly in her long years of service, and her efforts in support of the success of Cadets were of particular importance to her. She staffed and supported multiple encampments, NCSAs and flight academies. Over the years, she individually mentored dozens of Cadets, helping them to stay on track and successful in their ambitions, inside and outside of CAP. She treasured a letter she received from a former Cadet in her first squadron -- a testimonial of how important her influence had been to him in his career and education. He had a troubled background before and during his time as a Cadet, and wrote the letter to her on the eve of receiving his Doctorate degree. That letter was framed and hung proudly in her office, always reminding her of the importance of individual attention to every Cadet in her orbit.
Lt Col Cheri Jennings epitomized CAP's core values of Excellence, Integrity, Respect and Volunteer Service. She often chose roles in the background like Logistics, Safety and Finance. She knew these non-glamorous assignments were crucial to the success of day-to-day operation, missions, and activities. She never sought the limelight or expected recognition. Lt Col Jennings never put herself in the limelight, and was passionately devoted to "mission support", whether that meant driving a van load of Cadets 8+ hours to Basic Encampment, coordinating the logistics and scheduling volunteer response to four major hurricanes (Katrina and Rita, 2005; Sandy, 2012; and Harvey, 2017) and COVID-19 response in 2020, or serving as Mission Safety Officer for countless Emergency Services missions and a National Flight Academy. In 2015, she was recognized by the CAP-USAF Northeast Liaison Region commander as the exceptional staff member during the 2015 NJ Wing Ops-Eval. She wasn't present to be recognized because she had left the Incident Command Post to respond to a bodily injury mishap at the flight line.
Her 17 years of outstanding service and dedication were recognized with two Exceptional Service Awards, three Meritorious Service Awards and numerous Commander's Commendations and Achievement Awards. She held master specialty track ratings in Cadet Programs, Command, and Logistics. She was especially proud of completing National Safety Officer College and receiving her master rating in Safety in 2020. She continued serving and learning during her treatment for Leukemia, completing Level V and earning Gill Robb Wilson Award number 3954 in August of 2021.
Lt Col Cheri Jennings was the epitome of a Texas-tough woman -- loud and proud, ready for any challenge that came her way, and filling every room she entered with her energy and passion. CAP was a family affair for her, she was the beloved husband of Lt Col Robert Jennings, daughter of Lt Col Janet (Sue) Kristoffersen, mother of Capt Michael Moody, stepmother to 1st Lt Paul Jennings and 1st Lt Nicholas Jennings. She was also survived by her brother John Kristoffersen, his wife Rhonda, daughters-in-law Tawni, Shelby and Erin, and granddaughter Charlotte. She touched countless lives, in and out of Civil Air Patrol, and will be missed greatly.