Using the Six Guiding Principles (Aim High, Believe in Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready to Go, Never Quit, Expect to Win) our winners describe how the Tuskegee Airmen and WASP achieved success, then choose a goal to show how they could use the Six Guiding Principles to achieve that goal.


1st place:  MA-Flight backpack 

2nd place: Mustang model kit of the P-51C “Tuskegee Airmen”

3rd place: Choice of aviator wings: Tuskegee Airmen or WASP

All entries will receive a Rise Above dog tag and Triumph Over Adversity booklet.


Xavier Richardson

8th Grade

1st place

Triumphed in the Sky and Over the Color Barrier

I will never forget a Sunny Sunday afternoon in October, 2023. A P-51C Mustang plane landed at Quincy, Illinois, my hometown. It wasn’t just an ordinary plane. It was one of the Tuskegee Airmen’s signature aircraft used in their many successful missions in Europe during WWII. This time, the flight was on a different mission—namely, to keep the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen alive.

As an eighth grader in Quincy Junior High, the focus of our history class this semester has been modern American history which includes WWII. My firsthand encounter with the P-51 Mustang created a personal connection to these heroes of the sky. Since then, I’ve learned that Col. George Illes, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, was born and raised in Quincy. An elementary school was named after him. When I touched the Mustang, and looked up into blue sky, I whispered a thank you. I hope that all of us will always remember the brave Tuskegee Airmen who risked their lives to defend this country.

Before 1940, African Americans were denied opportunities to become pilots in the U.S. military because of discrimination and prejudice. Some high-ranking officials at that time believed blacks were inferior to whites and didn’t belong in aircraft. Many wanted to see them fail. But they didn’t give up. The Tuskegee Airmen aimed high, used their brains to succeed, and as a result became the first black military pilots in U.S. history. After making it through training, they were ready to go and expected to win. They flew 1,578 combat missions and 179 bomber escort runs. They earned Three Distinguished Unit Citations, a Silver Star, 14 Bronze Stars, 744 Air Medals and 8 purple hearts. The Tuskegee Airmen rank among America’s greatest heroes.

That sunny afternoon was a pivotal point in my life. I took the Tuskegee Airmen’s bravery, determination, and perseverance to heart. It reminds me of the possibilities of what a person can do with their life if they aim high! 

Vy K. Thai

11th Grade

1st place

How the WASP’s Six Principles Influenced Me

I was first introduced to the WASP’s my second year in AFJROTC. Our squadrons were named in honor of two WASP’s: the Harkness Squadron, named after the WASP’s organizer, and the Gillies Squadron, named after Betty Gilles, the first female pilot to qualify. The Women Airforce Service Pilots were the first female aviators in US military history. Women like Nancy Harkness Love and Jackie Cochran petitioned tirelessly to get the military to allow women an opportunity to fly planes.

When the opportunity came after the Pearl Harbor attack, over 25,000 women stepped up for the opportunity to fly. 1,074 of these women would go on to earn their silver wings, solidifying their status as WASP’s. The WASP’s flew over 80 different aircraft types, including bombers, transports and trainers, ferried over 12,650 aircrafts, and flew over 60 million miles. Their notable contributions would aid in military missions and allow more male pilots to be deployed to the front lines. (CAF WASPs History)

Despite their gender, the WASP’s pushed to become aviators even when they were told they couldn’t. Their dedication and resilience proved that women too, can break boundaries and succeed. The successes of the WASP’s were heavily impacted by their six guiding principles: Aim High, Believe in Yourself, Use your Brain, Be Ready to Go, Never Quit and Expect to Win. Inspired by their successes, I want to apply these principles towards my goals.

For me, I want to do something meaningful, something I can look back on with pride. Serving others is the best way that one can live their life, by impacting someone or something important. That’s why I want to AIM HIGH and serve in the Marine Corps. However, as an Asian female, I’m expected to study hard and marry a wealthy man. The military was meant for men, not women. By choosing to defy tradition, I’ve received backlash from people around me. I was told I’d suffer and die at war, that I’d be a “pee on”, and that I would get raped.

Despite the discouragement, I will persist, BELIEVING IN MYSELF and my dreams. I will strive to increase my PFT scores. Currently, I’ve maxed out pull-ups and planks for women, but still need to work on improving my run time. I’m also working towards gaining weight (7 more pounds!).