Civil Air Patrol celebrates 74 years of volunteer service
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. – The U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol turns 74 today with its 58,000 members poised to celebrate their rich heritage of volunteer service.
“What a year it has been!” exclaimed Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, CAP’s national commander and chief executive officer.
“Last December, shortly after our 73rd anniversary, Civil Air Patrol was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of our World War II veterans from America’s Greatest Generation,” he said. “The Capitol Hill celebration of the extraordinary contributions of these founding members of CAP showcased our proud legacy of sacrifice and service.”
CAP was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, less than a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led to America’s involvement in World War II. Its members quickly proved their worth by conducting aerial patrols on their own, heroism that discouraged and eventually stopped deadly German U-boat attacks along U.S. coastlines and waterways. The wartime service of CAP’s “sub chasers” helped stop the loss of American and Allied merchant vessels, saving the lives of untold thousands of sailors and countless millions of dollars of war materiel destined for the battlefields in Europe and the Pacific.
In addition to coastal patrols, CAP aircrews assisted with other essential wartime missions on the home front, such as search and rescue, disaster relief, border patrol, forest fire patrol, target towing for military practice and transporting critical supplies. Members also managed hundreds of airports and trained aviators – many of them cadets – for future service in CAP and the military.
That legacy lives on in today’s all-volunteer force, which still contributes greatly to America’s defense by providing aerial reconnaissance for homeland security, giving Air Force fighter pilots practice in protecting America’s air space and helping train U.S. military troops for service overseas.
CAP members also make a profound difference in more than 1,500 communities across the nation, saving lives through search and rescue and other emergency services and conducting aerospace education and youth programs that help develop the nation’s next generation of leaders.
Civil Air Patrol’s contributions to national defense were recognized in August when the U.S. Air Force added the longtime Air Force Auxiliary to its Total Force team. Changes to Air Force doctrine officially made Civil Air Patrol a strategic partner of the Air Force and CAP members “Airmen” when conducting Air Force-assigned missions.
The 74th anniversary observance includes an annual “CAP Sunday” activity in which chaplains, character development officers and other members are encouraged to wear their uniforms to their place of worship. The activity is scheduled for the upcoming weekend, Dec. 4-6.
Civil Air Patrol, as the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Total Force role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue
Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs.
Performing missions for America for the past 74 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.