|Civil Air Patrol marking local squadron’s 70th year |
|Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2011 9:01 pm |
| The Everett-Stewart Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of CAP with a unit ceremony and an open house at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport near Union City Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. |
Awards will be presented to squadron members during the celebration, for which an invitation to the public and government officials has been extended.
It was Dec. 1, 1941, when a group of volunteers led by civilian pilots, now known as the Civil Air Patrol, began flying their own planes at their own expense to support America’s efforts in World War II.
Their primary effort was flying reconnaissance missions near the country’s coasts to protect cargo ships, especially vital oil tankers, which were being sunk at an alarming rate. Because these “subchasers” were spotting so many enemy submarines, their light aircraft were armed with small bombs and their larger aircraft with 325-pound depth charges. Over the next year and a half, they spotted 143 German submarines, attacking 57 and sinking two.
The wartime effort, which included border patrol operations, search and rescue, disaster relief, forest fire patrol, emergency transportation of personnel and critical cargo and towing practice targets for the U.S. military, also resulted in the loss of 26 members and 90 aircraft in the war’s beginning stages and 64 deaths and 150 lost aircraft by war’s end.
The Coastal Patrol was heralded as a great success, prompting President Harry Truman to sign Public Law 476 in 1946, which made CAP a benevolent, nonprofit organization and, nearly two years later, in 1948, the Congress of the United States passed Public Law 557, permanently establishing CAP as the auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force with the three primary missions of emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education.
Since that auspicious beginning, a modern-day Civil Air Patrol has emerged to become one of the nation’s premier humanitarian service organizations, saving lives, finding those who are lost, helping fellow citizens in times of disaster, working to keep America safe, preparing future leaders, offering aerospace education to inspire the nation’s youth and honoring the military.
Civil Air Patrol, supported by the world’s largest fleet of single-engine aircraft equipped with high-tech toolboxes like full-motion video, infrared cameras and glass cockpit aircraft, has established itself among the nation’s search and rescue elite, now participating in up to 90 percent of the Air Force’s inland search and rescue missions.
In the past year alone, many of Civil Air Patrol’s professional volunteers, backed by CAP’s own experts in cell phone forensics and radar tracking experts, left their families and their homes, often in adverse weather conditions, to participate in 1,016 search and rescue missions in which they were credited with saving 113 lives.
Today, the Civil Air Patrol’s main missions remain the same — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. The cadet programs’ goal is to educate young men and women ages 12-20 about military customs and courtesy, leadership, aerospace, character development and physical fitness. Through aerospace education, CAP promotes an understanding and appreciation of aviation and space exploration as it relates to society and to national security. The emergency services mission consists of air and ground search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian services.
The Civil Air Patrol’s youth program currently includes more than 26,500 cadets who benefit from a curriculum that trains them to be leaders; offers them opportunities for flight, including pilot training; and teaches emergency services techniques, including lifesaving.
CAP reaches tens of thousands of the country’s school-age children and their teachers, regardless of their membership in Civil Air Patrol, with a comprehensive selection of academic programs that stress the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, in addition to programs that encourage a drug-free lifestyle.
Its membership includes an 868-member Chaplain Corps that fulfills critical needs for deployed U.S. military chaplains and provides counseling services for soldiers and their families, as well as disaster victims.
In its partnership with Wreaths Across America, also Civil Air Patrol annually honors military veterans by helping sponsor and place tens of thousands of wreaths at the graves of fallen soldiers at U.S. cemeteries nationwide and overseas.
For more information about the local organization, contact Everett-Stewart Regional Airport manager Jo Ann Speer at 885-1221.
Published in The Messenger 12.1.11