The Rise of the Civil Air Patrol and its Impact in WWII
In 1948, Congress passed a law that permanently established the Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Today, the Civil Air Patrol, commonly known as CAP, has the primary missions of emergency services, aerospace education, and cadet programs. In stark contrast, the ten years leading up to 1948 witnessed the birth of the Civil Air Patrol as civilians stepped forward to play a major role in protecting the American homeland from the Axis powers of WWII. This is their story. The clouds of war loomed in Europe and Asia long before the U.S. joined the Allies in WWII. American WWI pilots remembered the enemy sub operations that occurred off America’s coasts during that earlier war, and they feared that civilian flying would be banned as America was drawn into WWII. However, they also knew that their small planes could play a role in national defense, so they determined to start an organization that would allow them to continue flying and aid the war effort at the same time.
A number of civilian groups started to organize around the country, but Gil Robb Wilson, the leader of the N.J. Division of Aeronautics, was pivotal in portraying the N.J. Air Guard group as the best model. Wilson was able to convince Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of NY and also the national Civil Defense chief, of his idea. LaGuardia then convinced the Roosevelt administration to allow civilian pilots to continue flying by helping with the impending war effort. As a result, the Civil Air Patrol was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, just one week prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Civil Air Patrol was place under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps. Thousands of volunteer members answered America's call to national service and sacrifice by accepting and performing critical wartime missions in the Civil Air Patrol.
Shortly after America entered into WWII, German U-boats began to operate along the East Coast,...
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