Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was created on 1 December 1941 with Maj. Gen. John F. Curry as the first CAP national commander. Civil Air Patrol is credited with sinking at least two German U-boats during World War II.
Today, CAP is no longer called on to destroy submarines, but is instead a benevolent non-profit organization dedicated to education and national service. For the past 80 years, it has served as a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds and walks of life, consisting of 1,400 squadrons and approximately 56,000 volunteer youth and adult members nationwide. The organization performs three congressionally assigned key missions: Emergency Services (including search and rescue, disaster relief, counter drug, etc.), Aerospace Education for youth and the general public, and Cadet Programs. In addition, it has been tasked with Homeland Security and courier service missions. CAP also performs non-auxiliary missions for various governmental and private agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Office of Emergency Management (OEM), local law enforcement and the American Red Cross.
The Civil Air Patrol officially became a member of the U.S. Air Force’s Total Force, which also includes the active-duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard in August 2015. And, in 2014, Congress recognized the Civil Air Patrol with a Congressional Gold Medal for its service during World War II.
During World War II, the Civil Air Patrol was seen as a way to use America's civil aviation resources to aid the war effort instead of grounding them. The organization eagerly assumed many missions including anti-submarine patrol and warfare, border patrols and courier services. The Civil Air Patrol sighted 173 enemy submarines and officially sank two. Despite being a volunteer force that was largely untrained in combat and military science, the organization's performance far exceeded expectations.
After the end of World War II, the Civil Air Patrol became a civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. The incorporation charter declared that CAP would never again be involved in direct combat activities, but would be of a benevolent nature. CAP still actively performs search and rescue missions within the United States.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Civil Air Patrol aircraft provided the first aerial pictures of the World Trade Center site, "Ground Zero," and also flew transport missions bringing donated blood to New York City. CAP members responded by the thousands to help out in the aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, both on the air and on the ground – helping with search missions, disaster relief and aerial survey flights.
Volunteers Serving America’s Communities, Saving Lives, and Shaping Futures.
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