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The History and Missions of Civil Air Patrol
would frequently locate crews from sunken commercial ships and then radio to shore to send rescue ships to pick up survivors. Atlantic City's first CAP flight was in the air just 15 minutes when they encountered survivors of the tanker Gulf Trade approximately three miles off Barnegat Light. By the end of the war, CAP planes had flown over a quarter million hours of coastal patrol, spotted 171 submarines and sank 2. Throughout this time, 59 of these civilian volunteers died while in service to their country.
Initially chartered just days before Pearl Harbor, the original mission of the Civil Air Patrol was to find, chase, and even sink German submarines patrolling off the Atlantic coast. These submarines were responsible for sinking many commercial ships and thus impeding the war effort. As they began, the only means of attach was to buzz the subs and try to force them to break off their attack. As the war effort increased, these private aircraft were fitted with bombs and depth charges.
In addition to hunting subs, a natural part of the flights became search and rescue. Pilots
Original emblem used on aircraft
As the need for coastal patrol decreased, CAP began providing other services to their country. Some pilots towed targets for ground gunners to practice shooting. Others served as targets at night for troops learning to use searchlights. Still others flew liaison flights between military bases and defense plants. All of these services were necessary to the war effort as most military aircraft were engaged in combat activities.
CAP was responsible for the building of 81 civilian airports during the war, improved 108 others, and managed 215. They also participated in mock air raids up to the point of even dropping thousands of small paper bombs.
The earliest of our current missions had its beginnings back in World War II as well. CAP began performing search and rescue missions to help recover individuals lost in domestic military flights as well as ferry flights. Due to some of the western terrain, it was even necessary for ground crews to go in on horseback to rescue survivors.
CAP Pilots Maj. Hugh R. Sharp (C) and Lt. Edmond Edwards (R) are the first pilots of WWII to be personally presented with the Air Medal by President Roosevelt.
maintain an operations section through which we perform various National, Air Force, State, and Local taskings. The primary responsibility is inland search and rescue. However, we do perform other missions as assigned by the Air Force including counterdrug surveillance, homeland security services, and disaster relief.
On 10 December 2014 the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the Civil Air Patrol�s to honor those members who served in Civil Air Patrol during World War II.
Please feel free to click on the individual missions on the menu at the left for more detailed information about that particular mission.
In 1943, CAP was chartered by congress as a benevolent, humanitarian organizations. In 1946 control was shifted to the Army Air Corp. In 1947, CAP moved with the creation of the Air Force and by an act of congress became the official auxilary of the United States Air Force in May 1948.
Since that time, the missions of CAP have all been of a humanitarian effort. We are responsible for an Aerospace Education Program to help train individuals who will become our future pilots, astronauts, and aviation workers. We are charged with running a Cadet Program to provide our youth with the skills necessary to become the leaders of tomorrow as well as to educate our youth as to the pitfalls of substance abuse. Finally we
A crash survivor in Nevada is rescued on horseback.
CHARLESTON COMPOSITE SQUADRON