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NEWS | Jan. 20, 2016

Civil Air Patrol: Then and Now

By Senior Airman Clayton Cupit Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Dating back to the 1930's, hundreds of thousands of volunteers lobbied for the establishment of an organization made of civilians who wanted to make a difference and help defend their nation.

Thus, a week prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Civil Air Patrol had been born.

According to the Civil Air Patrol website, volunteers flooded to America's call for national service through accepting critical wartime missions. Serving through the Army Air Corps, CAP members logged more than 500,000 flying hours and managed to save hundreds of aircraft crash victims over the course of World War II.

When the war ended, CAP saw an opportunity to continue providing their services to their country. A few years down the road, President Harry Truman signed a law establishing CAP as a nonprofit organization. A couple years later, Congress passed a law stating CAP as the auxiliary of the newly born U.S. Air Force.

In late August 2015, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary was labeled as the newest member of the Air Force's Total Force, which consists of active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees.

"Three primary mission areas were set forth at the time of CAP's creation," said Capt. Steve Hyland, CAP commander on JB Charleston. "We focus on aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services."

CAP's Three Primary Missions: Aerospace Education

CAP's aerospace education mainly focuses on their CAP members, but they also have an audience in the general public as well.

"The programs ensure that all CAP members (seniors and cadets) have an appreciation for and knowledge of aerospace issues," said Hyland. "To advance within the organization, members are required to participate in the educational program."

Cadet Programs

"While there are many youth oriented programs in America today," said Hyland. "CAP's cadet program is unique in that it uses aviation as a cornerstone."
Young people aged 12 to 21 have the possibility to be introduced to aviation through CAP's cadet program. Through this program, cadets have the ability to progress at their own pace in aerospace education, leadership training and physical fitness programs.

"CAP's cadet programs and aerospace education programs have introduced numerous cadets to STEM subjects and character development," said Hyland. "Additionally, many CAP cadets eventually move on to attend service academies or universities on ROTC scholarships."

Emergency Services

CAP continues to save lives through a plethora of emergency-services and operational missions. CAP flies more than 85 percent of all search-and-rescue missions under the direction of Air Force Rescue Coordination Center located in Tyndall Air Force Base, Fl. CAP members have been saving approximately 75-100 people each year.

"CAP also has a hand in disaster relief, humanitarian services, Air Force support and counterdrug operations as well," said Hyland.

"CAP provides aerial support to the base by flying low level training routes looking for and documenting uncharted obstacles, such as cell towers," said Hyland.

The local CAP chapter originally began as Coastal Patrol Squadron 8 which stood up in May 1941. As the program evolved over the years, the local chapter was changed to Squadron 056, SC Wing, Mid-East Region.

"While the name may have changed, the squadron has maintained continuous operation for 74 years," said Hyland. "We're proud partners of JB Charleston and are always committed to the mission here."