CAP was founded, on Dec. 1, 1941, less than a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led to America’s involvement in World War II. Members of CAP’s Coastal Patrol quickly proved their worth during the war by conducting aerial patrols, vigilance that discouraged and eventually stopped deadly German U-boat attacks on shipping in American waterways.
Inspired by the highest sense of patriotism and pride in their mission, these volunteer aviators, known as “subchasers,” flew more than 24 million miles during 86,000 over-water missions – a total of 244,600 flight hours – to keep the U-boats away from America’s coasts. They spotted 173 subs, attacked 57, hit 10 and sank two; called in aid for 91 ships in distress; saved 363 survivors of sub attacks; discovered 17 floating mines; and flew 5,684 special convoy missions. Fifty-nine members of these courageous aircrews died, 26 were lost at sea and seven others were seriously injured.
This was the beginning of CAP’s proud legacy of selfless sacrifice and service to country and community, which still thrives today through you and the other 57,000
citizen volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol. I salute you for your vigilance, which now
affects communities in all of America’s 50 states, the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico...
CAP National Commander
:: The letter goes on. You can read the rest of the letter here. (download the .PDF) The rest of the letter is pretty much what I would have written myself if I was the National Commander...
But I'm not the National Commander. I'm just a Captain, just a mission pilot who's name is on an alert roster. I'm back to being just another volunteer after serving a tour as a Squadron Commander.
For most of 2008 I took a break from blogging about CAP. I've made other ventures my priority. I've been frustrated, let down, and downright disillusioned with CAP as an organization. The petty politics, the lousy leadership, the lack of initiative, and the increasing lack of relevance had left me burnt out on CAP.
Despite all that I continue to serve. I show up almost weekly to Squadron meetings. I offer tribal knowledge to those who ask. I teach. I show up on time and ready to fly when called.
The anniversary letter is pretty much what I would have written if I was in the General's chair. But since I have no stars on my shoulders, but much of what comes after the historic bits... I just don't buy anymore.
When I study the birth of the CAP and compare it to what we have become, I am disappointed. When I think about where we seem to be heading, it makes me sad.
(cue Dos Gringos now please)
So since I'm not the one with stars on my shoulders... All I can do is show up when called, ready to do my job the best I can. I do this in service to my community, my state, and my nation.
You're welcome to follow along here.