Harbor propelled the United States into World War II, but many
saw the AXIS threat long before Dec. 7, 1941. Among them were nearly
150,000 men and women involved in aviation.
As early as
1938, they began to argue for the creation of an organization to
harness their aviation resources to aid the nation in the event America
entered the conflict. Their efforts, led by writer-aviator Gill Robb
Wilson and supported by Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, resulted in the
creation of the Civil Air Patrol on Dec. 1, 1941 - one week before
organized under the Office of Civilian Defense, headed by former New
York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Civil Air Patrol members became the
"Minutemen" of World War II, volunteering their time, resources, and
talents to defend the nation's borders and fill the gaps as men and
resources were being mobilized to fight abroad.
Department, especially the Army Air Forces, recognized the important
roles performed by CAP. In April 1943, CAP was reassigned from the
Office of Civilian Defense to the War Department and placed under the
jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces.
German surrender, one of Hitler's high-ranking naval officers was asked
why the Nazi U-boats had been withdrawn from U.S. coastal waters early
in 1943. The answer was exploded in a curt guttural: 'It was because of
those damned little red and yellow planes!'"
From Robert E. Neprud's Flying Minute Men
Minutemen, all volunteers, performed valiantly during the war. They
performed many missions including coastal patrol to search for enemy
submarines, search and rescue missions throughout the United States,
cargo and courier flights to transfer critical materials and personnel,
and even towing targets so Army Air Corps personnel could practice
air-to-air gunnery techniques - a very risky mission with new gunners.
these volunteers amassed a stunning record - flying more than
half-a-million hours, sinking two enemy submarines, and saving hundreds
of crash victims.
nation recognized the vital role CAP played during the war and
understood the organization could continue to provide invaluable help
both local andnational agencies.
On July 1,
1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 that incorporated
CAP asa benevolent, nonprofit organization.
And on May
26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 which permanently established
CAP as the Auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. This law also gave
the Secretary of the Air Force the authority to provide financial and
material assistance to the organization.