On this Memorial Day, I want to remember some of the unsung heros of our national security. I am referring to members of the United States Civil Air Patrol.
The Civil Air Patrol was created in December of 1941, just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their original mission was to patrol the eastern coast of the United States, searching for submarine activity and torpedoed ships. The pilots were supposed to radio their sightings to the military, but when help was slow in coming they would stage mock "dive bombing" maneuvers to chase attacking subs away from commercial vessels.
CAP pilots used their own planes, but were eventually given bombs and depth charges to add some punch to their surveillance efforts.
CAP patrols sighted 173 subs and sank 2 before being ordered to stand down. One Nazi submariner later revealed that their U-boats stopped attacking U.S. waters "because of those damned little red and yellow airplanes."
Today, the Civil Air Patrol operates as an auxilliary of the United States Air Force. They provide Emergency Services such as search and rescue operations, Cadet Programs to train young adults for service, and Aerospace Education.
During WWII, 64 CAP aviators lost their lives protecting the United States. Today, their successors carry on that legacy of selfless sacrifice by volunteering countless hours to preserve our safety and security.