Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Mid Week At Work: The Civil Air Patrol. Bar Harbor, Maine, 1944.
The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. Created during World War Two, it's original purpose was to harness the nations large fleet of small private aircraft for use in near shore anti submarine patrols. The light aircraft, repainted in bright colors to allow for them to be easily spotted by other American aircraft, basically flew the Atlantic in patterns to look for surfaced submarines. As submarines of that era operated on the surface routinely, this proved to be fairly effective and was greatly disruptive to the German naval effort off of the American coast.
The CAP also flew some patrols along the Mexican border during the same period, although I've forgotten what the exact purpose of them was. Early in the war, there was quite a bit of concern about Mexico, given its problematic history during World War One, and given that the Mexican government was both radical and occasionally hostile to the United States. These fears abated fairly rapidly.
The CAP still exists, with its post war mission having changed to search and rescue. It also has a cadet branch that somewhat mirrors JrROTC. Like JrROTC it has become considerably less martial over time, reflecting the views of boomer parents, who have generally wished, over time, to convert youthful organizations that were organized on military or quasi military lines into ones focusing on "citizenship" and "leadership"..