CAP celebrates 62 years of service to America

Dear Editor:

Civil Air Patrol, celebrating 62 years of volunteer service to America, is alive and well and protecting the home skies, just as it did starting December 1, 1941 when the organization was formed.

Gill Robb Wilson, a New Jersey native, was a newspaper reporter for a local paper and was assigned to go to Germany in 1938. What he saw confirmed the suspicions of many Americans on what Hitler and his cronies were doing to the people of Germany. When he came home, he reported to Governor Charles Edison and urged New Jersey to organize and use a civil air fleet as a force in the coming war. With the governor’s approval, Mr. Wilson organized what would become the New Jersey Civil Air Defense Service.

Mr. Wilson got the support of General H. H. (Hap) Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, 1938-1941 and the Civil Aeronautics Authority. His plan called for the use of small planes for liaison work and patrolling uninhabited stretches of coastline and vital installations such as dams, aqueducts, pipelines, etc. to guard against sabotage. Isn’t that what Homeland Security today in 2003 is?

Other notable members interested in making up an organization of civilian personnel to carry out Mr. Wilson’s vision were New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, who at the time was National Director of the Officer of Civilian Defense; Mr. Guy P. Gannet, who at the time was the owner of a New England newspaper chain; Mr. Thomas Beck, Chairman of the Board of Crowell, Collier Publishing Co., and Mr. Wilson. These people saw the need to fight a war and contribute to the well-being of our country. This group of organizers prepared and presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in April of 1941, a proposal to carry out the missions of what would become the Civil Air Patrol.

During WWII, the all Volunteer members of Civil Air Patrol, founded December 1, 1941, did coastal patrol finding, according to national statistics, 143 German U-Boats, attacked 57 and sank three. The members here in New Jersey had a base located at Bader Field, Atlantic City and sank one submarine by dropping a bomb out the window of the airplane.

These volunteers also served as couriers for defense plants and towed targets for anti-aircraft practice for the US Army. We also patrolled for spies and sabotage at our borders with Canada and Mexico as well as rushed medicines and supplies by air to disaster areas.

After the war, Gill Robb Wilson became New Jersey’s first Director of Aviation. In 1948, Civil Air Patrol became the Official Civilian Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. On September 12, 2001, while all commercial aircraft were grounded, Civil Air Patrol aircraft and the US Air Force had the skies of America, to themselves. CAP aircraft conducted aerial photo reconnaissance of the World Trade Center and sent pictures back to a facility set up as a command center, at the request of the New York State Governor. Today, in 2003, the Auxiliary of the US Air Force, Civil Air Patrol boasts of more than 64,000 members nationwide including 27,000 cadets between the ages of 12 to 21. These volunteers give of their time and resources to perform traditional CAP missions, including Search and Rescue, Damage Assessment, aerial reconnaissance and air transportation. Only a fraction of CAP members are pilots, however, many other members serve in less visible ways. Some train and mentor cadets in moral leadership, military customs and technical education. Others serve as chaplains and can stand in for military chaplains who are deployed in times of war or serve communities in critical incident stress management. Still others work in public schools, leading classroom projects that illustrate interest in Aerospace Education, science and math.

The Auxiliary, volunteer members of Civil Air Patrol work with federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency, US Customs interdiction and locating marijuana fields grown in corn fields, state forests and wherever. CAP is also involved in the Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief and is in the forefront of technology for homeland security efforts with the use of digital imaging with satellite transmission and hyper spectral imaging systems located in the aircraft.

New Jersey has 27units based throughout the state. The Jersey City Composite Squadron consists of 50 cadets and 15 senior members. They meet every Saturday at 9 a.m. at P.S. #9 which is next door to Ferris High School. To obtain more information please visit www.CAP.Gov or www.NJWG.CAP.Gov or contact me, Flight Officer Joziph Soliman, at 201-315-7610 or

Joziph Soliman, Flight Officer, CAP
Public Affairs Officer
Jersey City Composite Squadron


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