Since 1938, Gill Robb Wilson led the argument to create an organization that would use civilian air resources to aid the U.S. in the event that it entered World War II. Gill Robb Wilson and nearly 150,000 people involved in aviation who wanted this organization created, were supported by General Henry Arnold. And on December 1, 1941, the Civil Air Patrol was created as part of the Office of Civilian Defense. The creation of the CAP was ironically only one week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Members of the CAP became known as the Minutemen of World War II. They volunteered their time and talents to help defend the U.S.'s borders and fill in where men were being drafted to fight over seas. Over time as the CAP performed important and vital tasks and made a good reputation for itself, the Army Air Forces took notice. In 1943, the CAP was reassigned from part of the Office of Civilian Defense to the War Department, under jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces.

During the war, the CAP performed many missions to aid the U.S. war effort. Most notably they flew patrol missions on the U.S. coasts to search for enemy submarines, and sunk two of them. Other duties included search and rescue operations throughout the U.S., and cargo and courier flights to get vital material and personnel to their destinations.

Harry S. Truman recognized the CAP as an important part of the country, and on July 1, 1946 that incorporated it as a non-profit organization. Then on May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 which permanently established the CAP as the official Auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. This allowed the Secretary of the Air Force to provide finances and materials to the organization.

Today, the CAP has more than 53,000 members, 535 light aircraft, and an extensive communications capability. It provides aerospace education for its cadets, cadet programs such as leadership courses, and emergency services when needed. They often lead the search and rescue operations when there is a civilian incident.

I was in the CAP for a few years as a cadet. The thing that I can still enjoy about it today was flying in Cessnas (it's really fun, try it sometime) and helping in rescue missions of people lost in the middle of nowhere or who weren't so lucky and crashed in a plane (also in the middle of nowhere).

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