Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, Celebrates 76 Years of Service in Washington
Founded in 1941, Civil Air Patrol was built to organize general aviation nationally and protect the homeland during World War II. CAP’s Washington Wing was chartered the same year. Read the rich history of cooperation between CAP and our armed forces here.
Just one year later, Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program was created when then-National Commander Earl Johnson of the U.S. Army Air Forces recognized that to truly fulfill its mission, CAP needed to “extend opportunities for service to the young people of the United States.” Every squadron and flight was urged to “take prompt action in organizing a cadet unit for the young people of its community.” Over 200,000 men and women, ages 15 and up served during WWII – in 48 wings, one per state – flying about 750,000 hours. A total of 65 volunteers – 62 men, one woman, and two cadets – died on active CAP service during the war, with 150 aircraft lost.
The Cadet Program has always focused on character development, aerospace education, leadership, and physical fitness, and now incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education, and programs like the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot competition. In 2017, cadets from Spokane, Pangborn, Bellingham, and McChord Composite Squadrons received All Service Division State Awards for their efforts in CyberPatriot IX in 2017, with McChord competing in the regional semifinals.
Adult volunteers ages 18 and up have a place among Civil Air Patrol’s senior officer ranks. Owner of an architectural design firm in Seattle, Major Clay Amann earned his Spaatz award in the CAP Cadet Program (earning the rank of Cadet Colonel), and now serves as Washington Wing’s Deputy Director of Cadet Programs. He says, “Civil Air Patrol taught me not to shy away from challenges. I think that was probably one of the leading influences in my early life — definitely while getting through school and getting into the workforce. Without that prior experience of working through adversity, there is probably no way I could have faced the challenges that I have. As far as my job, later on, team leadership is also something that I learned in Civil Air Patrol that definitely translated over very well into the real world.”
Volunteers not only serve at the community and state level, but a few Washington members took opportunities to assist with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts in August. Major Ralph Black, Director of Operations for Washington Wing, and Lieutenant Colonel Christine Johnson of Tri-Cities Composite Squadron assisted at the Incident Command Post at the conference hotel. Members of Washington Wing’s public affairs staff, including First Lieutenant Victoria Wonser, contributed to the national public affair’s team’s efforts as well. In all, Civil Air Patrol’s volunteers from around the nation completed 873 air sorties, 130 ground sorties, and captured more than 200,000 damage assessment photos for FEMA.
Joining the adult ranks of Civil Air Patrol is more than a leadership opportunity. It’s a chance to change the course of a young person’s life. There are 723 cadets and 783 officers serving 28 communities across CAP’s Washington Wing, using CAP’s core values: Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect. Do those sound familiar? The Washington Wing utilizes 23 vehicles and 14 aircraft for inland search and rescue and orientation flights for youth ages 12 and up. Volunteer certified flight instructors conduct more than 500 orientation flights for young aviators each year, and in 2016, Washington members contributed a value of $4.9 million in volunteer hours to the citizens and communities of the state of Washington. To take your leadership to the next generation, to share your skills with a deserving corps of youth, visit www.wawg.cap.gov.
By Jessica Jerwa
Jessica Jerwa is a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol and the Director of Public Affairs Officer for the Pacific Region. She has an extensive background in the legal industry, private education sector, non-profit, public affairs, contracting and federal government environments, as well as public information officer crisis experience.
CAPTION: Washington Wing’s first Wing Commander, Col. Philip H. Hinkley swears in his first staff. 1941. (Courtesy photo: Washington Wing, Civil Air Patrol)
CAPTION: Major Amann, second from the right, joins fellow CAP officers on the obstacle course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington 2015. (Courtesy photo: Green River Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol)