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CAP is a new group in Douglas, offers help in search and rescue operations

by Nancy Hamlett

The Civil Air Patrol has a long history of serving the American public. Established Dec. 1, 1941, the CAP was an instrumental force during World War II.

Organized under the Office of Civil Defense, CAP volunteers flew over 24 million miles on coastal patrol, as well as providing orientation flights to thousands of prospective aviation cadets and recruits. With over 75,000 volunteers, CAP was transferred to the War Department as an auxiliary of the Air Armed Forces in 1943, and in 1946, the CAP became a permanent peacetime institution.

The final change to the CAP was in 1948 when it became a permanent civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. National Headquarters for CAP is at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. It recently celebrated 50 years of serving the public with a force of 53,000 members and 535 light aircraft.

As an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, the CAP provides support to this branch of the military.

“The CAP was entrusted with three major missions,” said Capt. John Martin, commander of Douglas County Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, The Record- Courier’s featured organization for March, “aerospace education, emergency services and the cadet program which fosters the enhancement of leadership skills through military and aviation related activities.”

The Douglas County Composite Squadron was recently formed and is less than one year old. Joining Capt. Martin, the squadron consists of 30 senior volunteers (over 18) and 15 cadets (18 and under.) Deputy commander for seniors is 2nd Lt. Roger Smith, and deputy commander for cadets is recently promoted Capt. Dennis Rosenberg.

All of the members of the Douglas squadron are volunteers, donating their time and talents. Not all members are pilots. Many members support the squadron by providing ground support during search and rescue operations or by providing emergency relief during major disasters. Other members promote aerospace education by speaking at schools or at civic organizations.

The squadron meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the CAP building at the airport. To prepare a member for CAP volunteer work, extensive training and education in more than 20 different tracks is provided. In addition, technical training is offered to members in relevant areas, such as flight operation, emergency services and communications.

“We have a general information meeting and then we break into groups,” said 2nd Lt. Ellen Rosenberg, public affairs officer for the squadron. “We identify areas that need to be completed in order to be prepared for any emergency, and then we work together to accomplish the task.”

During February, one meeting involved completion of the operations board and marking out grids on maps. Other meetings may include training sessions in life saving, safety or organizational techniques.

The Douglas County squadron is particularly proud of their cadet program. And because many of the members need assistance with their training, the CAP is having its first fund-raiser to benefit the program.

The fund-raiser will be a 1940s style USO hangar dance complete with big band music, an officer’s club and NCO club. The squadron hopes to have World War II and other vintage airplanes on display.

“Many of our cadets need help with fees for cadet-sponsored programs, uniforms or transportation costs,” said Rosenberg. “There are many exciting opportunities for cadets such as aerospace education, ground training, flight school, and the CAP cadet program stresses leadership and moral character. The senior members decided that they should receive the benefits from this fundraiser.”

In honor of Armed Forces Day, the hangar dance will be held on May 15. Further information will be published as the details are worked out. Martin said that the whole squadron is excited about the event, and they hope that the community will support it.

“Our cadets are our future,” said Martin. “We want to provide for them quality programs to enhance their leadership skills and aviation related activities.”

People who are interested in learning more about the Civil Air Patrol are urged to contact Capt. Martin at CAP Headquarters, P.O. Box 2018, Minden 89423 or call 782-6260.