Public Affairs Officer, 2nd Lt. Dennis Maloney, reported to Historic City News that St. Augustine Composite Squadron 173 is proudly celebrating the 70th anniversary of Civil Air Patrol this week along with other squadrons across the country.
Civil Air Patrol began on December 1, 1941 and it quickly became involved in combat operations off the Atlantic and Gulf Coast. Within weeks of the U. S. involvement in World War II, German submarines began sinking vital shipping within sight of Americans standing off the East Coast.
Because the military lacked the necessary ships and aircraft to respond and the attacks were so numerous and successful, the entire early war effort was threatened. At the insistence of the oil industry, the military decided to use CAP’s civilian assistance as an experiment.
And what a successful experiment it was, for CAP was ultimately credited with sinking two German submarines, attacking 57, and reporting 173 to the military. In addition, CAP found 325 survivors of submarine attacks. CAP also performed other vital missions such as search and rescue, border patrol, forest fire patrol, target towing, courier/cargo flights, and other essential tasks.
Since the end of World War II, CAP has become a valuable non-profit, public service organization chartered by Congress. It is now an auxiliary of the U. S. Air Force, charged with providing essential emergency, operational and public services to communities and states nationwide, the federal government and the military.
“Our squadron is also very proud of our cadet programs that we offer to youngsters ages 12-18,” explained Squadron Commander Capt. Ralph Aviles. “Our cadets are prepared to become citizens ready to become leaders in college, the military, and in civilian life.”
St. Augustine Composite Squadron also offers a rigorous schedule for adults that follows the U. S. Air Force model. Individuals begin as senior members and can attain officer grades while becoming proficient in various specialty tracks.
Today’s Civil Air Patrol members follow four core values that are essential to the entire program: Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect.
“We encourage our members to practice these principles while participating in Civil Air Patrol activities and also in their own lives,” added Capt. Aviles.
Senior members and cadets from the squadron recently joined in for a birthday party and promotions ceremony, which featured a cake cutting and a special presentation.
St. Augustine Composite Squadron meets on Wednesday evenings at the Conference Center at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport at 4730 Casa Cola Way in St. Augustine.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U. S. Air Force is a nonprofit organization with more than sixty thousand members nationwide. In its auxiliary role, Civil Air Patrol performs ninety percent of continental inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 113 lives in fiscal year 2010.