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Fact Sheet

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Citizens Serving Communities

CAP serves America by developing our nation's youth;

performing local, state and national missions;

and informing our citizens about the importance of aerospace education.

In December 1941, one week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Civil Air Patrol was founded by more than 150,000 citizens who were concerned about the defense of America’s coastline. Under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces, CAP pilots flew more than 500,000 hours, were credited with sinking two enemy submarines and rescued hundreds of crash survivors during World War II. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman established CAP as a federally chartered benevolent civilian corporation, and Congress passed Public Law 557 on May 26, 1948. CAP was charged with three primary missions – aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. With the passage of Public Law 106-398 in October 2000, Congress provided that "The Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer civilian auxiliary of the Air Force when the services of the Civil Air Patrol are used by any department or agency in any branch of the federal government."


• Is classified as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation.

• Operates as the all-volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force when performing services for the federal government.

• Includes eight geographic regions consisting of 52 wings (the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia).

• Has nearly 1,500 squadrons, and more than 61,000 volunteer cadet and adult members nationwide.

• Provides opportunities for members to serve the community, participate in resident and/or distance learning leadership development training and acquire new skills to benefit personal and professional growth.

• Operates one of the largest fleets of single-engine piston aircraft in the world, with 550 currently in the fleet.

• Flies approximately 112,000 hours annually.

• Maintains a fleet of more than 900 emergency service vehicles for training and mission support.

• Provides support to cadets and adult members through more than 550 chaplains.

• Supports members with about 100 corporate staff at CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.


• Educates adult and cadet members and the community on the importance of aerospace.

• Provides support for educational conferences and workshops nationwide.

• Develops, publishes and distributes national academic standards-based aerospace education curricula for kindergarten through college classrooms.

• Offers grant, award, college credit and scholarship opportunities for adult, cadet and teacher members.

• Provides educators with free educational programs, products and services, including orientation airplane flights.

• Provides comprehensive aerospace education resources online.


• Conducts 90 percent of inland search and rescue in the U.S., as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies.

• Coordinates Air Force-assigned missions through the CAP National Operations Center at Maxwell AFB at a cost of $120-$160 per flying hour.

• Performs aerial reconnaissance for homeland security.

• Saves an average of 80 lives per year (100-plus in FY 2010).

• Provides disaster-relief support to local, state and national organizations.

• Transports time-sensitive medical materials, blood products and body tissues when commercial routes are unavailable.

• Provides impact assessment, light transport, communications support and low-level route surveys for the U.S. Air Force.

• Assists federal law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs.

• Conducts orientation flights for Air Force Junior and Senior ROTC cadets.

• Maintains the most extensive VHF and HF communications network in the nation.


• Includes more than 26,000 members ages 12 through 20.

• Educates youth in four main program areas: leadership, aerospace, fitness and character development.

• Provides after-school cadet program to enrich school curricula.

• Offers orientation flights in powered and glider aircraft, and flight training scholarships.

• Provides about 10 percent of each year’s new classes entering U.S. Air Force Academy.

• Provides enlistment in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and U.S. Coast Guard at higher pay grade for cadets who have earned the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award.

• Provides activities and competitions for cadets at the local, state, regional and national levels.

• Provides an International Air Cadet Exchange program.

• Provides college scholarships in several disciplines.

• Provides opportunities for community involvement through color guard/drill team presentations and an active role in emergency service missions.

• Provides opportunities to test-fly careers in aviation, space and technology through dozens of summer activities.

• Challenges youth to be ambassadors for a drug-free lifestyle

Promoting Drug-Free Lifestyles

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NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS — As they do every fall, many of Civil Air Patrol’s more than 61,000 members are promoting healthy, drug-free lifestyles during their nationwide observance of Red Ribbon Week.

The oldest, largest drug prevention campaign in the U.S., Red Ribbon Week is observed across America Oct. 23-31. This year’s national campaign theme is “The Best Me is Drug Free.”

Throughout the week, CAP wings are encouraging their officers and cadets to show support for a drug-free America by wearing and distributing red ribbons emblazoned with the slogan “Follow Your Dream & Stay Clean” — submitted as the winning entry by a New Mexico Wing cadet, Cadet Tech. Sgt. Spencer Graham of the Thunderbird Composite Squadron, in a nationwide contest last year.

“We normally give out over 200,000 ribbons for all of the volunteers to use,” said Margaret Probst, program assistant for the drug demand reduction program at National Headquarters.

Members are also conducting educational programs at schools in their communities. Using the DDR program’s Red Ribbon Leadership Academy curriculum, officers and cadets speak out against drug use and share leadership lessons with local middle school students.

“We have leaders who are chosen from each of the wings and units. Their job is to promote a drug-free message to cadets,” said Probst, whose office provides many of the materials for community outreach efforts across CAP.

Books, pamphlets, pens, pencils and bracelets from CAP serve as a reminder to youth that “drugs are bad,” she said. “You never know when they’re going to look at that message and it hits home.”

Capt. Mary Story, Maine Wing drug demand reduction administrator, said, “We’ve got to get the truth about drugs out to young people.”

Currently, 48 CAP wings are active in the program, with 468 squadrons involved.

The U.S. Air Force and CAP became involved with Red Ribbon Week in 1994 as a way to improve the lives of service members’ families and children. CAP, as the Air Force auxiliary, has since expanded its role to include a year-round drug demand reduction Program with three major elements – education, training and community outreach. Each element is designed to bring an anti-drug message to the community, students throughout the nation and CAP members.

The origins of Red Ribbon Week date back nearly three decades to a local effort in Imperial Valley, Calif., to honor the memory of former resident Enrique Camarena, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent slain in March 1985 in Mexico. Members of Camarena Clubs began wearing red ribbons in the slain agent's memory. In 1988, Congress proclaimed the final week of October as “Red Ribbon Week for a Drug-Free America.”

Red Ribbon Week has since grown to be the nation’s best-known drug prevention program. Participants annually include schools, businesses, government, military, service organizations, law enforcement, religious institutions, adults and youth who wear the red ribbon to show their support for the campaign. 

Wreaths Across America

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NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS – Civil Air Patrol, in conjunction with Wreaths Across America, is observing National Military and Veterans Appreciation Month for the second straight year with “Thank You For Your Service” cards for U.S. veterans.

The observance began Sunday and continues through Memorial Day.

This year, CAP and Wreaths Across America are teaming with the Walmart Corp., which is welcoming more than 160 CAP units in front of many of its 4,000 stores nationwide during the month to distribute the cards and raise funds for Wreaths Across America by accepting wreath sponsorships and donations.

“This allows us to get an early start on honoring our military members – those who are active, retired or deceased – and to support CAP and WAA’s 2011 goal of placing a wreath on every grave at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Col. Richard L. Moseley, CAP’s Wreaths Across America project officer.

Each “thank you” card provided by Wreaths Across America has a place for CAP members to add their own region, wing and squadron information. The card directs recipients to the Web page for tthe thank-you campaign.

Each card identifies CAP squadrons enrolled in the initiative and encourages the sponsorship of remembrance wreaths for this year’s holiday ceremonies, set for the week of Dec. 4-10.

“We are hoping to distribute half-a-million thank-you cards,” Moseley said.

“We want to show support for our service members year-round, rather than just during the holidays. This is that opportunity,” Moseley said. “Plus, it gives us a great head start on our fundraising efforts for the 2011 Arlington Cemetery Project.”

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that recognizes the courage and sacrifices of U.S. veterans with wreath-laying ceremonies during the December holiday season at national cemeteries and monuments throughout the country and abroad.

Partnering with Wreaths Across America, based at Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, Maine, is now a multiyear holiday tradition for CAP. CAP members lead many of the more than 400 Wreaths Across America observances each year as well as provide color and honor guards for additional locations. CAP members request sponsorships for the remembrance wreaths for these observances.

More information about participating in Wreaths Across America or obtaining thank-you cards can be found at the campaign's website.

Copyright 2011 Midrivers Squadron Civil Air Patrol. Mid Rivers Cap
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