Monday, December 1, 2014

This Day in WWII History: Dec 1, 1941: Director La Guardia formalized the creation of Civil Air Patrol with Administrative Order 9

With the approval of the Army Air Corps, Director La Guardia formalized the creation of Civil Air Patrol with Administrative Order 9, signed on 1 December 1941 and published 8 December 1941. This order outlined the Civil Air Patrol's organization and named its first national commander as Major General John F. Curry. Wilson was officially made the executive officer of the new organization. Additionally, Colonel Harry H. Blee was appointed the new operations director.[1]

The very fear that sparked the Civil Air Patrol "movement" — that general aviationwould be halted — became a reality when the Imperial Japanese Navy attackedPearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. On 8 December 1941, all civil aircraft, with the exception of airliners, were grounded. This ban was lifted two days later (with the exception of the entire West Coast) and things went more or less back to normal.

Earle E. Johnson took notice of the lack of security at general aviation airports despite the attack on Pearl Harbor. Seeing the potential for light aircraft to be used by saboteurs, Johnson took it upon himself to prove how vulnerable the nation was. Johnson took off in his own aircraft from his farm airstrip near Cleveland, Ohio, taking three small sandbags with him. Flying at 500 feet (150 m), Johnson dropped a sandbag on each of three war plants and then returned to his airstrip. The next morning he notified the factory owners that he had "bombed" their facilities. The CAA apparently got Johnson's message and grounded all civil aviation until better security measures could be taken. Not surprisingly, the Civil Air Patrol's initial membership increased along with the new security.[2]

With America's entrance into World War II, German U-boats began to operate along the East Coast. Their operations were very effective, sinking a total of 204 vessels by September 1942. The Civil Air Patrol's top leaders requested that the War Department give them the authority to directly combat the U-boat threat. The request was initially opposed, for the CAP was still a young and inexperienced organization. However, with the alarming numbers of ships being sunk by the U-boats, the War Department finally agreed to give CAP a chance.

On 5 March 1942, under the leadership of the newly promoted National Commander Johnson (the same Johnson that had "bombed" the factories with sandbags), the Civil Air Patrol was given authority to operate a coastal patrol at two locations along the East Coast: Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They were given a time frame of 90 days to prove their worth. The CAP's performance was outstanding, and before the 90 day period was over, the coastal patrol operations were authorized to expand in both duration and territory.[3] By the end of the war, CAP pilots had flown over 500,000 mission hours. However, more than 90 aircraft were lost, and between 59 and 64 CAP pilots were killed, including 26 who were lost while on coastal patrol.[4][5]


  1. Jump up^ CAPP 50-5 (2002), p. 6.
  2. Jump up^ CAPP 50-5 (2002), p. 7.
  3. Jump up^ CAPP 50-5 (2002), p. 8.
  4. Jump up^ "Civil Air Patrol"Air Force Link. 27 November 2006. Archived from the original on 15 March 2008.
  5. Jump up to:a b Ames, Drew (April 2007). "Guarding the home skies"America in WWII (310 Publishing). ISSN 1554-5296. Retrieved3 October 2008.

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