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CAP launches 75th anniversary celebration
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Civil Air Patrol members convened this evening after the organization’s annual Legislative Day to launch CAP’s 75th anniversary celebration.
While CAP will officially turn 75 on Dec. 1, having been founded six days before Pearl Harbor, a yearlong observation of the milestone is underway. It began when officials, members and VIPs gathered at the Crystal City Marriott at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for a reception kicking off the celebration.
Anniversary activities and displays are planned throughout the year – in April at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland, Florida; in June at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II Weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania; in July at EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and in September at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. The observances will culminate with a 75th Anniversary Gala back in the nation’s capital at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Dec. 1.
The 75th Anniversary reception closed out Civil Air Patrol’s 2016 Legislative Day. Every year, representatives from each of CAP’s 52 wings go to Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress on the U.S. Air Force auxiliary’s primary missions.
Speaking to those gathered for the reception, the chairman of CAP’s Board of Governors, U.S. Army Col. Jayson Altieri, forecast a year of “posts, banners, PSAs, anniversary logos, videos, proclamations and news reports about the impact our members’ service has had on the communities we serve.”
Referring to the missions highlighted on the new website, Altieri told his audience that “the weight of these achievements, the myriad ways in which CAP members have stepped up to serve their communities over the past 75 years during national disasters and national emergencies, as well as many, many local events, is mind-boggling.”
“The list of hurricanes alone could just about be used to establish a baby name book!” he quipped.
“I encourage CAP members to take advantage of our 75th anniversary to tell CAP’s stories of service and love of country nationwide,” said the organization’s national commander, Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez. The website and the other resources Altieri cited “can be extremely effective in increasing awareness of who CAP is, the amazing things our members do in cadet programs, aerospace education and emergency services to serve their communities and the nation and what CAP’s brand represents,” Vazquez said.
Keynote speaker for the event was Maj. Jill Paulsen, chaplain for the Illinois Wing’s Lake County Composite Squadron and granddaughter of CAP founder Gill Robb Wilson. Paulsen told the gathering that at the end of the busy day, “despite all the tasks before us, this is the time when the meaning of what we do, and what those who came before us have done, intervenes. When significance overtakes our busy schedules and we … see the bigger picture.”
Col. Frank Blazich, Civil Air Patrol’s chief national historian, was among the CAP dignitaries in attendance. “Since its earliest days, when more than 200,000 Americans responded to the call for service by volunteering during World War II, Civil Air Patrol has kept a vigilant watch on the homeland,” he said. “Today that vigilance continues in a myriad of emergency services, disaster relief and homeland security missions, each focused on the well-being and protection of our citizens.”
Since 2010, CAP has responded to both natural and manmade disasters, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard, flooding in the Midwest, tornadoes in the South and Southwest, wildfires in California, a mudslide in Washington State and a blizzard in South Dakota. Aircrews have also provided tsunami warnings in Hawaii.
CAP’s search and rescue efforts, aided by advances in technology, have resulted in nearly 400 lives saved nationwide in the last six years.
Homeland security missions include aerial reconnaissance conducted near America’s shipyards and on the nation’s waterways. CAP also provides air defense exercises for Air Force fighters protecting U.S. airspace and helps train U.S. troops before they deploy overseas.
“The 75th anniversary celebration is our time to raise our flag, to show our colors,” said Vazquez, who will also oversee the annual winter meeting of CAP’s Command Council on Friday and Saturday at the Crystal City Marriott.
The Command Council consists of CAP’s national commander, national vice commander and executive officer, as well as eight region commanders and 52 wing commanders.