On December 1, 2016, we celebrated our 75th birthday! Our intrepid founders took to the skies to protect the homeland against the attacks from Nazi U-Boats that prowled the shores of the east and gulf coasts. The very first coastal patrol flight took off from the MER Coastal Patrol Base 2 in Rehoboth, Delaware, on March 5, 1942. From March 5th 1942 to August 31st 1943 before officially handing the mission over to the Army and Navy, the Coastal Patrol reported 173 U-boats and attacked 57 of them with 83 ordnance pieces (aka bombs) resulting in two recorded but unconfirmed kills.
Overall, the Coastal Patrol flew 86,865 missions, logging over 244,600 hours. Coastal Patrol aircraft reported 91 ships in distress and played a key role in rescuing 363 survivors of U-boat attacks. 17 floating mines were reported and 5,684 convoy missions were flown for the Navy.
On December 10, 2014, the US Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Capitol Hill in honor of our founding members’ role in protecting the homeland against deadly German U-boat attacks during World War II and carrying out other vital wartime domestic missions. Dating back to the American Revolution, the Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow. This was only one of the early missions of the Civil Air Patrol and today we continue our congressionally-assigned missions of Emergency Services, Cadet Programs and Aerospace Education (STEM).
CAP has 52 wings, one for each state and one for Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands. These wings are divided into eight geographic regions; the MER contains the mid-Atlantic wings of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. The MER provides command oversight for each wing and support for staff areas to execute our missions.
Last year the MER flew over 14,000 hours with its 62 aircraft. These missions included training and actual missions supporting search and rescue, homeland security, counter drug, disaster relief, and orientation flights -introducing the world of aviation to youth and educators to support the “hands on” science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs across the region. Our world-class cadet program for youth ages 12-20 provides an enriched leadership opportunity to help train the leaders of tomorrow.
The most important asset of our region is our 7,500 unpaid professionals who stand ready to support the CAP motto of “Semper Vigilans” (Always Vigilant). Our region motto of “No Borders – No Boundaries” demonstrates our commitment to serve using all the resources available whenever and wherever we are tasked, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are interested in working with youth, in emergency services or in support of our country’s homeland security and counter drug missions, then consider Civil Air Patrol. Please visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com, our national headquarters’ website, or link to your state (wing) website and find the nearest unit or contact your wing headquarters.
John M. Knowles, Colonel, CAP
Middle East Region