The Civil Air Patrol was created on 1 December 1941 (six days before Pearl Harbor) in Cape May, NJ, with civilian aviators using their own planes to guard the NJ coastline as war was looming on the home front. During World War II, the Civil Air Patrol presented the means of using America's civilian aviation resources to aid the war effort. Thousands of volunteer members answered America's call to national service and sacrifice by accepting and performing critical wartime missions. Assigned to the War Department under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps, the contributions of Civil Air Patrol, including logging more than 500,000 flying hours and saving hundreds of crash victims during World War II, are well documented. CAP members eagerly assumed the missions, including anti-submarine patrol and warfare, border patrols and courier services. CAP sighted 173 enemy submarines and officially sank two.
After the end of World War II, a thankful nation understood that Civil Air Patrol could continue providing valuable services to both local and national agencies. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 incorporating Civil Air Patrol -- a benevolent non-profit organization dedicated to education and national service. On May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 permanently establishing Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. For the past 75 years, it has served as a volunteer organization with over 60,000 members, including over 26,000 cadets and nearly 35,000 adult members. CAP performs three Congressionally-assigned missions: Aerospace Education, Emergency Services, and Cadet Programs.