12:33 PM

Secretary of Air Force to Help CAP Celebrate Its 70th Anniversary as Air Force Auxiliary

Civil Air Patrol will mark its 70th anniversary as the U.S. Air Force auxiliary in style at the organization’s National Conference in Anaheim, California, with a keynote address by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, whose family ties to CAP date back to the organization’s earliest days.

More than 800 CAP members are expected to attend the conference from Aug. 23-25 at the Anaheim Marriott. The annual gathering will feature learning labs, presentations by Air Force officers and member recognition for outstanding service.

Wilson is scheduled to speak at the concluding annual banquet, set for 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Aug. 25. Her appearance will highlight CAP’s longstanding relationship with the Air Force. The organization’s status as the Air Force’s official auxiliary dates to President Harry S. Truman’s signing of Public Law 80-557 on May 26, 1948, 10 months after the Air Force was created.

At that time CAP had already been in existence for 6½ years, having been established on Dec. 1, 1941, six days before Pearl Harbor. During World War II CAP members carried out missions to protect the homeland and support the Air Force’s predecessors – the Army Air Corps and the Army Air Forces. CAP was formally recognized as part of the Air Force Total Force in August 2015.

Wilson’s paternal grandfather, George G. “Scotty” Wilson, was one of CAP’s original members. He joined the organization’s New Hampshire Wing during the war and later served as one of the wing’s first commanders.

Wilson became the 24th secretary of the Air Force in May 2017. When she visited CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in December, she proclaimed CAP and its members as “part of the team … whether you’re an observer, whether you’re a pilot or whether you’re on the ground responding to a natural disaster.”

She also cited CAP’s cadet program for inspiring “the next generation of young leaders in aerospace, and that’s probably the most important role from the future of the Air Force,”

As the Air Force auxiliary, CAP assists with aerial intercept and unmanned aerial vehicle training, as well as disaster relief aerial reconnaissance and search and rescue. Its nearly 60,000 volunteer members in 1,445 communities across America respond to disasters; provide teachers and students with aerospace-related STEM (science, technology, engineering and math educational) resources; and inspire youth to excel as adults in their chosen professions through character development, leadership and self-confidence training programs and activities.

On Aug. 24, the day before Wilson speaks, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP's CEO and national commander, will present his State of the Organization address during the conference’s General Assembly. Smith will highlight the organization's major accomplishments and share his vision for CAP's future. 

Other highlights of CAP’s National Conference include:

National Awards
CAP will pay tribute to some of its highest-achieving members, units and wings over the past year during the annual awards program, set to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 25. Top honors include Cadet Lt. Col. Joshua L. Klosterman of the Illinois Wing, Cadet of the Year; Lt. Col. Brenda A. Reed of the Maryland Wing, Senior Member of the Year; and the New Jersey Wing’s Twin Pine Composite Squadron, Squadron of Distinction.

Preconference Workshops
Fifteen preconference workshops will be offered Aug. 20-23. The sessions, customized to fulfill members’ professional development needs, include a Cessna G-1000 Ground School and a Federal Emergency Management Agency course on joint information center planning; discussions of government relations and fundraising initiatives; a two-day academy aimed for public information and public affairs officers; and daylong classes for both current and future wing commanders and leaders of cadets.

Learning Labs
In addition, 66 learning labs are set for Aug. 24-25. The seminars, led by CAP national staff and other experts, will focus on such topics as operations, communications, safety, logistics, aircraft operations, professional development and leadership, fundraising, recruitment and retention, the chaplaincy, CAP history, information technology, cadet programs and aerospace education.