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When It All Began: Dec. 1 or Dec. 8 ... or Both?

Natl. Historian Looks at Founding Documents

Last week, as it does every year, Civil Air Patrol observed Dec. 1 as the anniversary of its founding in 1941. At the same time, Dec. 8 also has a claim to that distinction.

The matter involves two documents from CAP’s very earliest days.

The first was printed on federal Office of Civilian Defense letterhead and signed Dec. 1, 1941, by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, that office’s director. The letter includes the statement “I do hereby order established under the Office of Civilian Defense, the Civil Air Patrol.”

(The document itself has not been located, though it’s reproduced on Page 3 of the booklet “Civil Air Patrol – Organization, Purpose, Program, Enlistment,” sent out for publication on Dec. 1.)

A week later – on Dec. 8, while Washington and the rest of the nation were still reeling from the previous day’s attack on Pearl Harbor – LaGuardia signed his office’s Administrative Order, No. 9. That order declares: “I have caused to be created and organized a branch of this Office of volunteers for the purpose of enlisting and training personnel to aid in the national defense of the United States, designated as the Civil Air Patrol.”

Col. Frank Blazich, CAP national historian, examines the situation in detail and takes a look at the relevant documents.