Hero Next Door was published in 1974. It might seem to be wildly out of date and in some ways it is. But I was looking for background information on Civil Air Patrol.
1. Its early history, and
2. how it operated in 1973-1975 when I was a young CAP cadet.
In addition to contemporaneous CAP Nodak Wingspan newsletters, this book allowed me to relive some of the activities from my youth. When I was a young cadet I knew but a fraction of what CAP was about and what it could do for me. I was too young to understand the opportunities that were available, even though I was made aware of them on almost a weekly basis.
Brunham wrote a very matter-of-fact book. But it did have some clues where to find further information: Magazines, Reports, and old CAP Instruction Manuals.
The most surprising think I learned from the book was the F-M Squadron was not that unique. There are hundreds of Cadet Squadrons all over the United States and each had interesting stories to tell. And yet they all were similar. CAP was like a secret club that offered its members far more than anyone realized. It’s probably still true today. Civil Air Patrol
Table of Contents, and Excerpts
Chapter 1, That Others May Live
Chapter 2, The War Years
Even though a major conflict was shaping up in Europe, the tug-of-war continued here at home between the proponents of air power and our military “old guard.” The great hopes for a real air force excited by the men of the GHQAF and the advent of the then-experimental four-engine B–17 were frustrated for most of the period between 1935 and 1939. Of the types of planes the Army Air Corps had on hand as of September 1, 1939, only one, the B–17, flew as first line after Pearl Harbor and there were only 23 of those. The B–24 was hardly off the drawing boards. The B–18 was the standard bomber, the A–17 was the standard attack plane and the P–36 was standard fighter. These three standard models comprised 700 of the 800 first-line aircraft on hand and they all were obsolete. To maintain and support these planes, there were 26,000 officers, cadets and enlisted men in the Air Corps, only 2,000 of them pilots and 2,600 mechanics.
By comparison, the German Luftwaffe had from 50,000 to 75,000 aircrewmen and a total strength of more than a half million. Even Great Britain had more than 100,000 military airmen. In first-line aircraft the Germans had 4,100 and the British had 1,900 compared to our 800. Thus, it was in the period from 1939 to Pearl Harbor that the civil airmen of the United States found reason to be concerned. They knew that they comprised the only immediately available resource to bulwark the ranks of our almost nonexistent air force when the gauntlet finally was thrown down.
Chapter 3, REDCAP!
In the first place, any old-timer to the search game will tell you, “Don’t expect to find anything that resembles an aircraft, most wrecks look like hastily discarded trash.” Then, they describe the six basic types of crashes this way:
- Hole-in-the-ground, from steep dives into the ground or from flying straight into steep hillsides or canyon walls. Wreckage is confined to a small circular area around a deep high-walled crater.
- Cork screw or sugar: from uncontrolled spins. Wreckage is considerably broken up and scattered about in a small area. There are curved ground scars around a shallow crater.
- Creaming or smear: from low-level buzzing or flat-hatting; from instrument flight, or attempted crash landing. Wreckage distribution is long and narrow with heavier components farthest away from the initial point of impact.
- The four winds: from mid-air collisions or explosions. Wreckage components are broken up and scattered over a wide area along the flight path.
- Hedge-trimming: where an aircraft strikes a high mountain ridge or obstruction but continues on for a considerable distance before crashing.
- Splash: where aircraft has gone down into water, oil slicks, foam and small bits of floating debris are apparent for a few hours alter impact. With time the foam dissipates, the oil slicks spread and streak and the debris becomes widely separated due to action of wind and currents.
What are CAP observers trained to look for? Not airplanes, at least not airplanes that look like airplanes. Instead, they are trained to “see” light colored or shiny objects, smoke, blackened areas, broken tree branches, local discoloration in foliage, fresh bare earth, breaks in cultivated field patterns, oil slicks in water, excessive bubbles in water, discolored water or snow, flashes of sunlight on metal and, of course, personnel and signals where the pilot and passengers have been lucky.
Chapter 4, I Came Here To Thank You For My Life!
Meder’s story and his visit to Washington where the Civil Air Patrol was reporting to the Congress is most appropriate to this historical overview of CAP’s first 30-odd years of public service for it underlies the unique status of this nonprofit benevolent organization-one of less than 60 holding a charter granted by the Congress and the only one also established by law as the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
Chapter 5, CAP And The Air Force
Chapter 6, CAPCOM
Chapter 7, Samaritans With Wings
Chapter 8, Blueprint For The Future
Chapter 9, CAP And The ‘Bug’
Chapter 10, CAP Spells ‘Help!’
National Geographic article “Minutemen of the Civil Air Patrol” by Allen C. Fisher, Jr. May 1956 reprint page 637–665.
Chapter 11, People! The In CAP
Chapter 12, The Eagle’s Nest
“Your Aerospace World” 1974 CAP Cadet Program, replaced seven existing texts.
The late 1960s and the early 1970s were difficult years for the Civil Air Patrol cadet program. Traditionally one of the strongest segments of CAP’s overall effort, the organization encountered significant problems not only with recruiting new cadets, but with retaining those recruited through completion. This was due in a large measure to the general antipathy of the American public toward the military and thus the uniform when articulation against the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia was at its height. Many also point to changing customs and modes of dress on the part of young men and women-their penchant for the prime symbol of rebellion, long hair- as a factor. Obviously, CAP’s short, military-styled haircut for males and the “off-the-shoulders” style for females is incompatible with the shoulder-length tresses effected by many young men and the waist-length so popular with young women during this period. Also, incompatible was a general tendency toward a new casualness of dress, a tendency that many parents put down as “just plain sloppiness.”
In retrospect, however, it appears that antipathy toward the military and resistance to CAP’s dress and appearance codes were not as significant as a trend within the Civil Air Patrol toward an imbalance in emphasis between activities and academics.
It is undeniable that the public attitude toward the military during the final months of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, changing codes of dress and deportment among our teenagers and the internal perturbations in the CAP cadet program between 1968 and 1973 took their toll. As the Civil Air Patrol neared the mid-point in the decade of the ’70s, cadet retention continued to be a serious problem. Recruiting, however, improved. Outwardly there were encouraging signs. Young people, by and large, were turning back toward traditional American values and principles. Except for the dyed-in-the-wool nonconformists, young men and women also began to effect more conservative modes of dress. The differences between contemporary dress standards and those required of a military-oriented organization continued to narrow. You might say that more and more young Americans were taking up Cliff Cushman’s challenge.
Simultaneously, Civil Air Patrol leadership began taking steps to resolve the problem of program imbalance. Under the leadership of General Westberg and General Patterson, renewed attention has been directed toward insuring that cadets are afforded greater opportunity for participation in the traditional operational missions of the Civil Air Patrol. Establishment of composite squadrons- those having both active cadet and senior elements- was urged. In such units there are a sufficient number of senior members to more effectively counsel cadets and provide the opportunity for participation in action oriented activities relevant to CAP’s basic objectives. In the national evaluation criteria, new weight was placed on providing regular orientation flights for cadets and more importance was placed on cadets completing the orientation full program and achieving the Spaatz Award as opposed to awarding maximum recognition on the basis of in-step accomplishment of the 15 achievements that make up the cadet program’s four phases-the beginning phase, the learning phase, the leadership phase and the executive phase. Finally, the underlying weakness in the program was pinpointed the quality of leadership at the unit level. An all-out effort was initiated to bring into the Civil Air Patrol a sufficient number of men and women who at one and the same time represented the degree of motivation necessary as well as those special attributes which make a leader.
At last report that effort already had begun paying dividends.
Chapter 13, Getting Out The Word
Programmed learning exercises in subject areas like “How To Study”, “Aerospace Education Defined”, and “Job Analysis Training” have been developed.
Chapter 14, CAP Is A Big Business
Chapter 15, Where Do We Go From Here?
“Everywhere I go across the country,” Patterson observes, “each squadron is run differently. Their commanders each have different philosophies and a different picture of what CAP is all about. One of the things we must have is a standardized squadron commander in this program. We already have a major effort under way to achieve this goal in the new Squadron Commander’s Handbook and the pocket-sized Squadron Commander’s Guide.”