The CAP Cadet Program's 75th anniversary emblem.
Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, Civil Air Patrol’s national commander, this morning launched CAP’s observation of the 75th anniversary of its Cadet Program in speaking to the Command Council in Arlington, Virginia.
The program traces its beginnings to a memo that CAP national leadership issued Oct. 1, 1942, declaring that any existing squadron could form a counterpart cadet unit for high school juniors and seniors, male and female, aged 15-18. CAP itself was founded Dec. 1, 1941, six days before Pearl Harbor.
“It was initially established to prepare teenagers for military service,” Vazquez said. Accordingly, cadet training included preflight skills, military law, drill and ceremonies, first aid, Morse code and signals.
After the war, the program expanded its focus to focus on leadership and a wide variety of programs that evolved to reflect advances in technology, societal developments and other aspects of a changing world – a process that continues today, Vazquez said. “CAP’s leadership, recognizing that the cadets are our future, has remained forward-thinking in regard to the needs and interests of our youngest members, and has responded by emphasizing flight training, leadership development, aerospace education, character education, physical fitness and more than 30 specialized training activities, which even include international air cadet exchanges,” he said.
Today’s cadets range in age from 12 and 21 and number nearly 24,000.
“The success stories associated with the more than a million youth who have participated in CAP’s Cadet Program are endless and have touched literally every aspect of America society,” the national commander said. He cited such former cadets as:
- Olympic medalist Clifton Cushman.
- Former astronauts Eric Boe, Frank Borman and Dr. John Phillips.
- U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Nichole Malachowski, Samantha Weeks and Kevin Walsh.
- F-16 pilot Maj. Shawna Kimbrell.
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Lee Levy, commander, Air Force Sustainment Center.
- Rear Adm. Deborah A. Loewer, one of the first women assigned to shipboard duty in the U.S. Navy.
- Tuskegee Airmen George Boyd and Wallace Higgins.
- Retired Army Gen. and former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Julius Becton.
- U.S. Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Mike Rounds of South Dakota.
- Retired Air Force four-star Gen. Mike Ryan, former Air Force chief of staff.
- Neurologist Tara Mach Cook.
- Sean Fuller, director of the NASA Human Space Flight Programs in Russia.
- Noted aviation artist Rick Broome.
- Brig. Gen. Rich Anderson, a delegate in the Virginia General Assembly and the first former cadet to serve as CAP national commander.
Vazquez joined CAP as a Georgia Wing cadet in 1975, rising to the rank of cadet major before transitioning to the senior member program in 1978.
“I am proud of my cadet roots and to be associated with this prestigious group of outstanding Americans whose journey through life has been guided by their time in Civil Air Patrol,” he said. “To every cadet and former cadet here and to all of them across the nation, I congratulate you as we kick off the yearlong celebration of the Cadet Program’s 75th anniversary.
“I also congratulate all of the members of CAP who have worked over the past 7½ decades to ensure the Cadet Program’s success. Together, we have generated and continue to produce the nation’s finest American citizens and aerospace leaders,” he added.
“I encourage every region, wing and squadron to make celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Cadet Program the theme for all conferences and other key events throughout the rest of this year,” Vazquez said.