Civil Air Patrol dynamic mission in homeland security

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
The operations of the Civil Air Patrol started 78 years ago in 1941 on Dec. 1, and their mission continues as the U.S. Air Force’s official auxiliary force with detachments across the nation.

In its early days the CAP’s primary objective was the establishment of patrols off of the Atlantic and Gulf coast. The objective of these missions was to thwart enemy actions during World War II. In the late 1900’s their aircraft would go on to be seen helping the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency by organizing disaster relief efforts.

Today the CAP supports America's communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and the promotion of air, space and cyber power.

Here in Columbus, Miss., the Golden Triangle Composite Squadron has worked closely with the base by providing search and rescues as well as other emergency services over the years.

“In support of the base the GTC Squadron provides low level route surveys every year where we look for unchartered towers or airfields and compare it to the maps Columbus AFB pilots are flying with to make sure things are up to date,” said Lt. Col. Philip Poeppelman, 14th Flying Training Wing Inspector General complaints resolution director.

Poeppelman currently works as the GTC Squadron commander managing the fleet. However, he has also participated in missions like the aerial reconnaissance for the T-38 crash back in May, 2019.

Furthermore the CAP provides Cadet Programs where young future leaders can grow and develop through aerospace education, leadership training, emergency services and physical training.

By providing future leaders the Mississippi Wing’s Golden Triangle Composite Squadron works hand in hand with Columbus AFB’s mission by cultivating American Youth’s, creating potential interest in becoming a pilot and connecting with members across the base.

Rufus Ward, honorary commander of the 43rd Flying Training Squadron, has family history with the CAP and shared how his mother, Ida Ward, had the distinction of being the first female to solo in the Columbus CAP unit.

In 1942-1945, Ida worked at the Kaye Army Air Field Station Hospital on Columbus Army Air Field during World War II and volunteered for the Civil Air Patrol to fly in a Piper Cub, which was a small single-engine two-seat plane that had a top air speed of about 85 mph.

During this time CAP male and female volunteers engaged in a range of operations such as patrols, search and rescue, disaster relief and aircraft warnings.

Ward stated he did not hear many stories from his mother about her days in the CAP, but he did know about her last flight as a volunteer.

“When she was dispatched to Birmingham, Alabama, in a Piper Cub she got stuck in a lengthy holding pattern over the Birmingham airport with several large four-engine aircraft,” Ward said. “She described how her little plane seemed lost and bouncing around among the larger planes in her formation so she proceeded back to Columbus where she ended her volunteer work for CAP.”

Since Ida, many CAP volunteers have taken it upon themselves to continue emergency services in the air and on the ground for the past 78 years to protect and serve the American public.

For more information about CAP or how to become a member please contact the Golden Triangle Composite Squadron commander at