Unbeknownst to many, there is a small squadron at Luke Air Force Base with the sole purpose of helping the base in unconventional ways. From helping work the Airman’s Attic to serving food to crew chiefs at the flightline feast, these volunteers donate their time and energy to help the Air Force however they can.
Since 1941 the Civil Air Patrol has used the valuable assets their members bring to help the Air Force and other agencies perform their missions.
“The CAP has three focuses,” said Cindy Beck, Arizona CAP wing public affairs officer. “They are aerospace education, the cadet program and emergency services, and each is equally important.”
Aerospace education is designed to provide a general knowledge of all aerospace activities along with an appreciation of how these activities impact society. The cadet program fosters leadership and good citizenship in America’s youth using aerospace education, Air Force role models and emphasis on public service. Cadets may participate in a variety of activities, gain rank and increased recognition in the program. They can also receive benefits for participation should they choose to enter military service. Last, the emergency services mission is to save lives and relieve human suffering.
All three missions support or increase awareness of the Air Force, but the cadet program and emergency services have the most impact on the lives of Airmen at Luke.
“We do many volunteer activities on base,” said the Luke CAP squadron commander Lt. Col. Michael Hoza, 356th Squadron commander. “We are a volunteer force of mostly cadets ages 12 to 18. We also have a few senior members who volunteer at retiree appreciation day, traffic control at the air show or at other base events. We do a lot of our volunteer work with the chapel.”
These volunteer activities and weekly meetings help the cadets build leadership qualities that can be useful later in life.
“Some of our cadets take what we teach them and enlist in the military,” Hoza said. “Some go to ROTC programs in college; others take what they’ve learned into the civilian world. The ones who enlist in the Air Force get advancement in rank to E-3 upon completing basic training.”
The CAP also works hand-in-hand with the Air Force during times of emergency.
“CAP does 90 percent of inland search and rescue on assigned missions by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center,” Beck said. “We perform the search with our planes and vehicles, which are corporate assets. During SAR missions, we function as the official Air Force Auxiliary as chartered by Congress in December 1941 before the attack on Pearl Harbor.”
The CAP is a national program with a structure like the Air Force with wings, groups, squadrons and so forth. They are here to help support their cadets and the Air Force and are willing to volunteer for almost anything.
“We are always available to volunteer,” Hoza said. “We want to be good neighbors and volunteering is how we do that on a day-to-day basis.”