Civil Air Patrol

Prominent Members

Civil Air Patrol's World War II ranks included a number of nationally prominent individuals:
 
  • Mary Astor, a prominent Hollywood actress best known for her role in "The Maltese Falcon" and for winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "The Great Lie." After joining CAP in Los Angeles, she helped set up the operations center at Coastal Patrol Base 12 in Brownsville, Texas. 
  • Willa Brown, the first African-American woman to earn a private pilot’s license and to hold a commercial pilot’s license in the U.S. She and her husband owned the Coffey School of Aeronautics at Chicago’s Harlem Airport, which trained black pilots and aviation mechanics, including future Tuskegee Airmen. She also co-founded the National Airmen’s Association of America in 1939, working to get black aviation cadets into the U.S. military. Brown was CAP’s first African-American officer, receiving the rank of lieutenant in 1942.
     
  • I.W. Burnham II, who in 1935 founded the Wall Street firm of Burnham & Co., which eventually became Drexel Burnham Lambert. Burnham served as commander of CAP’s Coastal Patrol Base 4 in Parksley, Va., and he received the U.S. Air Medal and Distinguished Civilian Service Award Medal.
  • Bob Cummings, a noted Hollywood actor who starred in such films as “The Devil and Miss Jones,” “Kings Row” and “Dial M for Murder” and later in the TV situation comedy “The Bob Cummings Show.” Cumming flew missions starting in early 1942 as a charter member of what’s now the California Wing’s San Fernando Senior Squadron 35 before joining the U.S. Army Air Forces.
  • Gail Halvorsen, the U.S. Air Force’s “Uncle Wiggly Wings,” famed for dropping chocolate to deprived children on the Soviet-controlled side of Berlin during the 1948 Berlin Airlift. Halvorsen joined CAP’s Utah Wing in 1941, flying search and rescue missions when hikers and skiers went missing, then enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943. 
  • Jose Iturbi, a world-famous pianist and harpsichordist who also appeared in several Hollywood films in the 1940s, playing himself in such movies as “Thousands Cheer” and “Anchors Aweigh.” An experienced pilot, he joined CAP on Jan. 12, 1942, in New York because at 46 he was too old for the Army Air Corps. Iturbi was commissioned as a major and later promoted to lieutenant colonel.
  • Henry King Jr., a noted Hollywood director from 1915-1961, helming such movies as “The Song of Bernadette,” “Twelve O’Clock High,” “Carousel” and “The Sun Also Rises.” He was one of the 36 founders of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. King served as deputy commander of Coastal Patrol Base 12 in Texas. 
  • Zack Mosley, the famed comic strip artist best known for the long-running feature “The Adventures of Smilin’ Jack” from 1933-1973, which frequently featured CAP and the Coastal Patrol in strips. Mosley flew CAP anti-submarine missions while serving at Coastal Patrol Base 3 in Lantana, Fla., receiving the U.S. Air Medal. He also served as Florida Wing public affairs officer. 
  • Ruth Rowland Nichols, a pioneering female aviator who set world records for speed, altitude and distance and was the first woman licensed to fly a seaplane and as a commercial airline pilot and the first woman to fly nonstop from New York to Miami and to attempt a solo transatlantic crossing. Nichols joined CAP during World War II, eventually attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. 
     
  • Meinhardt Raabe, the Munchkin coroner in “The Wizard of Oz,” pronouncing the Wicked Witch of the East “not only merely dead, she’s really, most sincerely dead.” Raabe joined CAP during World War II because, at 4-foot-7, he was 2 inches too short for the military. As a member of the Michigan and Illinois wings, he  flew CAP missions for the Coast Guard and Fire Service, whose own pilots had gone off to war. 
     
  • Vernon Rudolph, the founder of Krispy Kreme Donuts Inc. in 1947 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Rudolph flew for CAP’s Coastal Patrol Base 16 in Manteo, N.C.
  • Lester L. Wolff, who served as a U.S. representative for New York in the House from 1965-1980, co-founding CAP’s Congressional Squadron in 1966. Wolff served in the New York Wing as a squadron commander and subchaser.  
  • Richard L. Yuengling Sr., the fourth co-president and manager of D.G. Yuengling and Son, the oldest brewery in the U.S. that’s still active today. Yuengling flew for Coastal Patrol Base 4 in Virginia, receiving the Air Medal for service from July 28, 1942-Aug. 31, 1943.
 
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CAP National Headquarters
105 South Hansell Street, Building 714
Maxwell Air Force Base, AL 36112
877-227-9142

Julie DeBardelaben
Deputy Director, Public Affairs
334-549-2224 (cell)

Steve Cox
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334-296-5881 (cell)
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© 2018 Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters. All rights reserved.
© 2018 Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters. All rights reserved.