Civil Air Patrol

Camaraderie and Good Cheer

One thing you discover when getting to know Civil Air Patrol’s World War II heroes: They were having the time of their lives back then.  Perhaps the past always looks brighter. Perhaps their unique adventure was their Golden Age. All I know is, they were all proud to serve and do their part for the war effort.
 
Researching World War II CAP, I found this esprit de corps obvious in the faces depicted in vintage photography. It was evident in the goofing around at the base lunch counter. It was reflected in the smiles of flying buddies. It could be seen in the grim determination of others preparing for a mission.
 
This camaraderie lasted for decades, although most early CAP members never expected their exploits to be remembered beyond their own group.
 
The one place it was most celebrated was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where CAP had protected oil tankers and freighters sailing to and from Philadelphia. 
 
After the war, veterans of Coastal Patrol Base 2 gathered there annually for more than six decades each September. They were often joined by vets from nearby Coastal Patrol Base 1 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, by veterans of other Coastal Patrol bases and even a World War II German submariner who had settled in Washington, D.C!
 
In later decades, the event was supported by Roger Theil, a former cadet and independent CAP historian from Washington. Theil worked for years to celebrate the CAP story in writing, photos and an annual lecture at the massive national EAA AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
 
In more recent years, the sons of CP Base 2 flyer Glen Cook have partnered with Theil to keep the event robust, even as the last of Base 2 vets left the scene. 
 
It was quite a group, including Air Medal winner Eddie Edwards. CAP top brass often attended to show that these heroes -- and their compatriots elsewhere -- were not forgotten.  
 
I will always remember the good humor and camaraderie of these flyers. And I will never forget their remarkable modesty, even as scores of well-wishers and CAP leaders gathered each year in Rehoboth to sing their praises. 
 
They were, in this, so typical of America’s “Greatest Generation.”
 

(1)
Lunch time at Base 3 in Lantana, Florida.

(2) 
Subchasers Ed Phipps (left) and Glen Cook at Base 2 in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
 
 

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© 2018 Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters. All rights reserved.