Civil Air Patrol

Calif. Wing's Pilot Honored For CAP Wartime Service

Newly promoted Col. Steve Patti now, after being honored with CAP’s Distinguished Service Award, and then, photographed in 1943 by a fellow 12th Task Force Anti-Submarine Patrol member in Brownsville, Texas.| Photo on left by Kathy Barnholdt

Capt. Aaron P. Yanagihara
Norcal Group 5
Public Affairs Officer
California Wing

CALIFORNIA – Col. Steve Patti was saluted Saturday for his World War II service as a Civil Air Patrol member with promotion to his new rank and with one of the organization’s highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award, as well the Lifetime Membership Award.

In all, 62 CAP members, guests and family members were on hand at the Aerospace Museum of California at McClellan Park to see Col. Jon Stokes, California Wing commander, promote Patti and present him with the prestigious awards.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes CAP members for conspicuous performance of outstanding service in a duty of great responsibility where the position held and results obtained reflect on the organization’s accomplishments and prestige on a national scale.

Patti joined CAP in January 1942 and was stationed at Vail Field in Los Angeles. That June he was assigned to the 12th Task Force Anti-Submarine Patrol in Brownsville and San Benito, Texas, as an aircraft mechanic. He also flew as a replacement observer on convoy escort, anti-submarine, beach and border patrols.

Col. Jon Stokes, California Wing commander, pins on Col. Steve Patti’s Distinguished Service Medal as Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Kaita (left) and Cadet 1st Lt. Anthony Smith of the Eugene L. Carhanan Cadet Squadron 85 Honor Guard stand by. Photo by Kathy Barnholdt

In October 1943 the 12th Task Force was deactivated, and Patti was reassigned to CAP’s Southern Liaison Border Patrol No. 2 Auxiliary Air Base in Marfa, Texas. His duties there included serving as an aircraft mechanic and replacement observer.

In March 1944, then a master sergeant, he was reassigned to Main Southern Liaison Base No. 2 at Anderson/Biggs Field in El Paso, Texas, with similar duties. Two month later that base was also deactivated, and he was reassigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer on B-17 and B-25 bombers.

After being discharged in June 1946 Patti rejoined CAP. He was subsequently appointed to the rank of lieutenant and has since flown numerous air search and rescue missions as a pilot in California. He holds a commercial pilot’s license, is a certified flight instructor and holds ratings for single- and multi-engine land, single-engine sea and instrument and glider pilot.

“I have many people to thank today and many people to thank from the past,” Patti, now a California Aerospace Academy Composite Squadron member, told those gathered for the ceremony. “There were a lot of people involved in what I was involved in; they went out every day and risked their life.

Col. Steve Patti receives his new grade insignia from Maj. Joyce Pennybaker, Norcal Group 5 commander, and Col. Jon Stokes, as Cadet 1st Lt. Anthony Smith (left) and Cadet Capt. Evan Yanagihara of the Eugene L. Carhanan Cadet Squadron 85 Honor Guard stand at attention. Photo by Capt. Aaron Yanagihara, California Wing

“I went out on these missions as an observer, and never once did I ever hear anyone complain.

“I am here today, and in my thoughts I feel qualified to say ‘thank you’ for the other people I served with on submarine patrol. They risked their lives too and deserve the same appreciation and recognition that you bestow upon me today.

“I am here today because CAP gave me the opportunity when I was 18 to join, learn a trade as a mechanic, getting my mechanic’s license certified by the United States government. I was able to earn a living as a mechanic due to the availability that CAP gave to me, and I have never forgotten that.”



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© 2019 Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters. All rights reserved.