Pearl Harbor propelled the United States into World War II, but many Americans saw the AXIS threat long before Dec. 7, 1941. Among them were nearly 150,000 men and women involved in aviation.
As early as 1938, they began to argue for the creation of an organization to harness their aviation resources to aid the nation in the event America entered the conflict. Their efforts, led by writer-aviator Gill Robb Wilson and supported by Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, resulted in the creation of the Civil Air Patrol on Dec. 1, 1941 - one week before Pearl Harbor.
First organized under the Office of Civilian Defense, headed by former New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Civil Air Patrol members became the "Minutemen" of World War II, volunteering their time, resources, and talents to defend the nation's borders and fill the gaps as men and resources were being mobilized to fight abroad.
The War Department, especially the Army Air Forces, recognized the important roles performed by CAP. In April 1943, CAP was reassigned from the Office of Civilian Defense to the War Department and placed under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces.