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Civil Air Patrol at the 117th

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kasie Faddis
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing

Since the early 1990’s, the Civil Air Patrol’s 117th Air National Guard Composite Squadron, Charter ALA 090, has been a part of Sumpter Smith Joint National Guard Base in Birmingham, Alabama. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. It is a volunteer organization that includes members from all backgrounds and ages.

Thad Mullins is currently serving as the ALA 090 CAP Squadron Commander, an instrument flight instructor, and pilot. Mullins has been part of CAP for over 14 years.

“The role is search and rescue, and disaster relief. Those two things kind of go together. Almost all the land-based search and rescue in the United States is done by Civil Air Patrol,” said Mullins. “We do ground search and rescue also, not just flying. We also do hurricane relief, and we have one of two or three airborne photographers in the state.” 

Michael Phillips is a senior member who began as a cadet when the squadron was first joined to the 117th Air Refueling Wing (ARW). He is also a flight instructor, pilot, and former member of the 117th ARW Intelligence Squadron. Another senior member is Ray Hara, an instrument flight instructor and aerial photographer. Hara has been a part of CAP at the 117th Composite Squadron for 28 years.

“The cadets are exposed to the military uniform, customs and courtesies, and so forth. They are involved in a mission and they have a role,” Phillips said. “Cadets are frequently being involved in ground teams where they may be called and asked to search for somebody who is lost, a plane that has crashed, or have other roles for disaster relief.”

The CAP has aircraft stationed all over the state of Alabama and at one point there were 13 Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadrons in the state alone.
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