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The Civil Air Patrol and World War II off North Carolina’s Coast

On August 10, 1942, pilots from North Carolina’s first Civil Air Patrol (CAP) base at Skyco on Roanoke Island began making patrols.

North Carolina’s notorious “Torpedo Junction” spurred officials to establish a CAP base near the coast. Aircraft from the base patrolled the area from Norfolk to Ocracoke Inlet. The Navy and Coast Guard also used CAP aircraft to escort convoys along the coast, survey and chart wrecks that might pose risks to navigation and conduct search and rescue missions.

As the federal and state governments began to see the value in the CAP, a second coastal patrol base was established in Beaufort in 1943. Although critically underfunded, North Carolina’s two coastal patrol bases provided vital support for military operations.

While North Carolina’s Civil Air Patrol bases were in operation during World War II, only two vessels were torpedoed off of the coast. The civilian airmen assisted military pilots in effectively blockading Torpedo Junction. Service in the CAP was voluntary and did not carry draft deferment. Participating aviators received pay for their time and equipment use when performing official services such as patrol or courier duty.

Today the Civil Air Patrol continues to conduct search and rescue operations and provide disaster relief and emergency services.

Read more in North Carolina and the Two World Wars from N.C. Historical Publications.

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