LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- There is a group of volunteers who work everything from natural disasters to missing aircrafts. Many people across the country may not know much about them, but they have a big impact in the area. That civilian volunteer organization is Civil Air Patrol or CAP.
“We'll stick out. A lot of times people don't realize the difference,” said Lieutenant Colonel Bobby Allison, Squadron Commander for the 42nd Composite Squadron.
Civil Air Patrol is under the wing of the United States Air Force, but they are volunteers. It formed just seven days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I joined originally as a Cadet when I was 13 years old,” said Lt. Col. Allison.
16-year-old 1st Sergeant of the 42nd Composite Squadron, Joshua James, also joined as a Cadet.
“I want to get into the Air Force Academy and I want to serve in the Air Force for 25 years. What I'm hoping that this will do is give me leadership skills so when I first get to the academy they'll already see something different in me,” said 1st Sgt. James.
Search and rescues, homeland security missions, aerospace education, and aerial photography are all just some of the things CAP does.
The organization also has training for their assignments. In one example of a training, the group searched for a missing aircraft. They get the coordinates and commands, head to their planes, and the search begins. Even though it is practice, it prepares them for the real thing. CAP also helps out other organizations.
“We help FEMA and the local state agencies who we work very closely with here in Arkansas and every state,” said Lt. Col. Allison.
Some of the work they do includes tornado damage in the state, even helping with Hurricane Harvey relief. They always need volunteers. Operations roles, aircrews, pilots, ground jobs, and everything else.
“It's a way I'm able to serve in a volunteer status and give back to my country,” said Allison.
“Being underneath Civil Air Patrol is one of the greatest honors that I have and it's amazing to wear this type of uniform,” said James.
The minimum age to join CAP is 12-years-old for their Cadet program. For more information, visit their website.