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Group 4 History

Group 4 History

In the late 1930s, more than 150,000 volunteers with a love for aviation argued for an organization to put their planes and flying skills to use in defense of their country. As a result, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was born one week prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  

Thousands of volunteer members answered America's call to national service and sacrifice by accepting and performing critical wartime missions. Assigned to the War Department under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps, the contributions of Civil Air Patrol, including logging more than 500,000 flying hours, sinking two enemy submarines, and saving hundreds of crash victims during World War II, are well documented.

Pennsylvania Wing (PA Wing or PAWG) is one of the original 48 wings in Civil Air Patrol.

In the spring of 1942, the Pennsylvania Wing conducted a 30-day experiment with the intention of convincing the Army Air Forces that they were capable of flying cargo missions for the nation. Top Army officials were impressed when PA Wing transported Army cargo as far as Georgia. After the 30-day trial period, the War Department gave CAP permission to conduct courier and cargo service for the military, often flying mail, light cargo, and important military officials between USAAF bases.

One of the Civil Air Patrol's very first "Aviation Cadet Programs" was established at the Pittsburgh Army Airfield in the Spring of 1943. Accepting young men as "Aviation Cadets" in a delayed enlistment program for the Army Air Forces, the Pittsburgh Squadron trained these boys (as young as 15) in Aerospace and Military subjects and vetted them for service as Army Air Force Pilots. Graduating a total of 16 Aviation Cadets for the Army in less than ten months, the Pittsburgh Squadron model was copied by units in Philadelphia, New York City and as far south as Florida. Today, the current Squadron with direct lineage to that Aviation Cadet Unit is the CAP's second longest, continually operated unit on a Military Installation.

After the war, a thankful nation understood that Civil Air Patrol could continue providing valuable services to both local and national agencies. On July 1, 1946, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 476 incorporating Civil Air Patrol as a benevolent, nonprofit organization.

On May 26, 1948, Congress passed Public Law 557 permanently establishing Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force. Three primary mission areas were set forth at that time: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.

Re-Organization of the PA Wing Group Administration

Over the years since 1941, the PA Wing grew into 16 separate groups and in Fall of 1995, the former Group structure consisting of Groups 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500, and 1600 were consolidated into just three (3) Groups: 1, 2, and 3. 

At 46,055 square miles, Pennsylvania is a very large state to administer and make routine visits to the squadrons with just 3 groups, and it soon became apparent that the number of groups would need to grow to six (6) groups: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 to facilitate the routine administration of the 56 local squadrons in PA Wing.

Group 4 encompasses portions of the former old Groups 10, 20, 80, and 90, and is spread out geographically from Lower Bucks County and the Delaware River across from New Jersey to the Northern border with New York State. This large 14-county 7,648 square mile area has three (3) CAP mission bases with host squadrons based at Doylestown Airport (DYL), Quakertown Airport (UKT), and Luzerne County Airport (WBW). In addition to the mission bases, we have Squadrons located in Scranton, Mount Pocono, Lehigh Valley, Braden/Bangor, Croydon, and Hilltown. 

The Hilltown Squadron is a senior squadron without cadets. This unit’s specialty mission is to conduct the yearly NFA-Northeast Region Glider Flight Academy where cadets are instructed to solo in a glider. In addition, they offer glider ground school and provide opportunities for additional glider flights throughout the Summer months.

Nationally we have 560 aircraft, and here in PA we have 12-Cessna C-172, and C-182 aircraft with 3 aircraft based in Group 4 at the mission bases. Priority for flights is operations support, as well as orientation flights for CAP Cadets, JROTC cadets, and ROTC members. Flight training for cadets, as well as upgrade and currency flights are usually covered for the members at minimal or no cost.


Group 90 / 3 / 4 Commanders

  • Lt Col Joseph Pelletier (Group 90) 1964-1971

  • Lt Col Jay Albright (Group 90) 1971-1978

  • Lt Col Sylvan F. Handley (Group 90) 1978-1988

  • Lt Col Richard J. Luce, Jr (Group 90) 1988-1991

  • Major Einar Olsen (Group 90) 1991-1993

  • Lt Col Richard J. Luce, Jr (Group 90) 1993-1995

  • Lt Col Willa J. Hayes (Group 90) 1995

  • Group 90 Deactivated and Group 3 Activated - 1995

  • Lt Col Stephen Fortin (Group 3) 1995-1998

  • Lt Col Eugene Egry (Group 3) 1998-2002

  • Lt Col Patricia J Devlin (Group 3) 2002-2005

  • Three groups expanded to six Groups / Group 4 Activated - 2005

  • Lt Col Bret Stemrich (Group 4) 2005-2007

  • Lt Col Jeff Buchman (Group 4) 2007-2010

  • Captain Frank Arnold (Group 4) 2010-2012 

  • Lt Col Bret Stemrich (Group 4) 2012-2015

  • Major Heather Weaver (Group 4) 2015-2018

  • Major Patrick J. O’Brien (Group 4) 2018-2020

  • Major John T. Quinn (Group 4) 2020-Present

Recent Emergency Services Highlights 

  • During the September 11, 2001 attacks, Group 4 and Pennsylvania Wing were ordered to a stand-by state. Although not officially tasked with any missions in direct support, PAWG radio communications centers were operational and prepared to help. 

  • As an outgrowth of 9-11, Group 4 and PA Wing flies monthly air intercept training Fertile Keynote missions with USAF / Air National Guard F-16 crews as interdiction practice in support of Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR). A fertile keynote is a term used to describe practice these intercept missions. The USAF / Air National Guard has been exercising its aerospace control mission since the events of 9/11.

  • In August 2005, Thirty-one (31) Members from Pennsylvania Wing Civil Air Patrol, including Group 4, traveled 28 hours to Pascagoula, Mississippi to aid in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. PAWG Ground Teams went door-to-door ensuring that local residents had adequate food, water, and medical care.

  • In 2006, PA Wing was activated to fly reconnaissance missions during the 2006 flood. PAWG aircraft flew over major waterways to provide detailed photographs of flood-affected areas and to monitor floodwaters as they moved downstream. CAP and Group 4 performs highly specialized aerial imagery for disaster damage assessment and more to support local, state, and national agencies.

  • During the time between September 1, 2010 to December 1, 2011, the Pennsylvania Wing saved eleven lives, provided emergency response in Pennsylvania during the 2011 flooding and severe winter storms.

  • In August and September 2011, all CAP emergency service teams in Pennsylvania Wing and CAP members from Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana Wings were activated to assist communities affected by Hurricane Irene (2011) and Tropical Storm Lee (2011).

  • In November 2012, CAP Pennsylvania Wing and Group 4 emergency services air crews and ground teams were activated to assist communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware during flooding and high wind of Hurricane Sandy.

  • During Late December 2017 and early January 2018, CAP Pennsylvania Wing emergency services ground teams were sent to help dig out Erie Pennsylvania.

  • In June 2016 the U.S. Air Force and the Civil Air Patrol formally realigned CAP-USAF from the Air Education and Training Command to Air Combat Command. "Civil Air Patrol is an important aerospace education organization, but it's also a vital part of the operational Total Force," said Lt. Gen. William Etter, commander of Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern). "Volunteer Civil Air Patrol pilots and aircraft, operating in an Air Force Auxiliary capacity, already fly thousands of sorties every year in support of civil authorities and Homeland Defense, so I'm pleased to officially welcome them to the First Air Force and Air Forces Northern team today."

  • In 2018 CAP members, including Group 4, were awarded the distinguished Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for duty 01 Oct 2012 to 31 Aug 2016.

  • In early 2020, Chambersburg storm damage assessment; Hurricane Isaias support. Continues providing Pennsylvania Air National Guard low-level route surveys.

  • During 2020, CAP mobilized to provide 40 states and Puerto Rico with COVID-19 mission support that ranged from flying test kits, ventilators, vaccines and critical personal protective equipment to remote hospitals to serving millions of packaged meals to those in need. While maintaining strict safety protocols, CAP’s mobilization in support of COVID-19 missions was the largest coordinated effort since World War II, totaling over 32,000 volunteer days of service. Those efforts continue in 2021.

  • Here in Pennsylvania and in Group 4, disaster relief and emergency services missions occupied the foreground of the Pennsylvania Wing's focus during 2020.

  • With the advent of COVID-19, there was a resurgence in wing members' service to their communities in many different ways:

  • Members assisted by distributing meals, sewing masks, delivering personal protective equipment (PPE), restocking food pantries, packing food boxes, and directing traffic at distribution sites.

  • Nearly 500 wing members contributed to delivering more than 775,000 meals and more than 6,200 PPE items. There were 81 mission days resulting in 3,022 volunteer days served and thousands of masks were sewn.

  • Delivered Vaccines, Transports time-sensitive medical materials, blood products and body tissues when commercial resources are unavailable.

  • In addition to COVID duties, in late 2020 PA Wing and Group 4 members performed an aerial survey of the Susquehanna River from the New York border to the Maryland border due to flooding and severe winter storms in December.

New Technologies Become Available

In order to manage and efficiently deploy assets, the wing’s Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Team meticulously developed an interactive operations dashboard to enhance situational awareness of wing activity. The dashboard leverages the ArcGIS platform through the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters enterprise license agreement and allows visualization of mission statistics, asset locations, resource use and daily situation reports — all integrated into a common, real time interface.

Thanks in large part to the assistance of CAP’s National Cell Phone Forensics and Radar Analysis teams, CAP saved 130 lives through Air Force-assigned search and rescue efforts in fiscal 2020.

In Summary, the 2020 Fact Sheet: 

  • CAP operates one of the largest fleets of single-engine piston aircraft in the world, with 560 planes available, plus 54 gliders and two hot-air balloons.

  • In 2020, our pilots flew 19,184 orientation flights for CAP, Air Force ROTC and Air Force Junior ROTC cadets. 

  • Our aircrews flew 70,919 hours in 2020, conducting Air Force-assigned missions as well as support for states and local communities.

  


 

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