The Alabama Wing hosted an 80th birthday celebration for Civil Air Patrol on Dec. 4 just a few blocks from National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James B. Hecker, Air University commander and president, and Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, CAP national commander/CEO,  participated in the celebration at Maxwell's Honor Guard Hangar. Others in attendance included airmen from the 42nd Air Base Wing, about 20 cadets from the Alabama Wing and such CAP dignitaries as Southeast Region Commander Col. Andrea Van Buren and Wing Commander Col. James Harris as well as Civil Air Patrol-U.S. Air Force Commander Col. Mark Wootan and CAP Chief Operating Officer John Salvador.

“Congratulations on your 80th birthday,” said Hecker, who told the story of Civil Air Patrol’s founding just before World War II and described the organization’s volunteer wartime service before wrapping up his talk by addressing CAP’s longtime role as the Air Force auxiliary and its recent role in the Total Force.

CAP became an official Total Force partner of the Air Force in 2015. “You’ve been a great partner for the last six years, and you’ll be a great partner in the future,” he said.

Hecker cited the Rated Preparatory Program, where CAP flight instructors volunteer their time to train airmen who want to fly, as an example.

“That’s the kind of people you have in Civil Air Patrol,” Hecker said. “They truly care about our folks. They help us out in times of need. Thanks for everything you do.”

Phelka thanked Hecker for his mention of the Rated Preparatory Program, adding that many of the CAP instructors are former Air Force pilots “who love the opportunity to give back and create opportunity for others to succeed in the Air Force they so proudly served themselves.”

Phelka pointed out that Maxwell has hosted CAP National Headquarters since 1967. “We’ve called Maxwell Air Force Base our home for 54 years of our 80 years of existence.” he said. “We are very proud to call Maxwell AFB our home, and we’re grateful for this outstanding event to celebrate our 80th anniversary. Thank you to the Southeast Region and Alabama Wing for making this event a reality.”

He also acknowledged the cadets from the Alabama Wing, who represented the nearly 24,000 cadets serving in Civil Air Patrol from all over the world.

The cadets in attendance had the opportunity to get a closeup look at three CAP aircraft on site as well as an array of small Unmanned Aerial Systems set up for viewing. Also featured were banners from the CAP History Program highlighting the organization’s 80 years of service and complimentary copies of National Historian Col. Frank Blazich’s new book published by Air University Press at Maxwell, “An Honorable Place in American Air Power.”

In addition, members of the Aerospace Education team set up a booth at the event, displaying some of the materials available through the program.