A Grand Volunteer Force: Early Exercises & Force Composition of the Iowa Wing, CAP

As of May 1942, the wing had approximately 1,200 personnel. At that time there were over 200 officers, and 1,000 enlisted, with women composing 25 percent of this force. 80 percent of this force were classified as aviators, and the wing claimed to have as many as 600 aircraft available for use at that time, although the number readily available was likely much lower. This still fell short of the 6,000 pilots requested by the organization in January of that year, and approximately 1,500 short of the May estimate.

Training for these missions aided scrap metal drives in the state. This was especially true in the tri-county region of Mills, Montgomery, and Pottawattamie. The simulated arms varied from small bags filled with sand to aluminum beads and pellets. Some of the messages were rather colorful. There was at least one documented case of unwanted results of these missions. In August 1942, six-year-old Lorraine Krug of Treynor, Iowa was struck in the forehead by one of these pellets. According to media reports, she sustained only a small bruise. The most well documented flights took place from Red Oak from 24 – 30 AUG 1942. The faux bombs dropped by CAP planes consisted of eight-ounce sacks of flour tagged with a colored streamer and a catchphrase encouraging people to “get in the scrap!”

These simulated “bombing runs” were just an example of the lively and imaginative situations that the Iowa Wing was known for. In one situation, an active member acted as a “saboteur” that flew in to destroy a defense plant. He was “shot down” in a simulated scenario by intercepting aircraft with CAP. In other situations, flight crews were tasked with “patrolling the cornfields” to look for German U-boats. These teams were training to prepare for spotting missions in the Gulf and the Atlantic Theaters of Operation.

In more realistic and practical situations, the Wing cooperated with state authorities to check on carelessly stored explosives that were in the vicinity of local airports. The owners of this materiel were required to move it to a safer space and remove the risk of sabotage. This coupled with additional missions pertaining to the safety and surveying of natural disasters in 1942 and 1943 contributed to the genesis of CAP’s Emergency Services (ES) mission. Specifically, this came to pass in 1943 when the Missouri River rose to its highest crest since 1881.

During the Missouri River Flood of 1943, Council Bluffs Squadron Commander Leon Morse charged his unit and two detached flights to provide assistance. Council Bluffs Squadron provided assistance to the state guard and kept men and planes on duty for an entire week until the waters fell back within the river’s banks. Following this, Morse ordered his men home for a much-needed rest, but a last-minute rise in the water level forced 120 weary CAP members back to duty after only hours.

Following the close of World War II, the organization of the CAP changed to more closely align with military structure. In 1946, the duty positions included the Adjutant, Air and Administrative Inspectors, Commanding Officer, as well Officer positions for Personnel, Medical, Supply, Engineering, Publications & Records, Public Relations, Fiscal, Intelligence, Legal, and Communications. The responsibilities and duty assignments drew from the already existing Army Air Force standards and military occupational specialties (MOS). These positions drew parallel with the modern A1- A8, and S1-S8 staff shops, plus Command Group, Inspector General (and Internal Audit), and Public Affairs (all of which would fall under modern Special Staff or Command Staff).

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