Brookings' Civil Air Patrol (CAP) unit, along with all CAP Squadrons in the nation, celebrate 67 years of service to the country.

The Brookings CAP unit is officially the South Coast Composite Squadron and was started in August 1990. Composite means the squadron involved both adults and youth.

Maj. Mike Rupert, one of the founders of the local squadron, is still active and is one of four pilots. Over its 18 years, Brookings CAP members have made more than 500 search and rescue missions and have saved seven lives.

The Brookings squadron has the only airborne public address system in a fixed-wing aircraft. With this system, Brookings air crews can warn people on the ground of tsunami and floods up river while flying above them.

The Brookings unit continues to be extremely active in search and rescue, having participated in more than 25 missions this year. Three members of the Brookings squadron recently received an award from the U.S. Air Force for the andquot;Most Meritorious Civil Air Patrol Missionandquot; for 2007 at the CAP National Board Meeting in Florida.

The Squadron also received three letters of commendation for the development, deployment and implementation of the Airborne Public Address System from the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force.

CAP is the official auxiliary of the Air Force; it has over 58,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90 percent of the U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.

Established Dec. 1, 1941, just six days before Pearl Harbor, CAP air crews started to carry bombs and depth charges in their small, single-engine aircraft when German submarines began to prey on American ships along the Atlantic Seaboard. When the war was over CAP airplanes were credited with attacking 57 German submarines. They hit 10 and sank two. Some CAP members were injured and died while serving on coastal patrol.

CAP began in Oregon July 1942 in Eugene. It was active in helping patrol the coast and areas inland. The CAP Western Patrol flew approximately 30,000 hours, patrolling from dawn to dusk the 360 miles of rocky coast and areas inland.

The CAP planes were looking for out-of-ordinary activities that might be indicative of spies or saboteurs entering or leaving the coast. Pilot-observers often flew their aircraft low enough to read the license plates on suspicious automobiles. In fact, one patrol aircraft flew so low in pursuit of a suspicious automobile that the observer was able to report an accurate description of the car's occupants - down to the color of their shirts and ties. The car was stopped at the Washington border, whereupon the individuals were found to be enemy agents.

Since CAP's beginning, the organization has set itself apart during the country's most tumultuous times: assisting rescuers and state agencies immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and heavily supporting hurricane relief efforts, most notably during the 2005 hurricane season.

Currently, CAP provides vital homeland security missions that help ensure the protection of the nation by assisting the Air Force pilots with target-intercept training. The Cessna aircraft flown by a CAP pilot allows F-15 jets to practice how they would face a potential terrorist in a small aircraft.

CAP provides exceptional education and growth opportunities for youth through its more than 22,000-member strong Cadet Program.

The members of Brookings' South Coast Composite Squadron are: Capt. Scott Bakker, commander; 1st. Lt. Jim Metcalfe, deputy commander; 1st. Lt. Ron Griswold, Maj. Mike Rupert, Capt. Tom Moore, Capt. Fred Wright, Capt. Dave Homes, 2d. Lt. Don James, 2d. Lt. Pete Peters, 1st. Lt. Charles Kresa, 2d. Lt. Ron Lindley, Ross Duncan, Ray Forsberg, Warren Glaze, Larry Mostachetti, Chris Swick, Howard Tingley, Dr. Doug Walker and Mike Watson.

To learn more about Brookings CAP, contract Bakker at (541) 412-8039 or Griswold at 469-7484. For cadet information call Kresa at (707) 218-4529.