Civil Air Patrol members eligible to wear the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award ribbon on their CAP Air Force-style service uniforms can now do so.
“I am delighted that CAP was recognized by the Air Force through the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander and CEO. “To my knowledge, this award is a first, never having previously been given to an organization outside the Active, Guard or Reserve components of the Air Force. This speaks to the value that CAP brings to the Air Force.”
The award, presented to CAP by the U.S. Air Force in September 2016, honors the organization for its service from Oct. 1, 2012 to Aug. 31, 2016. Every member who was a cadet or senior member in good standing for at least a day during that 47-month interval are authorized to wear the corresponding ribbon.
The citation accompanying the award makes note of CAP’s “exceptionally meritorious service” during the period covered by the award – described as a time in which the organization “emerged as a true Total Force partner, flying 34,367 operational sorties as the Air Force Auxiliary.”
During those years, the citation said, CAP:
- Served as “the cornerstone of Air Force rescue operations” in carrying out 2,943 search-and-rescue missions for the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, flying 5,040 hours and saving 272 lives;
- Functioned as “an integral part of our homeland defense” in the course of conducting 1,950 flights as targets during intercept training for military jet pilots;
- Provided 158,000 images for emergency agencies’ use in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a massive mission in which aircrews from 21 states made 696 flights in 73 planes;
- Participated in 959 exercises in which aircrews simulated unmanned aircraft systems for training of Air Force, Army and Navy joint terminal attack controllers; and
- Totaled 29,395 flight hours assisting law enforcement agencies in the seizure of illegal drugs valued at $2.9 billion.
“I am extremely proud of the contributions our members make every day,” said Smith, “and am pleased that the Air Force recognizes these contributions, as well.”
The award also recognized CAP’s aerospace education program, praised for reaching 20,000 elementary schoolchildren and promoting academics and fitness through an engaging STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum. CAP’s performance in the Air Force Association’s annual CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition was cited as well, with teams of CAP cadets finishing second overall in 2015 and third in 2016 in national fields exceeding 3,000 teams. CAP cadets took first place nationally in 2011, 2012 and last year.
In addition, the citation hailed CAP’s Cadet Encampment Assistance Program, which has provided financial assistance for 3,700 cadets to attend wing encampments and has increased participation in those activities by 20 percent.
The ribbon may not be worn by those who served as cadet sponsor members, patron members, retired members, aerospace education members or legislative members. In addition, CAP members who are members of the U.S. armed forces, including active and reserve components such as the National Guard and Air National Guard, are prohibited from wearing the ribbon on their armed forces uniform.
(Editor’s note: Information provided by Civil Air Patrol press release.)