Thomas Reilly


As the United States teetered on the brink of war, many worried that the country was woefully unprepared to defend its own shores. Several prominent Americans developed the idea of a civilian defense force to patrol the offshore waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. A committee headed by Gill Robb Wilson, National Aeronautic Association president and aviation editor for the New York Herald Tribune, presented a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) plan to Fiorello H. LaGuardia, director of the United States Civilian Defense, mayor of New York City, and World War I flyer. Unlike many of his civilian and military counterparts, LaGuardia took seriously the threat of German submarines, once telling a New York Times reporter that “[w]e’ve got to hustle and provide our forces with everything they need so they can end the menace as soon as possible.“1