The Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol began shortly after Civil Air Patrol’s founding on December 1, 1941. Days afterward, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and drag the United States into World War II. The Japanese Imperial Navy attack of American military installations and vessels of the U.S. Pacific Fleet caught the U.S. by surprise, including Civil Air Patrol and OCD. The following day, December 8, 1941, the new Office of Civilian Defense Director, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, signs Administrative Order No. 9 which formally establishes Civil Air Patrol.
On December 12, 1941, the Office of Civilian Defense in Washington, D.C. announces the appointment of Col. Walker W. Winslow as the first commander of the Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol. At the time, Winslow is the president of the Indiana Aircraft Trades Association as well as a real estate rental agency.
During this period of organization, Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol is assigned based on Army regions. In the case of Indiana Wing, it falls under the 5th Army region, with Indiana Wing being the second Wing. Ohio was the first, hence Ohio’s designation of 51 and Indiana of 52. 52 is the number displayed on the Indiana Wing patch to the current day.
Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol would grow quickly and contribute many resources to the war effort. Many individuals, including a young pilot, Stewart A. Joyce, take an active role in Civil Air Patrol. On July 4, 1939, Joyce wins the Daytona Beach Road Race which initiates his trajectory into Civil Air Patrol. He takes a portion of his earnings, purchases a plane, and begins instruction to become a young pilot in a very young industry. The precursor to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Civil Aeronautics Authority, is itself established in 1939. Joyce obtains his pilot certification in 1939. His instructor is Bob Shank, one of the first airmail pilots.
Joyce joins the Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol early and soon is in training at Stout Field in Indianapolis. After the training, he flies his airplane, a Rearwin Cloudster, to New Jersey where he begins the process of assisting the newly formed Atlantic City base on its quest to hunt German submarines off the East Coast.
Others such as Margaret Ray Ringenberg also contribute to the cause. From Leo, Indiana, an early contributor to the Civil Air Patrol squadron in Fort Wayne who had her first solo flight at nineteen years old. In 1943 she began flying in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) corp. At 72 years old, she flew around the world. A fascinating read, her story is part of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.
Both Margaret Ray Ringenberg and Stewart A. Joyce receive awards at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on December 10, 2014, for their contributions to Civil Air Patrol during World War II.
Almost eighty years later, the Civil Air Patrol still serves the nation and its communities. While the Civil Air Patrol no longer serves in a combat role, as it did during World War II, it does serve to fulfill its three missions of Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services. From investment in the next generation to serving the needs of the local community during disaster responses, the volunteer members of the Indiana Wing are ready -- just as they were in 1941 -- to serve.