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Minnesota Wing

Many disaster relief, SAR milestones in 75-year history

Minnesota launched the first Civil Air Patrol cadet program in 1942, with 41 cadets led by Cadet Commander Harlan Petersburg in Minneapolis.

The wing has assisted in several floods, including floods in 1997 that resulted in millions of dollars of damage and even left wing headquarters underwater for several weeks. Aircrews flew as many as six daily missions and provided assistance including sandbagging, dike patrol, communications, food and shelter, hotlines, damage surveys, photos, lock and dam inspections, and road and bridge status reports.

During floods in 2001, members filled thousands of sandbags in dusk-to-dawn operations to protect buildings at the St. Paul airport. CAP also assisted in 2008 after floods and mudslides washed away land and destroyed bridges and houses.

After tornadoes and floods in 1969 caused $15 million worth of damages, the wing performed aerial surveillance, communications, levee patrols and victim evacuations and transported supplies and equipment.

After the 1963 fatal crash in Minnesota of a U.S. Air Force B-47 from the 98th Bombardment Wing at Lincoln Air Force Base, Nebraska, CAP staffed the command post and provided round-the-clock assistance.

The wing’s longest, most intensive search on record involved a private plane missing 73 days in 1959. In a search extending from the Twin Cities to the Canadian border, CAP flew 500 search missions with up to 40 planes. Two mobile ground units struggled through 1.5 miles of brush and swampland to reach the plane and bodies of four fishermen.

Four years ago before Civil Air Patrol’s 70th anniversary, Dr. Harlan Petersburg donned the vintage cadet uniform he wore in 1942 when the nation’s first CAP cadet program was launched. Here he displays his Central High School yearbook, published in the spring of 1943 and devoting coverage to the Minneapolis-based cadet squadron, established at his school the previous fall. His classmates and fellow cadets peppered the page with notes, such as this: “Harley, you are a good C.O. Keep it up in life. (Cadet) Sgt. Bill Chapman.” Photo courtesy of Arline Petersburg
Four years ago before Civil Air Patrol’s 70th anniversary, Dr. Harlan Petersburg donned the vintage cadet uniform he wore in 1942 when the nation’s first CAP cadet program was launched. Here he displays his Central High School yearbook, published in the spring of 1943 and devoting coverage to the Minneapolis-based cadet squadron, established at his school the previous fall. His classmates and fellow cadets peppered the page with notes, such as this: “Harley, you are a good C.O. Keep it up in life. (Cadet) Sgt. Bill Chapman.” Photo courtesy of Arline Petersburg
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