CAP Remembers Tuskegee Leadership
Lieutenant General Julius W. Becton, Jr. (Source: U.S. Army, Center of Military History)
by Capt. Brandon Lunsford, CAP
Jenks, Okla (September 14, 2021) – After time as a CAP cadet in 1943, Lt. Gen. Julius Becton Jr. joined the Army Air Forces in July 1944, commissioned in the infantry in 1945 via OCS, and served with the 93rd Infantry Division in the Philippines until the end of the war. He separated from the Army in 1946 but returned to active duty after the desegregation of the Army.
"It was my ambition to become a pilot,” Becton wrote in his autobiography. “A desire enhanced by a visit to the school by Gen. Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold, who was then chief of staff of the Army Air Corps and a Lower Merion [school] graduate. I had even joined the Civil Air Patrol in my junior year in high school as a prelude to learning how to fly. CAP members took classes in aeronautics, navigation, meteorology, and aviation regulations, and we routinely participated in close order drill, which gave me an opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills and gain experience giving orders to a racially mixed group."
He saw service in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, rising to the rank of lieutenant general in 1978 before retiring in 1983. Among his decorations, Becton received the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merit Medals, two Purple Heart Medals, the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany, and the Combat Infantryman Badge with star.
From 1985 to 1989, Becton served as the third director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Ronald Reagan.
On 1 December 2016, he received the CAP Congressional Gold Medal at the corporation's 75th anniversary gala for his service during WWII.
CAP develops young people into leaders. Through classroom instruction, self-paced study, and a laboratory of hands-on learning, cadets develop and hone their skills. Whether a cadet is interested in aviation, emergency services or rocketry, Civil Air Patrol’s leadership program allows them to teach other cadets and develop a level of comfort in public speaking and presentation.
The origins of the Civil Air Patrol story began in 1936, when Gill Robb Wilson, World War I aviator and New Jersey director of aeronautics, returned from Germany convinced of impending war. Wilson envisioned mobilizing America’s civilian aviators for national defense. The proposal for a Civil Air Patrol was approved by Commerce, Navy, and War departments and CAP national headquarters opened its doors Dec. 1. In January 1942, U-boats started attacking the shipping lanes along our east coast. By June, enemy attacks destroyed nearly 400 merchant vessels and oil tankers off the U.S. Atlantic coastline, often within sight of our shores. Civil Air Patrol was called into action by a short-handed military. With privately owned airplanes armed with light bombs, civilian volunteers became the eyes of the home skies, flying a total of 244,600 hours patrolling and safeguarding America's coastline, aiding the safe movement of war material to the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. Today’s Civil Air Patrol may look different, but its core remains the same. It continues to support America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power.
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About Civil Air Patrol
Now celebrating its 80th year, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 130 lives during the past fiscal year. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.