Busti Resident Discusses Civil Air Patrol, Vet Programs

Todd Hanson, Civil Air Patrol Jamestown Composite Squadron captain, discussing the Civil Air Patrol and several veteran programs during a presentation at the Fenton History Center. Hanson also talked about the Honor Flight network, Blue Star Mothers, Wreaths Across America and the 52nd Anniversary of Operation Hump, one of the deadliest events of the Vietnam War. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

The rich history of a seldom-mentioned national program that has a local chapter was discussed at the Fenton History Center Wednesday.

The Civil Air Patrol has been an important part of the country’s aviation history, which has a local chapter here in Jamestown. Todd Hanson, Civil Air Patrol Jamestown Composite Squadron captain, spoke about the program as a former member and captain in the senior program whose two sons have also participated.

Hanson first gave a little history about how the Civil Air Patrol program was started and the important role it played during World War II. The program was officially created by former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, a former World War I pilot, on Dec. 1, 1941, just days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

During World War II, pilots for the Civil Air Patrol at first flew reconnaissance missions along the U.S. coast. The group’s missions expanded when German submarines began to be spotted along American shores. So the pilots began carrying 100-pound bombs while flying single-engine planes. Hanson said during World War II, Civil Air Patrol pilots hit 10 submarines and sank two.

Today, Hanson said cadets can join the program at 12 years old. He said there are three programs that include being a cadet, emergency services and aerospace education. He added it is a voluntary program that is an auxiliary branch of the U.S. Air Force.

Hanson said by being in the Civil Air Patrol program people can learn practical things that can help them in the future. The program also helps young people who want to join the military, an ROTC program or go to a military academy. He said the cadets learn how to wear their uniform, how to do drills and proper military protocols.

Hanson said he did it as a young man and his two sons, Colton and Collin, have also participated in the program. He said his son, Colton, became a cadet colonel, which only five out of every 1,000 cadets earn. He said the local chapter of the Civil Air Patrol meets every Thursday at the Chautauqua County/Jamestown Airport from 6-9 p.m.

During his presentation, Hanson also talked about the Honor Flight network, which flies military veterans for free to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials of the respective wars they fought in for their country. Hanson said his father, George, and himself went on one of the flights out of Rochester last year. He also said the Buffalo airport is a hub for the Honor Flight program as well.

George Hanson, a Korean war veteran, served in the U.S. Army as a mechanic in the 366th Engineering Division, which was a part the Special Category Army With Air Force. He wore Army uniforms and was in the Army, but he stayed on the Air Force base. One of his main duties during his military service was maintain the airstrip on the base in Pusan, Korea.

George Hanson of Busti died Tuesday, June 27, at the age of 86 in his home surrounded by his family.

Todd Hanson also discussed the Blue Star Mothers program during his presentation. He said the local group sent 1,000 care packages last year to troops serving overseas. He added you don’t have to be a mom or have any military affiliation to join for free.

Hanson said on Nov. 30 the Blue Star Mothers will be sorting items for their next care packages, which they will pack on Dec. 2. Both activities will be taking place at the Fluvanna Community Church, 3363 Fluvanna Ave.

Jamestown’s Wreaths Across America campaign was also discussed, which is a nationwide program where wreaths are delivered to military graves to honor their memory. Hanson said this year’s date is Saturday, Dec. 16 and volunteers are welcome to participate. He said the goal is to raise enough money to place 1,200 wreaths on each grave at Soldier’s Circle at Lake View Cemetery.

Hanson said the Civil Air Patrol and Blue Star Mothers are selling wreaths to raise funds, with a special purchase price being buy two and get three wreaths. He also said they are looking for local corporations to sponsor the program. For more information, visit Jamestown Wreaths Across America on Facebook.

Because Hanson’s presentation was given on Nov. 8, he also discussed the 52nd Anniversary of Operation Hump, one of the deadliest events of the Vietnam War in 1965 for the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The event was commemorated in a song by artists Big & Rich in 2006.