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Coastal Patrol Base No. 3, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) 1942-1943
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Rangergirl141
N 26° 35.292 W 080° 05.105
17R E 591104 N 2941151
Quick Description: Some of the most fascinating and little known stories about the Civil Air Patrol occurred in Palm Beach County, and to honor the group’s 65th anniversary the Historical Society of Palm Beach County dedicated a state historical marker to this group.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 10/25/2009 6:17:24 AM
Waymark Code: WM7GWJ
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member paintfiction
Views: 30

Long Description:
The marker reads:

Coastal Patrol Base No. 3 at Lantana Airport was one of three 90-day experimental bases established at the East coast of the United States to assist with anti-submarine patrols. Civilian aviators flew missions up to 60 miles out to sea between Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, to search for German U-boats. In May 1942 near Cape Canaveral, Lantana CAP member's Marshall E.Rinker and Tom Manning found a U-boat stranded on a small sand bar and called for a military bomber, but the U-boat freed itself and escaped into deeper water before the plane arrived to destroy it. This incident led to the arming of the small civilian planes the CAP used. The experimental units were so successful that 18 more were established in the U.S., with four more bases in Florida. On August 31, 1943, the anti-submarine patrols were transferred to the military. During the unit's 17 month's of service it flew 18,712 hours 1,546,500 miles, and made 14 attacks, dropping 20 bombs on suspected U-boats. They saved the lives of numerous mariners by attacking and driving off U-boats and directing rescue boats to burning and sinking ships. In 1948, 53 members of the unit received the U.S. military's Air Medal. The CAP continues to operate in Lantana Airport.


Palm Beach County’s involvement in the CAP began in May 1941 at Morrison Field, on the site where Palm Beach International Airport stands today. Florida’s National Guard was called to duty by the federal government, and the State was left without a guard force. In reaction, the Florida Defense Force (FDF) was established, consisting of local infantry units and one air squadron. The First Air Squadron’s mission was to provide coastal patrols and fly support operations during emergencies. Several months after the formation of the CAP, the Army Air Corps approved the establishment of three 90-day experimental bases to perform anti-submarine patrols in response to attacks by German U-boats. The first two bases were set up in New Jersey and Delaware, and a third was introduced in Palm Beach County in March, 1942 as Coastal Patrol Three located at Morrison Field. When the coastal patrol base was established, the men of the First Air Squadron transferred into the CAP unit and launched its first anti-submarine patrols in April 1942.

The base moved its operations from Morrison Field to Lantana Airport a few months later. From April 1942 until Aug. 31, 1943, the unit flew daily anti-submarine patrols from Lantana to Cape Canaveral. After military forces assumed the anti-submarine patrols, some of the men who served in the CAP went on to serve on active military duty, while others continued to serve in some capacity with the CAP. It was not until 1948 that approximately 800 CAP members were recognized for their war-time service and awarded the military’s Air Medal. A ceremony was held at Lantana Airport, and 53 members of CAP 3 were awarded medals for their war-time service.

The list of men who served there reads like a “Who’s Who” of Palm Beach County. They included county commissioners John Prince(Who also has a park named after him), Cecil ‘Zeke’ Cornelius; Marshall E. “Doc” Rinker, founder of Rinker Materials Corp.; Jake Boyd, county engineer; Henry Lilenthal, county attorney; Wright Vermilya, Jr., Palm Beach Aero Corporation president and commander of the base and the Florida CAP Wing; Wiley R. Reynolds, Jr., future president of First National Bank of Palm Beach; nationally known cartoonist, Zack T. Mosley, Jr.; and other community leaders, businessmen and local resident volunteers.

The full story of the base is not well known to the public. For the past few years the Historical Society of Palm Beach County has been collecting the history of this courageous unit to preserve the legacy of these local heroes. In an effort led by Richard “Tony” Marconi, the Historical Society’s education coordinator, oral histories have been recorded as told by four base members – Charles Weeks, Jr., Wiley Reynolds, Jr. (recently deceased), David Thompson and the unofficial member and mechanic of the unit, Owen Gassaway. A session was also recorded with current and former WWII CAP member, Lt. Col. Harvey Bennett of the Florida Wing.

The Historical Society has also collected photographs, a painting depicting WWII CAP planes at Lantana Airport, a 1943 CAP poster by comic strip artist Zack Mosley and an original Air Medal. These items are being compiled along with original footage of the war into a one-hour documentary called “Puddle Jumpers of Lantana: The History of the Civil Air Patrol’s Coastal Patrol Base 3, 1942-1943.” The film is being produced by Frank Eberling of Palm Beach Film Groups, and underwritten by the Marshall E. Rinker Senior Foundation. It is narrated by Monte Markham, a Palm Beach County resident and graduate of Palm Beach High School in the 1950s. The Historical Society plans to make the documentary available for sale in the future, and several Florida PBS stations have already expressed interest in airing it.


Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 57,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 90 lives in fiscal year 2008. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 22,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 67 years. For more information, visit
(visit link)


**Information gathered from the Palm Beach Historical Society**
Marker Number: F-579

Date: 2006

County: Palm Beach

Marker Type: Roadside

Sponsored or placed by: P.B.C. board of county Commissioners, P.B.C. dept. of aitports, The Historical Society, Fl. dept. of the state

Website: [Web Link]

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