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Civil Air Patrol
Oral History Interview

WNHC 14.83-17
COL LOUISA SPRUANCE MORSE

N AT I O N A L H I S TO R I C A L C O M M I T T E E
Headquarters CAP

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

Interview

Colonel Louisa Spruance Morse, CAP

Lt,,

Col. Les'ter E. Hoppei'-~ CAP

Date: Ib October 1983
Location" Wilmington~ Delaware

C I V I l _ A I R PA I " R O L O R A L H I S T O R Y

Civil Air
early

Patrol

1982

by

Oral

Lt

History

Col

INTERVIEWS

interviews

Lester

E.

Hopper,

were
C A P,

initiated
of

the

in

Civil Air

Patrol:'s National Historical Committee. The overall purpose of
t h e s e

i n t e r v i e w s

i s

t o

r e c o r d

f o r

p o s t e r i t y

t h e

a c t i v i t i e s

o f

selected members of the Civil Air Patrol.

The

principle

goal

of

these

histories

is

to

increase

the

base

of knowledge relating to the ear-ly accomplishments of Civil Air
Patrol members who in their own unique way contributed to the
d e Te n s e o - F o u r g r e a t c o u n t r y. C e r t a i n l y n o t o f a s e r : o n d a r y
nature is the l~reservation of the c(~ntributions oF individuals
as

Civil Air

Patrol

continues

its

growth.

FOREWORD

The following is the transc:ript of an oral history interview
recorded on magnetic tape. Since only minor- emendations haw~
been made, the reader should consistently bear- in mind that he
is reading a transcript of ~.he spoken rather than the written
w o r d . . A d d i t i o n a l l y, n o a t t e m p t t o c o n . F i r m t h e h i s t o r i c a l
accuracy of the statements has been alade. As a result, the
transcript reflects the interviewee~'s personal recollections of
a situation as she remembered it at the time o~ the interview.

Editorial notes and addi't:ions made by CAP historians are
enclosed in brackets. If ~easible:, first names, rank.s, or
titles are also provided. Any additions, deletion~ and changes
subsequently made to the transcript by the interviewee are not
indicated. Researchers may ~d. sh to lie;ten to the actual
interview tape prior to citing the transcript.

SUMI'IARY OF' CONTENTS

In this oral histor-y interview Colonel Louisa Spruance Morse,
C A P, s p e a k s o p e n l y a n d c a n d i d l y o f h e r f o r t y p l u s y e a r s o f
rJedicated service to Civil Air Patr-ol.

The interview begins with her early contacts with the military
establishment which provided knowledge useful to her as she
rose within ~he ranks of Civil Air Patrol. Her views on CAP
operations at the squadron :Level during World War II provide
valuable in~~r-mation on that period.. Based on her e~{periences
a s a W i n g C o m m a n d e r, a R e g i o n C o m m a n d e r, a n d a s t h e N a t i o n a l
Controller.~ she gives unusual insight into the working of the
organization at all .levels.

CQ].c~nel Norse concludes her interview with a timely analysis of
the status of Civil Air Patrol in the early 1980"s.

GUtDE TO CONTENTS
P~ge
1

Personal Background

2

Red Cross Experience

3

First Contact with CAP

4

Appointment as Staff Sergeant

4

Promotion to Warrant Officer

.5

Wartime Security

6

Wartime Motivation

6

Relationship with CAP Active Duty Missions

7

Orc]anization of the Cadet Program

8

Postwar Activities

9

CAP Reserve

I0

Return to Active CAP Ranks

10

Appointment as Acting Delaware Wing Commander

11

Early Experiences with D'elaware Wing

14

Fundinq o~ Wing Operations

16

Early Mission Coord:ination

2O

Thoughts on FECA Coverage

21

Appointment as Middle East Region Commander

23

Te n u r e a s R e g i o n C o m m a n d e r

24

Appointmer~t as National Controller

24

F'r ob at i on ar y Memb er sh i p Commi t t ee

24

Other" Committees

25

Founding of National Historical Commit~.ee

26

Publication of History of CAP Uniforms and Insignia

27

Views on Current Status of CAP

CAP ORA~L I.~ISIORY

Number WNHC 14.83-17
laped Interview with:
Date o÷ Interview:
Locat i on :
Conducted by"

H :

L o u i s a . ,

i f

y o u

IN1ERVIEW

Colonel Louisa S. Morse, CAP
Ib October- 1983
Wilmington, Delaware
Lt. Col. LEster E. Hopper, CAP

w i l l ,

w h y

d o n ' ~ t

y o u

s t a r t

o ff

w i t h

a

l i t t l e

background on your +amily and education.~ and any interest you
had early in the game in aviation and how you came to join CAP
- just kind o÷ general background.

M"
i

Well,

lived

my

in

~ather

having

Washington

÷or

been
the

in

the

better

military

part

o~

a

in

World

year

~n

War

I,

the

thlck o.I~ World War I, although I wa~.; quite small, I grew up on
military, and then when it came time ÷or my younger brother to
go to colleqe, he was in R0rc in Princeton and he was on active
duty when he got through college - that was well be÷ore the war
- so ,L was quite ~:amiliar with

the mi.l. itar"y end o~: it, and .l

had interest in many di~:.ferent things.
started

on

navigation,

it,

but

at

any

meteorology

rate
arid

I

L don"t

s t a r t e d

civil

air

a n

know

how

i n t e r e s t

regulations.

I

I

clot

i n
studied

in Philadelphia, those sub/jec:ts, at the Air-Mar Navigation
School, and at the same time I was at.tire with the Red Cross,
teaching First Fsid, and I was the chai°rman o÷ the First Aid

Morse

Committee for- the Delawar-e Chapter of the Red Cross. l he
morning after Pearl Harbor, Monday morning, I went down to the
offiEe

and

the

paid

secretary

had

quit

the

night

before,

hung

up her uni~:orm and hadn"t told anybody she was quitting, so I
was the only person :ill the Red Cross office the morning after
Pearl Harbor in First Aid and you can imagine how the telephone
rang

off

the

hook.

We

had

quite

an

interesting

time

trying

to

train enough instructors to meet t'he demand .For people who
wanted 'to study First Aid. But when that push calmed down a
b i t ,

I

teach

w a s

s t i l l

i n t e r e s t e d

navigation,

i n

n a v i g a t i o n ,

meteorology,

and

civil

a n d
air

I

w a s

g o i n g

regulations

t o

for

the Civilian PiJ. ot Iraining Program, which at that point was an
effort
train

H:

to

train

them

as

young

people

and

interest

them

in

aviation

and

pilots.

Was that here in W:ilmington?

M:

lhat v~as here in Wilmington at the duPont l=ield. I had

already interviewed the man who ran the program, and I was
scheduled to start the ground school teac:hing.~ although ~ was
not a pilot.~ and just about that time, when I was about to
s t a r t

t o

t e a c h ,

t h e y

c l o s e d

u p

a l l

t h e

fl y i n g

i n

t h i s

a r e a

because o÷ the defense zone of the coast, and they moved all
the flying students $urther west to Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
and

since

I

was

doing

this

as

a

volunteer,

I

wasn"t

about

to

move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the sake o÷ teaching as a
v o l u n t e e r.

H: In other words, yotl were going to 13e a volunteer ground
instructor

M :

I

w a s

-

not

g o i n g

a

t o

paid

b e

instructor.

a

v o l u n t e e r

i n s t r u c t o r.

S o

h e r e

I

w a s

with a brand new CAA, in those days it was, Civil /4eronautics
Aidmlnlstration, ground instructor rating and nothing to do with
it.

So

I

happened

to

read

in

the

paper

one

night

that

the

Civil (:,it'- Patr'ol needed instrttctors .for .iL.Ist such subjects, so
I went down and it didn"t take them very long to put me to
work.. In those days, unless you were on Coast F-'atrol or some
active duty mission J. ots o~ people just didn't bother to sign
any

application

blanks.

Since

I

wa.sn~'t

a

pilot,

I

couldn't

fly

anyway, so 1 ~u.st went ahead and taught ÷or them.

H:

About whet, was that, Louisa:'

M:

lhat was in 1942 in March, and it was October o{ 1942

be÷ore I got around to signing an application {or membership,
s o m y s e r v i c e d o e s n ' t d a t e b a c k a s f a r a s I r e a l l y s e r v e d C ~ { P.
But at any rate, because I was a ground instr'uctor, I was given
the

rank

o+

Sta{÷

Sergeant

-

that's

what

1

started

out

as

in

C A P. l h e y w a n t e d m e t o b e c o m e a S t a ÷ P S e r g e a n t r i g h t a w a y w h e n
I

j o i n e d ,

÷irst,

a n d

I

because

s a i d
i'm

" N o

not

w a y.

going

to

i ' m

g o i n g

get

out

t o

l e a r n

there

on

t o

d r i l l

the

drill

field and have somebody tell me that l~'m a sergeant, drill the
troops,

when

1

don't

know

how

to

do

it."

So

until

I

learned

Morse

how

to

drill

I

re+used

to

take

any

rank,

so

then

1

got

the

Staff Serqeant"s rank, and it was only a matter o~ maybe four
months until I was promoted to W~rrant O÷÷icer, and then 1
didn~'t miss anything from that on tlp, all the grades. Being a
÷emale,

it

went

rather

slowly

for"

a

while,

but

I

served

in

just

about every capacity in Wilmington Squadron and Delaware Wing,
1 was training, personnel, administration, supply, ÷inance,
almost any ..~ob, and 1 put in marry, many hours. I got "the blue
service ribbon., which required two thousand hours in two years.,
and I probably put in $our thousand hours in two years.

H."

Dwelling

a

little

bit

on

the

war-time

period

in

a

squadron,

that, I am sure: was feeding volunteers -~or Coastal Patrol and
having people dra.~ted out, how did you keep the squadron going'?
How biq a squadron was it here in Wilmington:.'

M" Well, in the early days: we didn~'t even have any cadets.
l h e c l a s s e s w e r e s e n i o r s o n l y. Yo u w o u l d n " t b e l i e v e t h e w a y
people clot their licenses in those days. ;here were people who
had pi.lot~'s licenses ÷or whom somebody else had taken the
written

test.

lhey

couldn"t

draw

a

straight

line,

let

alone

navlqate. And when war-time restrictions came along, you had
to know a little bit more than that.~ so I had students in my
classes who had private pilot~'s licenses who literally couldn'~t
draw

a

straight

line.

In

those

days

you

didn"t

have

computers,

everything was done with a wind triangle, and you had to draw
it., with a compass and a ruler, and everythlng was measured.

lhat was my job - to teach these people to navlqate, and teach
them meteorology,

lhey looked up at the weather and if it

looked all right, to them, they would t.ake of÷.
there

was

a

thundercloud

just

coming

in

~he fa(:t that

didn"t

bother

them.

It

was a safety matter, and many o÷ them were older people, who
had had a licen.se and been ÷lying .;:or years, but had not had
this type of experience.

H" What kept the squadron qolnq? What was the interest in the
squadron :.'

M"

Well,

in

:it

the

was

tlvinq,

to

.i:ly.

o+

course,

Very

early

in

rhe

reason

the

game,

these
all

people

civil

were

aircra÷t

were orounded unless they were kept under guard twenty-four
hours a day. In other words, there was grave danger of
somebody going out and taklnq an airplane and sabotaging rite
war industry, just by dropping a bomb fr'om a light air'plane.
rhe ÷ield that we ÷few out of was Biqqs Field at New Castle,
and it was owned by a woman and her brother, and they were
there

in

the

daytime,

but

at

night

they

went

to

bed.

So

rite

Civil Air Patrol provided guards, who were armed and deputized
by

the

county

sheriff's

department,

to

guard

the

field

from

five o:'clock at night, when the Biqgses went o÷÷ duty, unt:il
eight o'~clock the next morning. In exchanqe ~or that the
planes were kept there and they were able to be ÷lown. We had
a l l

o u r

o p e r a t i o n s

sessions,

bivouacs,

o u t

o ÷

and

t h a t

what

fi e l d .

not.



We
you

h a d

a l l

wanted

o u r
to

t r a i n i n q
land,

you

had to buzz the field first and chase t:he cows away, and when
you drilled you stepped carefully,
course.
going,

But

I

think

because

it

they

was
knew

the

l hat was lust par .For the

$1ying

that

if

that

they

kept

were

Patrol they couldn~'t get in an airplane,

the

not

people

in

Civil Air

lhe great majority of

the members in the early days and, before tlne war was very far
along,

all

of

them

were

either

too

old

or

too

young

~or

military service or had physlcal handicaps, and they wanted to
do something - everybody wanted to contribute to the war el-Fort
and they couldn~'t qet in the military, so CAP was a golden
opportunity

to

do

their

bit,

and

utilize

their-

knowledge

as

a v i a t o r s

H: Did they per~.orm some services, courier service, or carry
cargo - anythinc3 o÷ that nature7

H:

Well,

in

1944

or

5,

1

don'~t

recall

exactly

which

it

was

-

I

could check my log book - but sometime along then, I know it
was after the cut-o+~ date sot getting ~.he Courier Ribbon, i
served as navlqator ~.or a man who had his own plane, and he
used

to

~erry

critical

small

parts

For

one

oe

the

war

industries back and Forth from Wilmington to Dayton, Ohio.
Fhere was a qreat deal o+ that. 0~: c:ourse, the search missions
were carried on. But we ~ed people into Coast Patrol and the
active

duty,

but

we

knew

very

little

about

it,

because

Coast

Patrol was a well-kept secret, and those o~- us who were not on
Coast F'atrol didn'~t even know what was going on. I suppose the

Wing Uommander knew, because he was involved in recruiting the
people, but I had no knowledge o~ what was goinq on in Coast
Patrol at that time, because nobody talked about it.

H:

So your- squadron ~ust did wi~atever came up that would help

the

war- effort.

M:

lhat was in the earliest days.

lhen, o~ course, the cadet

program was organized in October 1942 and that was when we
really got busy, because we were charged with the
responsibility

o-f

recruiting

aviation

cadets.

lhe

story

with

those was that they were allowed to enlist before they were
eigi~teen, or siqn up, and they were not called 'to active duty
until

wiLrtir~

six

months

after

their

eighteenth

birthday.

But

the seventeen-year-olds were encouraqed to get into CAP and get
their

basic

training.

We

had

many

interesting

experiences

with

theme young people who did a ~antastic .~ob once ti~ey got in the
service, because they were two steps up the ladder be-fore they
went in. We had one story o+ a young lad who went to Rutgers
in the ~4rmv Specialized Iralning Reserve Prooram. He went to
Rutgers

and

the

first

day

he

got

there

he

was

put

in

uniform,

and 'for some reason he was told to report to the commanding
o÷÷icer. When he went. in the o÷$icer'"s ot.l.i~:e, the man was
talkino

on

the

phone.

He

waited

until,

the

ot÷icer

got

through

talkinq on the phone, and then he snapped to attention and
saluted

and

said:

"Sir,

Private

Dwyer'

reports

as

ordered."

The o+÷icer returned the salute and carried on whatever

Morse

conversation

he

had

with

him

and

said

that

that

was

all.

Ihe

boy gave another snappy salute, did an about +ace and took of÷
+or

the

door. All

of

a

sudden

the

o+÷icer

realized

that

the

lad had been there for less than twenty-four hours, how did he
l e a r n

a l l

t h i s .

you

learn

all

two

year's."

c h a r g e

o f

trained

l h e

thls7
"Very

t h e

and

o f fi c e r

good.

got

" Wa i t

I

.... S i r.

w h o l e

they

s a i d :

a

w a s

Carry

g a n g .
over

the

i t

~ i r

The

next

p a i d

first

m i n u t e .

C i v i l

on."

S o

a

o ff .

humps

P a t r o l
day,

l h e y

of

W h e r e
C a d e t

he

was

w e r e

how

to

d i d
f o r
in

w e l l

wear

a

uniform and how to behave in uniform. We had the
responsibility
Patrol

also

whether

o+

gave

they

recruiting
the

were

these

preliminary

qualified

to

people

and

then

examinations

go

in

as

to

aviation

Civil

find

f~ir

out

cadets. As

the war progressed, and even after the war, we had a variety of
assignments. After the war, one o÷ our assignments was t.o
check

on

all

the

reserves

who

had

gone

off

active

duty.

÷hey

~ust did not have adequate records of where they were, so they
gave us a list and said to check these people out and see
whether

they

are

still

at

these

addresses,

and

i+

not,

see



you can find out where they've qone.

H'- They also got into some kind of "Find a Job for Veterans"
program.

M:

Ye s ,

jobs

÷or

veterans,

lhere

were

many,

many

jobs

that

were given. In the post-war days we had air- shows. We were
trying

to

interest

people

in

aviation,

because

aviation

was

we

Morse

sti.ll new enough Lhat, .for" instance.~ the parents o+ potential
aviation cadets., in many cases, were e>:tremely hesitant to have
t h e i r

s o n s

safer

on

g o

the

i n t o

t h e

ground.

a i r

We

a r m .

had

a

l h e y
public

j u s t

fi g u r e d

relations

t h e y

job

to

w e r e
prove

to

them that aviation was net as hazardous or as new as it had
been in Wor'Id War I.

H : To u ~ r e d o i n g fi n e .

lhat~s the kind o÷ material we~'re

l o o k i n g

t o

. f o r.

B u t

b a c k

a

l i t t l e

b i t

a b o u t

y o u r s e l ÷ .

Yo u

started talking about your movement through the CAP ladder and
what

you

supply

did

in

the

squadron.

I

believe

we

le÷t

you

as

a

officer.

M: Well, I had a number o÷ di.f+erent assignments: and then: o÷
course: I was married in 1942. I had e,'{pected to go overseas.
I

married

a

man

who

was

in

the

service,

i

expected

to

go

to

Japan~ which did not materialize -. we were not sorry about
that. But at any rate, I was on leave ÷rom CAP .for a while.
We moved around the country quite a bit., and 1 never tied up to
any o÷ the L;~P units where we l. ived, because we weren't any
place long enough.~ really.

H : N o w t h i s " o n l e a v e f r o m U A P. "

.Is this where this rumor

comes about a CAP Reserve?

H:

No. rhere was a CAP Reserve at one point., but all i did

was

I

just

asked

to

be

put

on

temporary

inactive

status,

and

1

was. ;hen it wasn'~t very long before I was back" active again.
In 1950 my husband Rot out o~ the service and we came back here
to

Wilmington

to

live.

He

joined

CAP

and

I

went

back

on

active

status: and it was 1953 that 1 was made actinq Wing Commander.
I served as an acting Wing Commander ÷or longer than anybody
else had up to that point. I was a year instead o.;: si>: months,
and I believe :it wasbecause 1 was a ÷emale.

H:

It probably was.

M: i:'m quite sure it was, because the powers that were, at
that point, didn~'t approve of women Wing Commanders. lhere had
not been a woman Wing Commander, except ~or a very brief time
durino wartime. Nancy lier had been commander o÷ the
Connecticut Wing. But other than that there had never been a
woman Wing Commander. Well, ÷inally, General Beau did approve
the appointment to -full colonel, so 1 served for a year as a
lieutenant colonel, and then in 1954 1 was a .Full colonel, and
I had a Lotal of twenty-two and a half years as Wing Commander
and a little over three years as Middle East Reqion Commander,
so I had about twenty-six years ot command service.

H : Te l l u s a l i t t l e b i t a b o u t w h a t a f e m a l e W i n c l C o m m a n d e r
does

in

1953

to

get

a

wing

going,

or

was

it

already

a

real

going out÷it, or" was it the best in the east=.'

M:

No, it wasn't a going out÷it, and many o+ the wings were

having pr'oblems. As you know, any command .job takes a l(.0t o+
time, and a Wing Commander's job takes a lot more time than a
Squadron Commander's job, or even a Region Commander's .lob.
But the big problem is that Delaware is a small state, and
there ar'e just as many E~J.(:)ts to fill on Wing Sta~:f in Delaware
as there are in California, but there aren;°t as many people to
draw on. Granted we had ~ewer squadrons and we did not have
any groups, but the ~act remains that if you have twenty slots
on your sta~.~ and you take twenty people and you only have
fi f t y

( o r

s i x t y

r e a l l y

e f . F i c i e n t

o ~ fi c e r s

i n

t h e

s t a t e ,

i t

doesn"t .Leave very many to run the squadrons. My ~eeling
always was that without strong squadrons, there was no need ~or
a wing. So., in many cases people wore two hats: or we got
along without, because there were some jobs we just didn'~t have
~ i l l e d . I ' h e r e w a s n : ' t m u c h w e c o u l d d o a b o u t i t . Yo u w e r e n ' ~ t
allowed to hold a job at wing and also at squadron, but the
$act that. 1 didn't have a job and I had the time and was able
to

spend

an

awful

lot

o~

time

on

it

was

really

the

i:hing

that

made as blcl a success. My husband was a tremendous help,
because

he,

having

been

in

the

military,

started

out

as

a

lieutenant colonel in CAP and he was Civil Defense Coordinator
first,

and

then

he

was

Director

of

Operations.

He

used

to

drive up and down the state every day - ninety miles the length
o f

t h e

s t a t e

a n d

b a c k .

H e

c a r r i e d

a

l o t

o ~

t h e

l o a d

f o r

t h e

down-state squadrons, and he knew everybody in the state, in
the

southern

ef÷icient

part.

people,

I
a

had
÷ew

a

pretty

that

were

good

sta~÷.

really

good.

I

had

some

Because

of

the

÷act

that

I

made

a

full-.time

job

out

of

it~

I

think

that's

what

made it go. I was criticized on many occasions ~:or doing too
much

myself,

but

if

there

is

nobody

else

to

do

it,

I

was

a

firm

believer in the ÷act that if the .job had to be done., and you
couldn'~t get anybody else to do it you had to do it yoursel6.
l hat'~s the way it got done. lllere were a lot o+ ti~ings that I
did

that

I

~shouldn't

didn:'t get done.

have

done,

but

either"

i

did

it

or

it

lhe wing (zertainl. y was at the top - had a

much better record than any other wing in the country during
the period that I was Wing Commander and tllere were National
Evaluations. A.Fter

I

went

up

to

Region,

they

still

had

a

real

good qoing wing. lhey had some un÷ortunate e>:periences,
because Colonel Everett.~ who was the one that followed me, was
in

extremely

poor

health,

and

he

finally

had

to

give

up.,

but

at

that point I was Region Commander. Of course~ I said then
that, since I ~as no longer the Win0 Commander., I wasn:t goin0
to

run

the

wino.

I

was

going

to

k.eep

my

fingers

off

o.F

it

and

l e t t h e p e o p l e w l To w e r e r u n n i n 0 t h e w i n g r u n i t .

F I : Yo u m e n t i o n e d t h e b i g p r o b l e m i n r u n n i n g t h e w i n g i n a
small

state

like

Delaware

was

trying

to

get

qualified

people.

Other than that, what is the biggest challenge to keeping a
wino. goinq :"

I'I" Well, ~:or one thing, Delaware did not have any state
appropriation
had

large

until

state

the

last

couple

appropriations.

I



think

years.
one

of

Many,
the

many

wings

reasons

that many o÷ the states get appropriations is that they have
the opportunity to provide emergency service. Some of the
western states have the Rocky Mountains and they have a lot of
search missions and the CAP does a fantastic job. Some of the
coastwise ones have hurricanes and they do a fantastic job
radio-wise, and they are put before the public and they are
known. Now, as +ar as Delaware is concerned, ~or search and
rescue there are very, very ÷ew missions in Delaware. l'here
are more now that we have ELls, but in the early days.~ if
anybody came down in Delaware, they were almost in somebody'~s
bark yard, becausle there is not much wild country in DeLaware,
where you could come down and nobodv hear you. So we weren~'t
in the ÷ore~ront for emergency services. We didn-~t have very
many hurricanes or- ~].oods. We don"t have that kind of terrain.
We did have Hurricane Hazel, and we provided generators to help
people run their milkinq machines and their pumps and what not,
but that ~vas a one shot deal. I+ you don:t have the exposure
to the publJc, so that they know what vou are doing, you have a
h a r d e r : l o b . Yo u h a v e t o b e p r e p a r e d , b u t y o u d o n : ' t h a v e t h e
opportunity to use your knowledge,
course,

was

a

disadvantage.

l he lack o÷ money, o÷

Nnother

thing

is

that,

as

far

the cadet program is concerned--

H: Excuse me, Louisa, but how did you o~÷set that lack o÷
state appropriation7

M:

We

went

out

and

asked

for

contributions.

I

got

two

or

as

three people who were instrumental in the community - a banker
and a broker and a man who was interested in aviation. 11 gave
them

each

people

to

a

list

write

and

I

asked

letters

to

them

and

ask

to

pick

them

to

about

twenty-five

support

the

C A P.

We

had about a hundred people that were giving us contributions
every year, and that'~s what we lived on, just contributions and
our

own

dues

of

our

members,

lhen

the

dif÷iculty

with

the

cadet program was - in Wilmington, you did not have so much
problem, because that'~s a city area and people, could get around
easily,

but

in

your

more

rural

places,

where

they

go

by

bus

to

school, and they get to school in the morning and they go home
on the bus, and they can:'t get back to a central location to
have

a

meeting.

So

if

you

couldn"t

get

the

program

in

the

school, as part o~ the school, you had no opportunity to bring
t h o s e k i d s b a c k t o g e t h e r a g a i n . Yo u w e r e d e p e n d e n t u p o n t h e i r
parents

to

transport

them

ten

or

fifteen

miles

to

get

to

a

meeting, and what were the par'ents going to do while the kids
were in the meeting. So unless you could en~iist the parents
a]ong with the k'ids, you had a hard time o~ it. We did have a
pretty rough time, but we compensated largely through the
actlve squadrons in Wilmington. We had a big one in Dover and
a big one in Newark and several in Wilmington, but the smaller
communities had almost nothing.

H:

But

you

solved

solicitation.

your

~-inancial

difficulties

by

direct

Morse

M:

Contributions.

Direr-t

solicitation. And

we

were

supported

for a qood many years by fifty to a hundred people who gave
generously, maybe as much as a hundred dollars apiece, some a
little more than that., and that was all we had.

fhen

eventually, the last few years.~ they got a state appropriation:
but

they

lost

that

last

year,

so

I

dont

know

where

they

are

going to from here.

H:

M"

Did

they

lose

it

on

a

budget

cut,

(or

politics?

No.., they lost it on lust a budqet cut - everythinq:'s cut.

H: Did you have any really irrteresting anecdotes about the
period when you were the Wing Commander?

M: Oh, we had them all the time. i remember (one time when
Peggy Chadwick and I were sitting here talking about a mission
or a SAR-.C~:~F' or somethinq that we had had during the week-end,
and we were both e>'hausted, and the telephone rang. I went and
answered it, I was the Winq Commander at that point. I came
back and I said: "~ou won:'t believe this, but we have a
mission." We had just .finished up a SAF~-CAF', so we started all
over again. But many times.~ Lhe way we ran our missions, I had
two telephone lines here in the house., and I had the radios.~
and if I "~d get an alert I d call Peggy, who lived a block away,
and my son was a cadet and my husband was a member', and the
-Four o.F us would start at ten o"clock at night to organize

thinqs
line

~or

up

daylight

the

piJots,

the
get

next
the

day.

We:d

people

alert

from

the

everybody

and

different

squadrons, and give them assignments, and that:'s the way we ran
our missions.

H:

l'hat"s

M:

Well,

a

in

very

the

familiar

early

story,

days,

L.ouisa.

before

they

had

Civil Air"

Pat:rol

mission coordinators, when the mission coordinators came out of
the Air Rescue Service, we would have, usually one officer and
an airman would fly in from Westover Field, Massachusetts, and
they would come down to what"s now Greater Wilmington and what
used to be New Castle County ~4ir Base. We had a headquarters
of sorts down there, and they would come down and they would be
the ones to run the mission, lhe airman was the admin guy and
the,

usually

a

captain,

was

the

mission

coordinator.

We

had

to

provide all. the back up. F'eqgv (]hadwick and I would go down
there. She was the typist and I was the Wing Commander, of
course, and the radio operator and anything else that had to be
done. But while these two people would get some sleep, (we put
a

cot

up

in

one

of

the

rooms

there>,

we'd

run

the

office

and

answer all the radios and process all the reports and
everything else so these poor people could get some sleep,
because they"d be four and -five days at it.

H:

I

hadn't

heard

that

aspect



early

S~R.

How

long

did

that

Oo on, where the Hit Force actually sent people in to run them

M:

I

don'~t

know

how

long

it

was,

but

it

was

quite

a

while

before the Civil Air Patrol was considered capable of doing the
mission coordinating themselves: because there was a lot of
training that had to be done. I remember one particular"
mission where an Air Force Colonel was missing.

Ihe Air Force

was very mMch interested in that, E|ut whichever wing was the
hot

spot

of

the

mission,

the

~4ir

Force

officer

would

go

to

that

wing, and then there would usually be three or' four wings on
the

mission,

but

they'd

all

have

to

funnel

their

reports

in

to

this one wing, so that:'s where the host wing for the Air Force
officer

had

an

awful

lot

of

work,

because

they

had

to

take

in

all tlne reports and consolidate them, and everything had to go
back to the Rescue Service Center.

H:

-|hat's

an

interesting

aspect

on

early

SAR

that

I

hadn't

encountered before - the concept that the ~.~ir Force didn't
t:rust CAP in the early stage:s to run their (own missions. As it
is

now,

run

M:

it:'s

missions

Well,

carte
for

there

blanche,

the

was

a

in

~act

i've

been

called

upon

to

military.

time

when

a

Civil Air

Patrol

mission

coordinator had to be a pilot, and two or three of us who were
not pilots but were observers had run probably more missions
than

most

of

the

mission

pilots

in

the

state.

When

you

are

short of mission pilots, when you have only a certain number of

pilots, who are mission qualified, as we had 17ere in Delaware,
you couldn"t a.fi:ord to have a mission coordinator, an
operations

officer

-

two

or

three

people

on

the

ground

at

each

of two or three bases to run a mission, because you didn'~t have
a n y b o d y l e f t t o - F l y. Yo u h a d t o u s e p e o p l e o n t h e g r o u n d w h o
were not pilots, and what we usually did was, either ~he
mission

coordinator

or

the

operations

officer

was

a

pilot,

but

the other one did not have to be. When I was time mission
coordinator', Col. Everett would be the operations o.f.ficer - he
was

a

pilot

and

I

would

refer

all

the

stuff

that

had

to

be

a

pilot'~s decision to him. YOu can hamper your mission very
severely by requiring too many mission pilots on the ground,
because, in my book it:'s more important t.o get up there and
look, than it i~_s to sit on the ground and try to coordinate.

H:

Yo u

don't

rind

lost

aircra÷t

on

a

tabletop.

I'1: Well, you do get a lot o~ leads i.f you have oood publicity,
and we i~ad e>:Eellent help .From 'the newspapers and radio
sta~.ions, arid that. was another job that yoL~ had to do - get all
these leads and determine whether they were good or ;lust
somebody

tryin0

to

get

a

little

publi(:ity.

Once

you

did

get

a

lead that was some good you had to have a pilot to go cheek" it
out, or a ground team. In many cases it was a grouted team to
go and interview the person who had called up. 1hen it was Lip
to the ground team leader to determine whether it was a good
solid lead or- whether it was somebody who was ~ust trying to

Morse

g e t t h e i r n a m e i n t h e p a p e r. Yo u h a d t o a s k t h e m : " D o y o u s e e
airplanes

very

o~ten?"

"Are

they

big

ones

or-

little

ones?"

"Do they ~ly high or- low?" "What experience have you had with
planes? .... Were you ever in the service?" so that YOU know
whether they can tell whether- it;'s a puddle-jumper or a
commercial

airliner.

Some

an

qo

but

airplane

how

hiah

it

over,

people

they

really

can~'t

tell

can'~t
you

tell.

how

ihey

big

it

see

is

or

is.

H~- Well, for a long time then Delaware Wing ran on a full-time
Wing Commander by the name of Louisa Morse, is what you~'r'e
saying.

M: Fhat'~s true - and I had excellent support from my family.
When my kids were little, I had somebody to help take care of
them, and they were interested. My goodness! l'he two of them
would

use

anything

that

they

could

in

connection

with

Civil Air

Patrol for l lalloween costumes or anythinq else. They were
interested

in

it.

My

son

became

a

cadet

and

is

now

a

pilot.

My daughter was never a cadet and was never interested in
anythinq but horses, but t:hey were very tolerant of Civil Air'
Patrol, and my hL1sband (o~ (::c)ur'se I had been in Civil Air
Patrol for a long time before we were married> and he said: "If
you can:t beat them, join them," so he was very, very active
a n d d i d a n e x t r e m e l y g o o d j o b i n C A P.

H:

I recall reading some testimony that you gave before the

Morse

Ar'med Services Committee. Was that when you were the Wing
C o m m a n d e r o r a P, e g i o n C o m m a n d e r ?

M" It was not when I was Region Commander, and I don'~t know
whether I was Wing Commander at that point or not. i don:'t
recall when it was done, but I was probab~ly Wincl Commander.
don"~t remember the date.

H :

I

d o n ' t

r e c a l l

w h e n

i t

w a s

e i t h e r.

T h a t

t e s t i m o n y

i n

itself gave a pretty (~ood indication of how much time and
e f f o r t y o u a n d y o u r - h u s b a n d h a d p u t i n t o C A P.

M ' -

We l l ,

w e

f e l t

v e r y

s t r o n g l y

t h a t

- t h i s

w a s

i n

c o n n e c t i o n

with the compensation bill - and we felt ti~at it was wrong for
people

to

be

asked

to

go

out

and

risk

their

lives

in

searching

.for somebody and be paid r.~othing, be paid only for their gas
and oii, and then iT they were injured, to be expected k.o lose
their livelihood and have to pay their own inedical expenses.
That's what it amounted too. And, of course, we have ]ust now
gotten ~hat situation corrected, because the amount that was
authorized in the original b:ill was $135 a month for- a widow
and $220 a n~.onth, I think it was, for" a person who was injured,
and that ~rom the 1950s, I think it was 1955, was the
Compensation E~ill, I was Winq Commander ~:rom 1953, so I was
probably Wing Commander at the time, but that never was changed
until 1983. Now we"ve got it up to something over $700, which
i s

E o n s i d e r a b l y

b e t t e r

t h a n

$ 1 3 5 .

I t ' ~ l l

g o

a

l i t t l e

b i t

÷urther

--

I

won't

say

you

can

H: 01(. Go on ahead.~ Louisa.

live

off

of

it.

Were VOLt really the first female

Wing Commander?

M: I was ~.Ine first Win0 Commander" except .for Nancy rier." yes.
And then within a few months after I was made Wing Commander."
there were two more. II-ere was Clara Livingston from Puerto
R i c o a n d N a n e t t e S p e a r ' s f r o m N e w L l e r. s e y. We w e r e t h e t h r e e
lady Wing Commander~.i .for several year's., and then I outlasted
both of them. 'lhen some years later they had additional women
Wing Commanders and they do have some now, but I was the first
one to cracI" the barrier-: so to speak.

H" How about Region, were you the first -female Reqion
Commander?

M:

I

was

the

first

female

Region

Commander

-

i'm

the

only

woman that's ever served on the National Executive Committee."
as Reoion Commander l was a member o÷ the National Executive
Committee. O-f course." as National Controller I was not. lhe
National

Controller

is

a

national

cffficer

but

is

not.,

or

was

not, a member of either the National Board or the National
Executive Committee.

lhey have just recent:ly changed the

by-laws so i:hat the l~a'tional Controller is now a member of the
National Board., but that took place :lust at the time that my
term

of

office

as

National

Controller

ended:

so

I

was

not

on

Morse

the National Board as the National Controller.

H :

U u s t

a s

w e

h a d

t a l k e d

a

l i t t l e

b i t

a b o u t

t h e

t r i a l s

a n d

tribulations o~ a Wing Commander: how about those o.~ a Region
Commander ?

M" We'l.l~ o.~ course, the Region Commander has a certain number
o'i: wings to look after

And in your case, which were those?

H:

M:

I

had

seven

wings,

and

I

lived

in

the

northernmost

of

the

seven winqs.

H:

What seven winqs were these, Louisa?

M" Delaware, Maryland, National Capital, Vir'(~inia, West
V. i r ( ~ : i . n : i . a ~ I ' , l o r t h a n d S o u t h C a r o l i n a . S o , D e l a w a r ' e , b e i n g t h e
northernmost of those states, there was a lot o-F territory to
c o v e r .

H:

M:

It"s a long way to South Carolina.

The

other

thing

is that of course I had been a Wing

Commander and I had

attended Region Conferences and whatnot and

I knew all the Wing

Commanders., but when ira's necessary to

c h a n g e a c o m m a n d e r. ~

it'~s

a

big

responsibility

for

a

Region

Commander to clnange a Wing Commander, because you have to know
what effect ira's going to have upon the wing, whether the
m e m b e r s a r e o o i n g t o a c c e p t t h e n e w c o m m a n d e r. Yo u a r e t o r n
between what volt think is the best thing for the wing and what
the people in tile wing tell you: and sometimes you have two or
three

factions

in

the

wing

that

disagree.

It:'s

a

tough

job.

Also, on occasions, you may Inave somebody who has to be
relieved,

and

that'~s

a

tough

iob

too.

It"s

not

pleasant

to

relieve anybody of their job, and my theory always was that if
you can persuade them to resign it~s much better than firing
them.

But,

p r o b l e m s .

i

was

B u t

prettv

i t ' s

a

fortunate.

i o b

t h a t

I

didn:'t

r e q u i r e s

a

have

l o t

o f

too

many

t a c t

a n d

a

good bit o l~ clout.

H:

I t

M"

Ye s .

horns.

c a r r i e s

w i t h

Yo u ' ~ v e
In

other

got

i t

to

words,

a

q o o d

be
the

b i t

willing

o f

to

c l o u t .

take

commander

t.he

who

is

bull
not

by

the

willing

to

~.Jear the black hat and do the dirty work when it has to be done
is not the most efficient commander.

H:

How long did you stay as a Region Commander?

M: I was about three and a ha]f years as Re0ion Commander.
It's normally a four year term, and I was appointed in Ouly and
it was in December, three and a half years later, that because
of the change o~ assignments at the national level they asked

me

to

be

National

Controller,

so

that

was

a

litLle

bit

short

o~

a normal term as Region Commander.

H:

When was that, Louisa?

M: I was the Wing Commander until July o-f 76. I was the
Re.0ior~ Commander until December of 79 and I was National
Controller from December 79 until August of 83.

Yo u d i d a F e w o t h e r t h i n g s i n C A P, I t h i n k .

H:

M: I served on a number o÷ committees at one time or another.
I was on a committee that we had for Probationary Membership,
back

in

the

early

days,

as

to

whether

it

was

smart

or

not

to

have members in a probationary status for a ~hile.

H:

M :

What was a F'robationary Member7

l h a t

w a s

i n i t i a l l y,

b e f o r e

. Yo u

g o t

t o

b e

a

f u l l

fl e d g e d

member, whether you shou]d have a status period in which yc, u
weren:'t a full fledged member and did not have all the
benefits,
and

lhen

I

was

on

the

insurance

Committee

for

a

while,

1 was on the Scholarship Selection Committee, and I was

"chairman of the Uniform Committee for several 'vears. While I
was on the Uniform Committee, I got interested in collecting
Civil Air
i n s i g n i a .

Patrol
I L

w a s

insignia
m y

i d e a

and

trying

t h a t

i f

I

to

develop

c o u l d

g e t

sets

t h r e e

of
s e t s ,

o n e

Morse

would go to National Headquarters ÷or display, and one would go
to the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian, and
one would go to the Air" Force Museum at Wright-Patterson. I
talked to Mr. Glenn Sweetinq, Curator of Aeronautics at the
National Air and Space Museum, one time and I showed him what I
had and asked him if he would be interested, and he said they
very

definitely

would

be

interested.

They

wouldn't

promise

to

display it permanently, because they did not have the space,
but

they

would

definitely

be

interested

in

having

a

set

of

it~

and he showed me what they had. But he said that what they
needed to know from the standpoint of the museum is: "What does
all

of

it

compile

mean?"
a

So

history

of

that

Qot

me

Civil Air

motivated

Patrol

to

insignia

start
and

trying

to

uniforms.

Well, to make a Ionq story short, i got the National Commander,
who was ~ohnnie Boyd at that point to approve the organization
o f a N a t i o n a l H i s t o r i c a l C o m m i t t e e f o r C A P, a n d i t w a s p u t
together

originally

just

as

a

means



coordinatinq

the

efforts

of seven people that we found had already been workinq on one
phase or another of CAP history or insignia., uni÷orms, and so
f o r t h .

S o ,

l i k e

To p s y,

i t

i u s t

s o r t

o f

g r e w.

I

d i d

t h a t

f o r

about a year, and then I realized that there was somebody who
was

a

lot

better

qualified

to

run

the

committee

than

[

was,

so

Les Hopper was delegated to replace me as chairman: which
suited

HI

I

me

don'~t

fine.

necessarily

agree

appreciate the opportunity.

that

l:'m

better-

qualified,

but

I

M:

Well,

longer

you

than

primarily
o.F

people
I

had,

been

military

interested

Civil Air

had

Patrol

in

working

history

was

and

providing

insiqnia

with

before

it

history

what

the

a

lot

What

not.

for

I

was

physical

was

all

collection

lost

and

gone,

and we have done pretty well on that. We have the three sets
which
will

are

ever

approaching
be

absolutely

completion.

I

don't

complete,

but

think

they

are

anv

of

close.

them

With

the

cooperation of a lot of people we have been able to put sonle of
it together, and then we:'ve been digging thr"ougt-i recor('Is and
t r y i n g

t o

e s t a b l i s h

÷ i r s t

o f

a l l

-

m y

fi r s t

p r o j e c t

-

' t h e

history of uniforms and insignia, which is now complete,
although it will have to be r-evised as we develop more
information a~ we did tc)day.

H: Excuse ,he, Louisa.
in

three

M:

I

parts

think

of

it;'s

some

390

lhat project represents the publication
three

pages,

hundred

now.

First

or

so

o~:

pages,

all

we

didn"t

took.

it?

the

chronology o.~ Civil Air" Patrol uni.Forms up to a point, when
they

were

the

same

as Air

Force

uniforms,

rhen

we

cut

it

o~f

because we Eouldn"t take every (-hange in the more recent years.
But the first ten years, and the second ten years, that was '~42
to :'51. and '52 to '61, we had uni..Forms and then we had
everything
was
the

a

that

section

specific

pertained

on

to

insignia

illustrations,

references

to

that

and

and

the

piece

ribbons.

Then

illustrations

o.F

insignia,

or

there

included
group

of

insignia, such as chevrons or rank. then we did one on each
ribbon,

when

it

was

authorized,

what

the

criteria

were

for

its

award, and when it was phased out or changed. Then as .far as
the wing patches were concerned, I simply compiled
illustrations of the wing patches and for those wing and region
patches that had been chanqed, the obsolete ones. Hopefully,
at some time in the future we"ll be able to come up with a
history of each wing patch, what it means, and who designed it:
but

that

is

very,

ver-y

difficult

to

acquire,

because

:in

many

cases the wings have no idea who designed their patch or" what
it

meant

on

that.

help

originally.
I

with

have
the

a

I

think"

little

state

bit,

you,
and

historians,

Les,

have

hopefully
if

you

get

some

we'~ll
that

information
have

some

program

going,

where t'.he,¢ mav be able to come up with something.

H :

I

o~f

g u e s s ,
if

L o u i s a ,

there:'s

i n

anvthinq

s u m m a r y
else

you

-

I ' m
want

c e r t a i n l y
to

n o t

amplify

-

c u t t i n g

but,

i t

you've

seen CAP start back in the early 40s in the boon of the war, so
to speak, so far- as interest in CAP is concerned, you saw it qo
throuah the doldrums of the immediate post-war period, and then
some resurgence thereafter. What"s your feeling about the
current status of CAP in both the community and nation?

M :

I

t h i n k

t h e

c a p a b i l i t i e s

o f

C i v i l

A i r

P a t r o l

a r e

b e i n g

recognized more widely than they were previously, and I think
the military and the I'EI~A people, who are the Federal Emergency
organization are finding t.hat 'the .~ob can be done by CAP in

many cases, where they .lust don'~t have the capability to get it
done any" other- way. rhe discipline that has been instilled in
the members o.F Civil Air Patrol and their willingness to do a
job and to accept training, go through training so as 'to do 'the
.job well, I think has paid o.Ff, and I think they have been
given more and more types oF responsibility and it"s :just been
p r o v e n

t h a t

aviators.

OF

i t

d o e s n ' t

course,

t a k e

there

a

w a r

are

a

t o

lot

fi n d
of

u s e

people

f o r
in

c i v i l i a n
CAP

who

aren~'t aviators, now, and there are a lot of .jobs that take
people on the Q r'ound. Mle c-adets are not allowed to fly in any
missions, but I de~:y any state to run a mission without the
help oF cadets, because they are radio operators, they are
ground team personnel, they are runners, they serve for
marshalling airplanes on the line crews, and they do a
f a n t a s t i c i o b . Yo u d o n : ' t h a v e e n o u g h s e n i o r s i n m o s t w i n g s t o
do

that.

It

takes

the

cadets,

and

the

cadets

are

getting

valuable training and experience, and the .~ob is getting done.

I-'|: SO yOU feel like we'~re S'{'iJ.J. a ~;1o~.0d viable organization
.Fr'om a con;mur;ity service viewpoint.

M-"

Ve r y

HI

I aqree with that, wholeheartedly, Louisa.

M :

I

their

a l s o

d e fi n i t e l y.

t h i n k

ilives,

t h a t

quite

t h e

v a l u e

apart

.From

o f

t h e

p r o g r a m

aviation

-

of

t o

c a d e t s

course

the

i n

aviation

training

is

i n

A i r

C i v i l

hard

to

beat

P a t r o l ,

I

-

but

t h i n k

the

i s

traininq

e x t r e m e ] v

that

a

cadet

v a l u a b l e .

gets

1 4 :

a

y o u n g s t e r l e a r n s n o t h i n g m o r e t h a n t o s a y ' - ' " Ye s , s i r " a n d " Ye s ,
Ma'am" and stand up when an adult comes in the room and be neat
a n d

t i d y

i n

t h e i r "

c l o t h e s ,

t h e i r

t i m e

i n

C A P

i s

w e l l

s p e n t .

I

had a gas station owner" ask me one time if I could recommend
somebody to pump gas for him, and I said" "Well, what do you
want?"

He

said"

"I

can

teach

him

to

pump

gas,

but

I

can"t

teach him to have manners, and I want him to be polite to my
(:ustomers."

H :

T h a t ' s

a

appreciate

I

said:

g o o d
the

"Well,

p o i n t .

get

a

We l l ,

opportunity

to

CAP

cadet,

L o u i s a ,
do

this

l e t

then."

m e

s a y

interview

t h a t

with

I

you,

b e c a u s e y o u a r e o n e o f t h o s e v e r y s p e c i a l p e o p l e i n C A P, n o t
onlv to me but to a whale c~F a lot of other people, and I think
it."s impor'tant t:l-lat, when we re(zor'd, rather' than just a written
set of words, we qet a record (.~÷ your" feelings about CAP: and
that's ~hat we tr'ied t.o do tonight.

M"

i

some

appreciate
o.f

the

the

things

opportunity
on

tape.

to

I've

be

interviewed

been

a

very

firm

and

to

put

believer

in

the fact that be~:ore people ar'e - or at ].east while they are
still
tape.

around

to

do

it,

we

ought

to

get

their

words

down

on