natcapwg.cap.gov
Main Content

Wing History

National Capital Wing History

Civil Air Patrol's National Capital Wing cadet drill team deplanes at Amarillo AFB, Texas, before the national drill competion in 1956.

Civil Air Patrol's National Capital Wing cadet drill team deplanes at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, before the national drill competition in 1956.

During the initial formation of Civil Air Patrol during 1941-1942, there were no airfields suitable for CAP use in the District of Columbia, so members living in Washington, D.C., were assigned to units in Maryland Wing or Virginia Wing depending on where their operating base was located. Subsequently, references to Washington Squadron, Congressional Squadron, and Capital Squadron were made in local newspapers from 1942-1944. Washington Group and Capital Group were also mentioned leading into 1948. It is possible that this was a single squadron that went through name changes and eventually transitioned onto a group. These units were assigned to the Maryland Wing. Maj. Joseph C. Berling was the last commander of Capital Group.

National Headquarters Civil Air Patrol General Order Number 2 activated the District of Columbia Wing on March 3, 1948. The wing was the 50th CAP wing (currently 52 wings). It was created to serve as a model for the nation and its territories, to be readily available for the proving of new procedures and policies, and for the purpose of demonstrating to distinguished foreigners the work of Civil Air Patrol.

After one month, the District of Columbia Wing was redesignated as the National Capital Wing on April 7, 1948.

National Capital Wing does not support a state government. The District of Columbia, the state-equivalent government supported by the National Capital Wing, is an entity of the federal government. The federal government considers the geographic area defined in the National Capital Region (NCR) Planning Act of 1952 as a single operational entity. National Capital Wing serves federal customers throughout the NCR with assistance as needed from CAP's Maryland Wing and Virginia Wing. The wing also assists Maryland Wing and Virginia Wing in providing service to state and local customers as requested. At least 66 units have existed within National Capital Wing since activation.

In a 1987 attempt to clarify the wing's boundaries, a territorial agreement was signed between the wing commanders at the time. This designated the "Capital Beltway" as the boundary of the wing but also created exemptions for already established units inside and outside. The beltway boundary, which splits official county lines, was never a hard line as to establishing new squadrons. There are currently units of Maryland Wing, Virginia Wing, and National Headquarters within the "beltway" boundaries.


Wing Emblem and Shoulder Patch

In June of 1955, Civil Air Patrol members began to wear the wing emblems as uniform shoulder patches in place of the national CAP emblem.


National Capital Wing Awards

  • Unit Citation Award: For the search and rescue mission of the downed B-52 Nuclear Bomber Buzz One Four 13 Jan 1964. (The supporting documents are being searched for, and it is recorded on a 31 Oct 1983 printout from NHQ.)
  • Unit Citation Award: For unknown reasons 1 Jan 1977 – 31 Dec 1977. (The supporting documents are being searched for, and it is recorded on a 31 Oct 1983 printout from NHQ.)
  • Unit Citation Award: For the emergency response to Air Florida Flight 90 Crash and Metro Train Collision 13 Jan 1982 – 14 Jan 1982. (National Headquarters Personnel Action Number NHQ 12, 22 Apr 1982)
  • Unit Citation Award: For meritorious service 31 Aug 1990 – 31 Aug 1992. (National Headquarters Personnel Action Number 76, 11 Dec 1992)
  • Unit Citation Award: For service to Presidential Inauguration 7 Jan 1997 – 20 Jan 1997. (National Headquarters Personnel Action Number NHQ 30, 30 Jun 1997)
  • Unit Citation Award: For outstanding achievement, exceptional service, and high degree of performance 1 Jan 2016 – 31 Dec 2019. (National Headquarters Personnel Action Number NHQ 14, 4 Mar 2021)

Note: Members that were assigned to the wing or its subordinate squadrons during the award period may wear the Unit Citation Ribbon.


National Capital Wing Commanders

Maj. Joseph C. Berling
3/3/1948 - 8/15/1948

Col. Melvin E. Tyrell
8/15/1948 - 1/16/1951

Col. Donald D. Webster
1/16/1951 - 1/28/1952

Col. Newbern Smith
1/28/1952 - 2/9/1954

Lt. Col. Donald T. Speirs
2/9/1954 - 2/9/1956

Col. F. Joseph Donohue
2/9/1956 - 4/1/1961

Col. Samuel R. Lipscomb
1/4/1961 - 9/1/1961

Col. Daniel E. Evans, Jr.
9/1/1961 - 7/15/1966

Col. George P. Upright
7/15/1966 - 1/26/1969

Lt. Col. Robert T. S. Colby
1/26/1969 - 9/6/1969

Col. Robert C. Stokes
9/6/1969 - 7/12/1971

Col. George A. Cox
7/12/1971 - 12/31/1973

Col. Charles X. Suraci, Jr.
1/1/1974 - 12/31/1976

Lt. Col. Rolf A. Mitchel
1/1/1977 - 6/15/1977

Col. Alfred E. Morris
6/15/1977 - 4/22/1981

Col. Ronald A. Quander
4/22/1981 - 5/23/1987

Col. Costello N. Robinson
5/23/1987 - 7/1/1992

Col. Gene D. Hartman
7/1/1992 - 8/19/1995

Col. Stanley Voyiaziakis
8/19/1995 - 8/1/1996

Col. Roland L. Butler
8/1/1996 - 8/12/2000

Col. Franklin J. McConnell, Jr.
8/12/2000 - 8/12/2004

Col. Jane E. Davies
8/12/2004 - 3/14/2009

Col. Richard Cooper, Jr.
3/14/2009 - 3/15/2013

Col. Bruce Heinlein
3/15/2013 - 3/11/2017

Col. Janon D. Ellis
3/11/2017 - 3/13/2021

Col. David E. Sterling
3/13/2021 - present

© 2021 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.