CAP Cadet History Project

Cadet Officers are Authorized, 1945:

Officers were authorized by Training Directive 36 in August 1945.  The insignia was 2 1/2" X 1 3/4" black satin squares with embroidered gold bars.  Initially, the plan was to introduce miniature enlisted insignia embroidered on the same black satin squares.  However, the plan for the enlisted insignia was not fully implemented when all financial support was withdrawn from CAP in the Spring of 1946.  Cadet officers wore the black and gold insignia, while the enlisted cadets continued to wear the same full-size chevrons as in WWII. 

See the original training directive.

C/Col Daniel Kish receives his Spaatz award from Maj Gen Moffitt, December 1965

Not quite ready for the moment:

​CO Wing Cadets Phillip Biersdorfer and Michael Arhutick accept their Earhart awards, 1967

Recommended reading: promotion and "table of organization."

Enlisted Cadet Insignia, 1942-49:

Cadets wore the "full-sized" chevrons on their sleeves, just like the Senior Members.  The first style worn was the khaki on red.  Within a couple of years, CAP transitioned to the Army Air Force blue and white chevron.

The only grades available for cadets from 1942-45 were: Private (no stripe), Private First Class, Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, and First Sergeant.  However, local commanders did not strictly adhere to the grade restrictions.  Cadet squadron commanders in Minnesota Wing were promoted to C/1st Lieutenant, and other Minnesota Wing cadets are seen wearing C/Sergeant 1st Class (5 stripes).  See the interview with Lt Col Harlan Petersburg under Cadet Stories.    Cadets were only promoted if they held a position that called for increased grade.

Officially, the highest grade a cadet could hold was First Sergeant which was reserved for the CAPC unit commander.

CAP and CAPC adhered to the "table of organization" concept until 1964.

Cadet's service coat from about 1964.  Note the buttons on the coat and shoulder board, also that the C/Maj insignia is pin-back.

Enlisted cadet chevrons, 1949-56

The titles were: Private (no stripe), Private First Class, Corporal, Sergeant, and First Sergeant.

IACE in Calgary, Canada, August 1948

​Note the Indiana Wing patch on the right shoulder, and the WWII era pilot's wings.

Enlisted Cadet Insignia, 1957:

CAP introduced a new cadet program in 1957, and added more enlisted grades.  Cadets could also permanently hold the grade of C/Maj. C/Lt Col and C/Col were temporary grades reserved for large events. 

The miniature chevrons were inverted in 1960 to resemble the "gull wing" insignia of the Air Force.  Cadets wore these until the metal chevrons were released in 1978.  They were worn halfway between the elbow and shoulder seam.  Only the titles changed:

1956-68: Cadet, Cadet Third Class, Cadet Second Class, Cadet First Class, Cadet Staff Sergeant, Cadet Technical Sergeant, Cadet Master Sergeant, Cadet First Sergeant

1968-78, Changed to reflect Air Force enlisted titles, although "Airman" is not mentioned until the 1990s: Cadet, Cadet First Class, Cadet Sergeant, Cadet Staff Sergeant, Cadet Technical Sergeant, Cadet Master Sergeant, Cadet First Sergeant


This style was used 1944-49.

An early image that bridges the old and new cadet officer insignia.  Cloth C/Capt left and metal C/Capt right.  IACE with Canada, 1948.


New Cadet Officer Shoulder boards are Introduced, 1964:

The shoulder boards were rolled out as part of the new cadet program that was introduced in 1964.  They were considered "grade insignia."  These were worn on male and female winter and summer uniforms, although some variation is noted, especially with female cadets.  This was possibly due to the size of the shoulder boards, and supply issues.  Shoulder boards were viewed as an incentive, and a symbol of the prestige of being an officer.  Over the next 14 years, the shoulder boards were worn inconsistently.  Some cadets continued to wear their officer insignia on the right side of the collar.

Frustratingly, most cadet officer insignia was pin-back.  See below.  

Cadets with the grade of C/Warrant Officer were not allowed to wear the shoulder boards until 1977.

Cloth Officer Grade for Fatigues:

Cloth CAP and insignia for cadet officers was released around 1966.  It was originally OD green which was phased out July 1976.

Limited use:

The initial plan was to transition to this miniature grade insignia, with grades of Private 1st Class, Corporal, Sergeant, and as pictured above, 1st Sergeant.  When all military support was withdrawn in the Spring of 1946, this plan was canceled.  This author has seen only one photo of this insignia in use.

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From the Civil Air Patrol Manual, 1949.

Note the C/Capt insignia on the cadet's left arm.
First IACE between Canada and the US, 1948
Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver

Grade Insignia, 1949-56:

Cadets transitioned to "miniature" 2 inch square blue and white chevrons, which were worn halfway between the elbow and the shoulder seam.  Only 5 grades were possible from 1949-56: Private, Private First Class, Corporal, Sergeant, First Sergeant.

CAP eliminated the black and gold cloth officer insignia and officially adopted Army ROTC's pip and lozenge insignia for cadet officers.  The cadet officer grades were illustrated in the 1949 Civil Air Patrol Manual, Cadet 2nd Lieutenant through Colonel.  The design of the insignia is still in use today.  Officer promotions were restricted (one C/1st Lt and one C/2nd Lt per flight, one C/Capt per Squadron) and no guidance was published for promotion above C/Capt.  Some Wings violated this rule.  In the October 18, 1955 edition of Contact, a CAP newsletter, members were sternly admonished: "Several Wings have recently submitted for publication in CAP News stories which indicated serious violations of CAP regulations... Two such stories told of cadets who have attained the rank of Major.  CAP Regulation 20-1... authorizes a maximum grade of cadet captain for CAP cadets... there is no legal basis for a CAP cadet to have a rank above cadet captain." 

Male cadet officers wore their grade insignia on the right side of the collar and on the service coat epaulets until officer shoulderboards were rolled out in 1964.  Female officers wore their insignia on the collar until a new female uniform was introduced in 1952.  Female cadet officers then wore their insignia on the uniform's epaulets, 1952-68.

Cadets wore their officer grade on their flight cap.

Unfortunately, most officer grade was pin-back.

Chevron images are from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Special Collections.

From the CAP News, December 1963

This style was used 1942-45