NEW YORK (WWTI) — An organization of citizen airmen is turning 80.

The Civil Air Patrol is celebrating its 80th anniversary since its formation on December 1. The force is based on civilian volunteers and served nearly 1,500 communities across the country.

CAP was founded in the earliest days of War War II on December 1, 1941. It was first organized to “mobilize the nation’s civilian aviation resources for national defense services.”

Now eight decades later it is noted as a premier public service organization that carries out emergency service missions when needed, both in the air and on the ground. Missions include those surrounding emergency service and disaster relief. Programs also include aerospace education and cadet programs.

Throughout the years, CAP has led missions in the Second World War, in the latter half of the Cold War, helped to assist following the September 11 attacks and has responded to major natural disasters such as hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Additionally, in 2015, CAP was designated as an official member of the U.S. Air Force’s Total Force by Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III. It is now listed as a Total Force partner and Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

The Civil Air Patrol has 56,000 members who volunteer in communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields. More about the Force can be read on its website.