SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Over a thousand generous men and women make up the Civil Air Patrol Arizona Wing from decorated veterans to civilians.
CAP is an entirely volunteer-based extension of the United States Air Force. The group provides disaster relief, rescue missions, youth training and more.
One member, 2nd Lt. Francisco Arvizu, embodies the spirit of CAP. He not only served 12 years in the army, later earning a Purple Heart for his service after 16 months in Iraq, but he's also saved lives at home off-duty.
Lt. Arvizu was traveling to Tucson when he noticed massive plumes of dust and "immediately thought of an IED in Iraq." Lt. Arvizu pulled over and responded to the scene saving almost an entire family. He says, "I pulled out the driver, two children, the mother and the grandmother who unfortunately didn't survive."
Lt. Arvizu credits his selfless actions to the time he spent in the army. His career began at 14-years-old as a member of the Civil Air Patrol which inspired Lt. Arvizu to join the army the day after he graduated from high school.
CAP holds a diverse range of members including all ages from 12-years-old and up. There are veterans like Lt. Arvizu, civilians and sometimes physicians with a passion for flying like Maj. Blattstein. "It gives you a chance to do actual missions, more than just a hamburger run for flying," she says.
A long-time member of CAP Col. Morris led the group from 2016 to 2020 until she passed the torch to Col. Pinckard. He says, "There's no money. There's friendships and experiences that you can't get any other way and that's what I look forward to."
The Civil Air Patrol Arizona Wing is always looking for volunteers. Learn more at azwg.org.