CLENT BREEDLOVE
CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING PROGRAM
PRE-FLIGHTS PROGRAM
1939-1945

Plainview PGS Article 50


Civil Air Patrol Protected the Home Front Over the Atlantic as well as Plainview


By John W. McCullough, Graduate Student in History, Texas Tech University

This is the 50th article about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field.

On the night of June 12, 1942, eight German agents arrived at the United States to spy and commit acts of sabotage.  They landed on the shore of Long Island in rubber boats.  They had been brought to the coastal waters of the U.S. by U-boat.

They brought with them over $100,000 in U.S. currency and a large amount of dynamite along with fuses and timing devices.  Their instructions were to commit acts of sabotage against U.S. factories and businesses.

The leader of the group decided to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Investigation a few days later and he turned in all of his accomplices who were quickly rounded up and arrested.

Their arrest was front page news and was especially topical due to the fact that a motion picture with a very similar theme had been released only about six months earlier, All Through the Night, starring Humphrey Bogart.

In 1943, Hollywood would release a motion picture detailing the events of the failed sabotage act and called it They Came to Blow Up America.  A part of the advertisement for the movie read “It happened before!  Will it happen again?”

In the February 1, 1943 edition of the Plainview Evening Herald, the Civil Air Patrol’s work in countering enemy submarine threats and incursions by enemy agents into the United States was lavishly praised.

“The work of the Civil Air Patrol, and the part of a Texan in developing the valuable defensive role it is playing, was described by Representative Sumners (D-Tex) on the House floor.”

According to data released by Sumners, the Texas Wing of the CAP ranked seventh in size among all states, continued the Herald.

“Compiled as of Oct. 31, 1942 there were 3,060 members enrolled in the Texas C.A.P.  They comprised 14 separate command groups, made up to 45 local squadrons scattered from the Rio Grande to the Red River.”

Rep. Sumners credited Major D. Harold Byrd of Dallas as having much to do with the creation of the C.A.P. in Texas.  Byrd was currently serving as the commanding officer of the Texas wing.

“Each of the 48 states has a local C.A.P.  or wing, and the total membership is 62,979, as of Oct. 31, 1942.  The number now is estimated at approximately 67,500.”

“One of the primary functions of the C.A.P., observed Sumners, is to patrol along coastal waters in search of Axis submarines.  Recently, many of the civil planes have been equipped to carry bombs to release on enemy undersea craft.”

Sumners continued by stating that one of the first assignments given to the C.A.P. was to patrol coastal waters searching for German U-boats which had been taking a very heavy toll on Allied shipping.  The number of blimps for this type of duty were few and U.S. Army and Navy aircraft were urgently needed elsewhere, said the Herald.

“The flying minutemen flew their little ships to hastily improvised bases,” continued Sumners.

“They brought their own radios, repair parts, tools, and equipment, starting from scratch to fly their single-motored landplanes over the winter ocean unarmed and with no more protection than their kapok life jackets.”

The picture of the CAP in Plainview was just as rosy and their job also was to keep vigil over the Hale County area and report suspicious activity.

Truman C. Meinecke, who was a First Lt. in the CAP and commander of squadron D-1, commented that he was “justly proud of his unit’s showing when compared with the average over Texas,” stated the Plainview Evening Herald on February 26, 1943.

“Meinecke drummed for aviation in Plainview when chance planes in this direction had to land on cow pastures, and it is to be expected that his organization would be among the best.”

According to an article written by Harry Igo entitled, “Plainview in the Air”, Truman Meinecke indeed was instrumental creating Plainview’s aviation future.

“In 1940, a group of air-minded citizens, headed by Mr. Truman Meinecke, formed a flying group and this started the history of aviation in Plainview.  The group purchased an Aeronca coupe plane and used a plowed wheat stubble field southeast of the city for an airport.”

Furthering Plainview’s push towards an aviation status was Emmett Morris of Lubbock.  Emmett Morris came to Plainview from Lubbock in October 1940 and captivated ten students into flying in the Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program.  They decided to use a sod pasture about five miles north of Plainview at the small community of Finney.

“Although the CAP requests that squadron membership and number of planes not be publicized, Meinecke said it could be stated that squadron D-1 is well supplied with both fliers and ships,” continued the Herald.

“In the squadron are several inveterate fliers (businessmen and farmers) who take the stick at every opportunity.  They have been doing formation flying and in many ways keeping in practice.”

When speaking of the future direction of the CAP, Meinecke added, “There is a possibility that the Army will take the CAP in hand sooner or later.”

“That will not mean, Meinecke says, that CAP fliers will be in the Army, but it will mean that they will have to deliver the goods, attend meetings, study and drill, or get out.”

“He is not afraid of his squadron’s ability to come up to scratch, nor of its determination to keep its good standing.”

Prior to starting pre-glider training at Finney Field on June 1, 1942, Clent Breedlove was named as head of the Civil Air Patrol unit in Lubbock.

“Organization, purpose, program and enlistment details were announced Wednesday by Clent Breedlove, who Tuesday was informed by the eastern wing command he had been appointed group commander for this area of the Civil Air Patrol,” stated the Lubbock Morning-Avalanche on January 1, 1942.

The article went on to say that President Roosevelt had ordered that the CAP was “to marshal civilian aviation resources of the country for national defense service.”

More about the history of Finney Field will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are asked to visit the Breedlove-CPTP website at www.breedlove-cptp.com for more details about the glider program of WWII.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at (806)793-4448 or email johnmc@breedlove-cptp.org.