John Collier took this photo of the civilian pilots — known as ‘flying minutemen’– in June 1943 at the Civil Air Patrol base in Trenton, Maine.
The Maine base was home to the Coastal Patrol during World War II, one of 21 bases stretched along the East Coast to Lantana, Fla. Volunteers patrolled the waters off Maine searching for enemy U-boats and escorting merchant ships. It was a full-time job, and dangerous. More than 90 Coastal Patrol planes overall were lost, and 26 men drowned or died from exposure.
Not all flying minutemen were pilots; they were also mechanics, radio operators and office staff. Some pilots — like Cpl. Gladys M. Pier in Maine — were women. They generally used their own planes, and starting in the summer of 1942 carried small bombs and depth charges to attack Nazi submarines. Two kills of German subs were reported.
From March 5, 1942 to August 31, 1943, the Coastal Patrol flew 86,865 missions, reported 91 ships in distress, reported 17 floating mines and rescued 363 survivors of U-boat attacks.
Guy Gannett, who owned a Maine newspaper chain, was one of the architects of the Civil Air Patrol, which began just before Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941.
On June 13, 1942, the Office of War Information was created to inspire patriotism and support for World War II. Documentary photographers from the Farm Security Administration were transferred to the OWI. The OWI produced films, texts, photographs, radio programs and posters featuring subjects such as defense manufacturing, training for war work, women in the workforce, patriotic celebrations and the armed forces.
For more historic photos of Civil Air Patrol Base #20, click here.