Colonel Russell M. Opland, CAP has been the commander of the Delaware wing of Civil Air Patrol since August 2003. During his tenure as commander, Col. Opland has volunteered in excess of 8,000 hours, averaging 38 hours weekly in addition to his full time career as Chief Privacy and Information Security Officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
During his Civil Air Patrol career, Col. Opland has been recognized for his contributions and achievements with four Exceptional Service Awards, three Meritorious Service Awards, the Gill Robb Wilson Award, Delaware Wing Senior Member of the Year, Air Force Association Award for Outstanding CAP Achievements, rated “Outstanding” as Commander, 2005 Wing Compliance Inspection and rated “Outstanding” as Incident Commander, 2003 Evaluated SAR/DR exercise
In addition to his personal awards, the Delaware Wing was the recipient of many awards and recognitions under of Col. Opland’s leadership. Also during Col. Opland’s tenure, Delaware Wing, despite its small size, logged the most average flying hours per aircraft of any CAP wing in the nation, resulting in the wing receiving three new aircraft. Delaware cadets annually participated in national competitions for drill team and/or color guard and placed third or above nationally each year.
Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, and is comprised entirely of civilian volunteers. The wing commander is the senior corporate officer within a Civil Air Patrol wing and is responsible to the Civil Air Patrol Corporation and to the region commander for ensuring that corporate objectives, policies, and operational directives are executed within the wing.
CAP performs 95% of inland search and rescue missions in the continental U.S. as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. CAP volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief, and counter drug missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies. CAP has three missions: Cadet Programs, Emergency Services, and Aerospace Education. The cadet program provides youth (ages 12-21) the opportunity to serve their communities and develop into responsible citizens, inspiring them to become the next generation of pilots, engineers, mechanics, and aviation enthusiasts.
Civil Air Patrol had its beginning in Delaware and southern New Jersey in the first days of World War II tasked with patrolling coastal waters for enemy submarines. It was formed on December 1, 1941 and chartered as a non-profit, benevolent corporation by the U.S. Congress in 1946. Today, CAP continues to support federal, state and local agencies and communities with nearly 60,000 members, both cadets and officers.