Lt Col Allan T. Stein served as a US Air Force pilot on missions over China and the Sea of Japan during World War II. He served in Vietnam as the operations officer for the 360 TEWS: Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron. By the time he retired he had flown everything from BT-13s and B-24s to C-47s and B-52s. He ended his career as inspector general of the Civil Air Patrol during the years in which Jim Garrison connected CAP members David Ferrie, Barry Seal and Lee Harvey Oswald. He retired on August 1st 1969 after serving as the CAP-USAF Inspector General for Civil Air Patrol.
In 2005, Lt Col Stein published a biography “Into the Wild Blue Yonder: My Life in the Air Force” through Texas A&M University Press. He was disgusted with the corruption he encountered in the Civil Air Patrol as he was with the tendentious reporting he met in Saigon’s Hotel Caravelle. This disgust is recorded in Chapter 12 of his biography, parts of which are presented below.
Chapter 12: The Final Air Force Days
When I rotated back to the states in June, 1967, I wanted to go back to Maxwell Air Force Base. We had bought a house in Montgomery and I had left Eva and the kids there… I took an assignment to the air force headquarters of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP-USAF) as the inspector general at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, because it was the only opening available at Maxwell Air Force Base.
I was in charge of a team of inspectors who traveled around the country inspecting state Wings for search capability and compliance with air force directions. My inspection team consisted of one lieutenant colonel as director of inspection and three master sergeants who were specialists in supply, maintenance, and operations.
It was my duty as inspector general to determine the effectiveness of each unit and make recommendations to the air force and to the CAP commanders of the units. There are some very fine people involved in the CAP…
However there were also some Wings whose people used the CAP to further their own agendas.
Prior to an inspection, I would send a letter to the Wing commander advising him of the date of the inspection. I wanted to determine the effectiveness of the organization and our inspection team could not be as effective in a social environment. They are supposed to instill a desire for flying in young people, which hopefully they do. However, at that time, they took advantage of their situation to raise money that was spent on lavish parties for a small group of top commanders and their wives.
I discovered some of the civilians in charge of the CAP were very powerful politically. Although it was an Air Force Auxiliary, CAP-USAF headquarters had very little control over the CAP. For example, a former CAP supporter, who was a millionaire friend and financial supporter of President Johnson got CAP-USAF headquarters moved from Ellington Air Force Base near Houston into a new building that had been designated for the ROTC headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base. When the air force commander of CAP-USAF tried to gain control of the CAP, the previously mentioned CAP commander called President Johnson and told him there was a “dead general” there, and asked him to please remove the “body.”
Another CAP commander, who was a multi-millionaire from Delaware wanted the CAP rank of the commander to be increased to brigadier general. Fortunately the Air Force held the line and refused his request.
Some, but not all, CAP officers liked to try to pass themselves off as real air force officers.
Two regional commanders had a regulation passed that all CAP members must have insurance for injuries suffered while on CAP duty… however one of the regional commanders owned the insurance company and another one owned the bank where the money was deposited that was collected from the members at an interest rate well below the going interest rate at the time. They were collecting ten dollars a year from each cadet in the United States. What a money making deal and of course, the Air Force had no control over it.
During an inspection of one of the wings, the supply inspector uncovered a discrepancy… thousands of high-value items, such as Jeeps, trucks, generators, radio equipment, radio stations… could not be accounted for. When I confronted the wing commander, a CAP colonel, he was very evasive. I told him I would stay indefinitely until I found all the government material. At that point he told me he knew where it was and we could take a flatbed truck and pick up the equipment, but in so doing we would black out a lot of ranches in the area because they all had Air Force generators. The trucks and jeeps were also at those ranches. He told me he intended to contact the state senator, who at that time was very powerful in the U.S. Senate. He also stated that he did not think the senator would be very happy with the air force in general and with me in particular.
It finally came to me why the Wing Commander, a CAP colonel who was an obscure air force reserve captain, had a mobilization assignment in Washington D.C. He was the senator’s “number one boy” who was buying votes for the senator with the misappropriated air force property. I contacted my commander and explained the situation to him…. the senator was too powerful… I left with political thieves openly stealing from the air force.
A few of the air force’s senior officers who were involved and about to retire saw the CAP as a possible way of feathering their nests after retirement. They put themselves at the service of the more wealthy and influential members of the CAP. For example, after one of their lavish parties at Maxwell Air Force Base, two staff members from the Ohio Wing asked to be flown back home by air force transport. One of them wanted to get back in time to attend church. The other one wanted to sleep late. The air force commander of CAP-USAF provided two aircraft for their convenience. I flew the second one and passed the first one on his way back. The temptation to play along with these millionaires and politically influential people is more than some people can handle.
In the September 1999 issue of Air Force magazine, the following article appeared:
Federal agents with search warrants seized Civil Air Patrol records, data, and computer files in five states on July 21. The FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations confiscated records at the CAP national headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and at wings in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and West Virginia in conjunction with “the alleged misuses of appropriated funds by CAP personnel,” said AFOSI spokesman Major Steve Murray.
According to Donna Leinwand of Gannett News Service, “The Air Force accused the 60,000 member group, known for its search and rescue operations, of mismanaging federal money, traveling first class on the taxpayer tab, retaliating against members who pointed out abuses and losing track of its equipment. Auditors said they could not account for 70 percent of the federally purchases communications equipment in one branch of the group.” Civil Air Patrol officials have denied the allegations.
The inspection and seizure of these records is long overdue. While there have undoubtedly been some changes in the operations and control of the CAP, the principle is still the same: Get all you can from the government.
After a couple of years of the Civil Air Patrol inspector general fiasco, I had just about all I could take. I did no think they would ever consider me for the position of chief-of-staff, so when they started talke about another year in Vietnam, I felt my family needed me more than the air force needed me in Vietnam, so I retired. This was probably another career mistake, but I was ready to move on. So on August 1, 1969, I retired.