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New Jersey Wing Commander



Col. Joe H. Abegg, Sr. has been an active member of Civil Air Patrol for over 45 years.  He is currently the New Jersey Wing Commander.

Col. Abegg joined CAP as a cadet in Illinois Wing in 1973.  By 1977 he had earned the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award, Ranger Expert, the Blue Beret (original school), and his CAP pilot wings.  He was nominated for the Air Force Academy and received an Air Force ROTC scholarship.  He is graduate from Saint Louis University, earning an aerospace engineer degree and Air Force commission. While serving as the AFROTC Detachment Cadet Commander of the AFROTC program, Col. Abegg also commanded a Civil Air Patrol squadron.  During his 26-year military career he served in numerous flying, command and control, and leadership assignments.  He was a C-141 Starlifter command and instructor pilot. His last assignment was the CAP-USAF Northeast Liaison Region Director of Reserve Forces and was twice chair of the National Reserve Forces Working Group. 

Col. Abegg transferred to the New Jersey Wing in 1981, where he has served as the Wing Director of Cadet Programs, Squadron Commander again, Group Commander, Chief Check Pilot, Chief of Stan/Eval, Chair of the Flight Evaluation Board, Director of Operations, and CAC Advisor.  In 1986, he was the lead pilot for the CAP National Search and Rescue (SAR) Competition’s winning team.  From 2005 through 2009 he served at CAP National Headquarters as the National Director of Emergency Services and led 26 national projects, chaired the National Emergency Services Committee and was a member of the National Operations Committee, the National Home Land Security Committee, and the National Coast Guard Subcommittee.  Col. Abegg has served two tours as the Northeast Region (NER) Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.  He led two NER comprehensive SAR Competitions, he led the first ever comprehensive NER Emergency Services Academy and he led plans for a National comprehensive SAR Competition slated for 2009 in Salina, Kansas.

He has been on staff at 25 Cadet Encampments (in six wings), 25 Region Staff Colleges (Northeast Region and Rocky Mountain Region – serving as a leadership lecturer, project officer, protocol officer, logistics officer, program analysis officer), and five National Cadet Special Activities.  Col. Abegg is a graduate of the Air War College, the Inland SAR School, the CAP National Crisis Coordination Center school, the CAP PAO Academy, and the Basic and Senior Inspector General schools. As a cadet he participated in the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) program and went to France in 1977.  In 2007, Col. Abegg had the honor of leading the first ever CAP team at the International SAR Competition in Canada.

Transitioning from Air Force active duty to the Air Force Reserves in 1987, Col. Abegg started his civilian airline career as a pilot with Pan Am Airlines.  During his time at Pan Am, he held a special assignment as a pilot with All Nippon Airlines in Japan.   After the Pan Am demise in 1992, he was hired at United Airlines where he has served as a DC-10 Line Check Airman and Captain on Boeing 757s/767s.  Other aircraft he has flown are the B727 and B747. Col. Abegg retired from the Air Force Reserves in 2006 as a Lt Col and is currently a United Captain flying Airbus 319s/320s and has over 28,000 flying hours.


BS in Aerospace Engineering, St Louis University 1980

AF ROTC Distinguished Graduate 1980

MS in Management, Adam Smith University 1999

Squadron Officer School 1982

Air Command and Staff College 1984

Air War College 2000


1975-1977 Illinois Wing Ranger School

1975 Illinois Wing Johnson Flight Academy

1977 National Blue Beret Academy (Ft Snelling, MN)

1985 National Staff College

2005 Incident Commander (Type 1) and Agency Liaison (Type 1)

2006 CISM School

2008 National PAO Academy

2016 Senior IG School

USAF Inland SAR School

USAF SAR Management Course

ICS 100, 120, G120, G130, 200, 300, 400, 402, 700, and 800 courses


CAP Pilot, Orientation Pilot and Mission Pilot since 1977

Command Pilot since 1986

Command Observer since 1987

Master Ratings in AE, CP, ES, PD, DA, DP and DO

Senior and Technical ratings in several other positions

FAA certified ATP AMEL, CFI ASEL, CFI AMEL and CFII since 1985.



1993-1999 CAP-USAF Wing Reserve Coordinator

1999-2006 CAP-USAF Region Director of Reserve Forces

1999 CAP-USAF lead agency liaison and lead reservist for JFK Jr. search

2003-2005 CAP-USAF lead for DoD exercise ARDENT SENTRY 

2004 and 2006 CAP-USAF National Chair of Reserve Forces Working Group (elected)  

  • Directed NER CAPRAP Disaster Relief efforts/preparations during five hurricanes, JFK Jr. search, 911 and Y2K 


2003-2004 National Coast Guard Missions Subcommittee

2004 National Flight Academy Glider (Ground School Instructor: Mattoon, IL)

2005-2007 National Director CAP New Madrid Task Force   

2005-2007 National Director Emergency Services  

  • National Project Officer for twin aircraft consideration, EPA/FEMA exercise, CAP Grey Flag

Exercise and International SAR Competition in Canada

2006-2007 National Emergency Services Committee Chair

2006-2007 National CAP Senior Agency Representative Coordinator  

2006-2007 National Operations Committee

2006-2007 National Homeland Security Committee 

2007-2008 National Emergency Services Special Projects Officer

2008 National Director of Operations (select)

2017-present National Uniform Committee

2018-2020 National Innovation Committee 


2007, 2009 Activity Director for Region SAR Competition

2008-2009 Director of Operations

2009-2010 and 2013-2014 Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

2014-2017 Operations/Emergency Services Training Officer

2014 Region Plans and Programs Officer

2014 Region Conference Project Officer

2016-Present Deputy Chief of Staff for Emergency Services (acting and assistant)


1981-1986 Director of Cadet Programs

1985, 1986, 1994, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2018 Wing Ground SAR School instructor/staff

1986-1988 Squadron Commander

1987-1989 Wing Chief Check Pilot

1987-1989 Wing Chief of Stan/Eval

1989 Wing Director of Operations 

2009-2010 Group 224 Aerospace Education Officer

2010-2013 Group 225 Commander, Personnel Officer, and Administration Officer 

2016-2017 Wing Inspector General team

2017-present Wing Commander


1973 Cadet – Clinton-Scott Composite Squadron (continuous membership since)

1978 Founded Oliver L. Parks Composite Squadron

1979-1981 Squadron Commander



DoD Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters)

Air Force Commendation Medal

Air Force Achievement Medal


CAP Exceptional Service Award (two bronze clasps)

CAP Meritorious Service Award (one silver clasp)

CAP Commanders Commendation Award (two bronze stars, one silver clasp, two bronze clasps)

CAP Achievement Award (four bronze clasps)

1976 Spaatz Award #0399

1980 ILWG Senior Member of the Year

1985 Gill Robb Wilson Award with Gold Star #0496

2009 National Colonel Ed Lewis Incident Command Staff Officer of the Year (first ever)

Captain, March 9, 1980
Major, April 12, 1983
Lieutenant Colonel, July 1, 1987
Colonel, July 15, 2017

(Current as of Sep 2020)

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