Lt. Colonel John Desmarais
Provost & Project Support Officer
Lt Col John W. Desmarais, Sr. is currently serving as the Director of Operations at National
Headquarters (HQ CAP/DO) Civil Air Patrol (CAP). CAP, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, is Congressionally
chartered to perform Homeland Security and Emergency Service Missions, Aerospace Education, and Cadet
Programs for America.
In his current assignment, John serves as the headquarters point of contact for all
emergency services, counterdrug, and homeland security matters, as well as supervising program managers
for communications, the national operations center, the national technology center, standardization and
evaluation, and chaplain services. Lt Col Desmarais interfaces with federal, state, and local personnel on
operations issues, and assists the CAP leadership in formulating the policies, program goals, and objectives for
CAP with the USAF and other counterpart agencies at the national level.
Lt Col Desmarais was born in Woonsocket, RI on the 27th of August 1973. He graduated from Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University with a Bachelors degree in Aviation Business Administration focused in Management
Information Systems with a minor in Safety of Flight, and a Masters degree in Aeronautical Science specializing
in Aviation/Aerospace Safety Systems. Lt Col Desmarais has also graduated from the CAP National Staff
College, the US Air Force’s Squadron Officers School, Air Command and Staff College, and Inland Search and
Rescue (SAR) Planners Course at the National SAR School, and the National Interagency Counterdrug
Institute Military Support to Civil Authorities Course. John is also a pilot, critical incident stress management
peer and instructor, certified first responder instructor, and a technician class amateur radio operator.
Lt Col Desmarais joined CAP as a cadet in 1987. He holds Master’s ratings in Emergency Services and Cadet
Programs, and is also a mission qualified incident commander, aircrew member and ground team leader. Prior
to his current assignment since arriving at National Headquarters in 1995 he has served as the Chief of
Operations Support, Chief of Emergency Services, Emergency Services Plans Officer, and Special Activities
Program Manager. Lt Col Desmarais is also an active volunteer in CAP, having served in a variety of positions
within the Rhode Island, Florida, and Alabama Wings and Southeast Region.
Lt Col Desmarais has also had
several special assignments in his CAP career. While still a cadet, he founded the Rhode Island Ground
Search and Rescue School in the summer of 1991. In 1996 he founded the National Ground Search and
Rescue School that was transformed and incorporated into the National Emergency Services Academy (NESA)
in 1998, which he still supports as project officer and provost as well as President of the NESA Alumni
Association. In 1998 he helped establish the national emergency services curriculum project that developed
much of the training curriculum used by the CAP mission staff today.
In 2001 then Major Desmarais served as
one of the national level duty officers responding to the events of September 11th, 2001. In 2002 John served
as the national headquarters project officer for CAP support to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2003
he served as an agency liaison for CAP’s support to Task Force Columbia and also assisted in the
development of the CAP Concept of Employment for CAP Homeland Security Operations.
addition to his normal duties, Lt Col Desmarais has been supporting Citizen Corps as CAP’s Affiliate
representative and the Medical Reserve Corps as CAP’s representative to the Deployment Work Group.
His CAP awards and decorations include but are not limited to the Exceptional Service Award, Meritorious
Service Award with two Bronze Clasps, Commander’s Commendation with one Silver and four Bronze Clasps,
Certificate of Lifesaving, Unit Citation with four Bronze Clasps, Command Service Ribbon, Search and Rescue
Ribbon with two Silver Clasps, Find Ribbon with two Silver Clasps and one Bronze Propeller, Disaster Relief
Ribbon with “V” Device, Counterdrug Ribbon with two Bronze Clasps, Community Service Ribbon, and CAP’s
highest academic award – the Gill Robb Wilson Award. Lt Col Desmarais was also selected as the National
Headquarters Employee of the Year for 2002, and received the President’s Call to Service Award in 2008 for
his volunteer work with CAP.
Lt Col Desmarais also holds several industry affiliations. He is an associate member of the Airborne Law
Enforcement Association, a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, International Critical
Incident Stress Foundation, and the International Association of Emergency Managers, and a life member of
the National Association of Search and Rescue and the Air Force Association.