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John W. Desmarais Sr.

John W. Demarais Sr., Chief Operating Officer

John W. Desmarais is the chief operating officer at Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters. In this role, he manages the day-to-day operations of National Headquarters.

This includes ensuring CAP’s compliance with all applicable U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Defense, and federal grants laws/directives along with centralized procurement of all major equipment, vehicles, and aircraft. He also serves as executive secretary of the CAP Board of Governors — the organization’s governing body.

Desmarais was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a bachelor’s degree in aviation business administration focused on management information systems with a minor in safety of flight and a master’s degree in aeronautical science specializing in aviation/aerospace safety systems.

He also graduated from CAP National Staff College, the Air Force’s Squadron Officers School, Air Command and Staff College, Incident Management Course, Basic Inland Search and Rescue Course, Inland Search and Rescue Planners Course, and the National Interagency Counterdrug Institute’s Military Support to Civil Authorities Course. 

He is a certificated private pilot, incident command system instructor, first responder instructor, and a technicianclass amateur radio operator. He is also a certified professional innovator, a designation earned through Project Mercury Cohort 7 at Air University in 2022. 

Desmarais joined Civil Air Patrol as a cadet in 1987 and has served in the organization ever since, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2003. He holds Master ratings in Emergency Services and Cadet Programs and is also a qualified incident commander, aircrew member, and ground team leader.

Since arriving at National Headquarters in 1995, he has moved up progressively, serving as director of operations since 2012 before becoming COO. In 1996, he founded the National Emergency Services Academy, one of CAP’s premier national events.

In 2001, he served as one of the national-level duty officers responding to the events of 9/11. In 2002, he 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.

In addition to his normal duties as director of operations, he has represented CAP in varied industry forums addressing emergency management youth aviation, rated diversity initiatives, and aviation career-focused supply issues across the country.

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