Civil Air Patrol

Congressional Releases

Gold Medal Ceremony for WWII Civil Air Patrol Members Announced

Nov. 25

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate will present a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of members of the Civil Air Patrol whose valor and dedication saved countless lives during World War II.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will take part in the bipartisan, bicameral ceremony. 

A tradition dating back to the American Revolution, the Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow.   Pursuant to S. 309, enacted on May 30, 2014, a single medal has been struck to honor collectively the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol in recognition of their military service and exemplary record.  Founded just six days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Civil Air Patrol – which was comprised of civilian volunteer pilot and aviators – logged 500,000 flying hours during World War II, performing such duties as sinking U-Boats and saving crash victims.  On May 26, 1948, the Civil Air Patrol officially became an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.


The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm ET in National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol.  



Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Members of the Civil Air Patrol to Become Law

Congressional Gold Medals Will Go To WWII Civil Air Patrol Members 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today welcomed the signing of a law they cosponsored to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol, whose volunteer service helped protect the United States homeland during World War II.
Cochran and Wicker, both members of the Civilian Air Patrol (CAP) Congressional Squadron, cosponsored S.309 that President Obama signed into law on Friday.  Supported by the Mississippi Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, the new law honors CAP members who organized to offer public and combat emergency services during World War II.
“This is a well-deserved honor for those who gave of themselves and put their lives on the line to protect our nation during very dangerous times.  Mississippians can be proud of their participation in these volunteer air patrols and their important role in the American war effort,” said Cochran, who was the primary Republican sponsor of S.309 which was introduced with Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
“Veterans of the Civil Air Patrol from the Greatest Generation stepped up to serve our country under the most difficult circumstances,” Wicker said.  “This award is a way to pay tribute to their brave service. Their legacy lives on for today’s CAP, whose diligent work keeps us safe every day.”
Volunteers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts organized to form the Civil Air Patrol soon after the United States entered World War II.  CAP organizations volunteered private aircraft and resources to support anti-submarine patrols. More than 60,000 members of the Civil Air Patrol logged an estimated 750,000 hours of flight time during the war, reported 173 submarines and located more than 300 survivors of attacks.  Sixty-four members died in service during World War II.
Today, the modern Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and a nonprofit organization.  Its members perform 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.  Its volunteers also perform disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.  
S.309 passed the Senate in May 2013 by unanimous consent, and enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives when it was passed earlier this month.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), today announced that the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) who provided extraordinary public and combat emergency services during World War II. Harkin and Cochran are the lead Senate sponsors of the measure while McCaul and Cuellar have led the effort in the House.  The legislation passed the U.S. Senate in May 2013 and now goes to President Obama’s desk for signature.
“The Civil Air Patrol is one of the unique institutions in our country.  This legislation will offer long overdue recognition to a courageous group of individuals who answered the call to duty at our nation’s time of greatest danger,” said Senator Harkin, the Commander of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.  “Flying aircraft that were often only equipped with a compass and a single radio, and lacking any personal safety equipment, CAP members flew over 24 million miles during World War II, playing a vital role in protecting the nation. This Congressional Gold Medal will ensure that their story is told over and over again for future generations, and it recognizes CAP and its WWII members for their critically important service to our nation.”
“Threats that arose during World War II were not just overseas, but also to our homeland.  Those in the Civil Air Patrols, including Mississippians who helped monitor the Gulf Coast, effectively deployed civilian aircraft to protect our shores from these dangers,” said Senator Cochran. “I’m pleased that this legislation to honor the selfless service and sacrifice of the Civil Air Patrol will now go to the President to be signed into law.”
"The awarding of the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Civil Air Patrol ensures that long overdue and proper recognition has finally been bestowed upon these brave men. The Civil Air Patrol's valiant efforts in defending our coastline, providing combat services, and flying dangerous humanitarian missions in America during World War II embodies the American Spirit of volunteerism. These brave men were an integral part in defending not only our homeland, but also our principles of freedom and liberty. I am proud Congress has taken this step to recognize all of the important work the Civil Air Patrol did nearly 70 years after its founding," said Representative McCaul, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Lt. Colonel of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.
“The Civil Air Patrol was comprised of volunteers who banded together on December 1, 1941 to create a volunteer air patrol to defend their country,” said Representative Cuellar.  “I am honored to recognize the Civil Air Patrol for their contributions and service to our country during World War II. This Congressional Gold Medal recognition is long overdue and well deserved.”
In March of 1942, members of the Civil Air Patrol started an anti-submarine coastal patrol off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. CAP operations reported 173 submarines and found 325 survivors of attacks. There were more than 60,000 adult civilian members of the CAP in a wide range of positions, and CAP aircrews flew a total of approximately 750,000 hours during the war, most of which were in their personal aircraft and often at real risk to their lives. CAP operations were characterized by an exceptional emphasis on safety, discipline and organization. However, by the end of the war, 64 members of the CAP had died in service.

Video of the House vote following presentations by U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.
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