WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the 112th Congress to honor World War II members of Civil Air Patrol. The two identical bills are intended to award a single Congressional Gold Medal to Civil Air Patrol in recognition of the service performed by the volunteer men and women of the organization who, using their own aircraft, conducted combat operations and other emergency missions during the war.
In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, introduced S. 418, along with Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. In the U.S. House, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., has introduced H.R. 719. The introduction of the two bills starts a national campaign to honor Civil Air Patrol veterans in time for the organization’s 70th anniversary on Dec. 1, 2011. CAP was established in 1941, one week before Pearl Harbor.
Inouye, commenting recently on the wartime service of Civil Air Patrol members, said, “During World War II, these courageous men and women dutifully patrolled our air space, searched for submarines off our coasts and provided our nation with whatever they were asked to give. They made the same sacrifices I and thousands of uniformed armed service members made during that historic conflict. They deserve our praise and should be honored for their service.”
The Congressional Gold Medal commemorates distinguished service to the nation and is considered by many to be the highest form of congressional recognition. Since 1776, only about 300 such awards have been given to a wide range of military leaders and accomplished civilians, including George Washington, John Glenn, Robert Frost, Douglas MacArthur and Colin Powell. Foreigners awarded the medal have included Winston Churchill, Simon Wiesenthal and Mother Teresa.
The award to Civil Air Patrol would be unusual in that a single medal would be awarded for the collective efforts of all CAP World War II adult members. Other organizations that have been recognized by Congress for their wartime contributions include the Navajo Code Talkers, Tuskegee Airmen and Women’s Airforce Service Pilots.
CAP and its members have received little recognition for their World War II service, particularly the anti-submarine coastal patrols, and were not granted veterans’ benefits. Other than some air medals for Coastal Patrol participants, CAP volunteers received little official recognition of their service.
In order for this legislation to be considered by the appropriate congressional committees, 67 senators and 290 representatives must co-sponsor the legislation.
CAP’s World War II volunteers were a diverse group, consisting of men and women 18 to 81 years of age. Surviving CAP members from World War II who are no longer in CAP (or the families of those who are deceased) should contact Holley Dunigan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-227-9142, ext. 236. For more information: CAPMembers.com/goldmedal
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 113 lives in fiscal year 2010. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 26,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 69 years For more information: Gocivilairpatrol.com