Senate passes Congressional Gold Medal Bill by Unanimous Consent

The Gold Medal Bill would recognize Civil Air Patrol members' service to the country during World War II.


This wartime Coastal Patrol service was considered highly unusual because these “subchasers” were civilian volunteers flying combat missions at great personal risk. Of the 59 CAP pilots killed during World War II, 26 were lost while on Coastal Patrol duty, and seven others were seriously injured while carrying out the missions.

Since the war, CAP has become a valuable nonprofit, public service organization chartered by Congress. It is the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, charged with providing essential emergency, operational and public service to communities and states nationwide, the federal government and the military. Under the congressional charter, CAP’s core missions are emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

Its more than 61,000 members fly some 112,000 hours annually, performing 90 percent of inland search and rescue in the U.S. – as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies – and carrying out aerial reconnaissance for homeland security, providing aerial imagery to document the effects of natural or manmade disasters and assisting federal law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs.

The organization’s support for aerospace education in the schools and the community includes providing support for educational conferences and workshops nationwide and developing, publishing and  distributing, without charge, national academic standards-based aerospace education curricula focusing on the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – for kindergarten through college classrooms.

CAP’s 27,000 members in the cadet ranks, ages 12 through 20, receive training in four main program areas – leadership, aerospace, fitness and character development – and each year the organization’s cadets account for about 10 percent of the new class entering the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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 President George Washington, Col. John Glenn, poet Robert Frost and Gens. Douglas MacArthur and Colin Powell. Foreigners awarded the medal have included Winston Churchill, Simon Wiesenthal and Mother Teresa.

The award to CAP would be unusual in that a single medal would be awarded for the collective efforts of all 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.
 

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent 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 54 lives in fiscal year 2011. 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 leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 70 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.

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