On Legislative Day, Civil Air Patrol Seeks Congressional Gold Medal Support

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Civil Air Patrol commanders will be on Capitol Hill Thursday to gather legislative support for a Congressional Gold Medal to “rightly honor” CAP’s founding members who helped safeguard America during the early days of World War II.

Civil Air Patrol commanders from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will converge on Capitol Hill Thursday to brief congressional members on how CAP’s primary missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs make a difference in their communities.

This year, these delegations will have an additional charge – to gather legislative support for a Congressional Gold Medal to “rightly honor” CAP’s founding members who helped safeguard America during the early days of World War II.

Identical bills in the Senate and House of Representatives – S. 418 and H.R. 719 – call for the awarding of a Congressional Gold Medal to CAP in recognition of the highly unusual service performed by its World War II members who, often using their own aircraft, displayed heroism that discouraged and eventually stopped deadly German U-boat attacks on supply ships leaving American ports headed to support the Allied war effort.

This wartime Coastal Patrol service was considered highly unusual because these “subchasers” were civilian volunteers flying combat missions at great personal risk at a time when the military could not adequately respond to the U-boat threat. 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.

“These members from our earliest days as an organization helped save lives and preserve our nation’s freedom,” said CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr. “They were truly unsung heroes of the war, using their small private aircraft to not only search for enemy submarines close to America’s shores, but also to tow targets for military practice, to transport critical supplies within the country and to conduct general airborne reconnaissance. They provided selfless service, without fanfare, in defense of their homeland.”

CAP’s Legislative Day push for sponsorship is important because time, instead of a German sub, is now the enemy of the roughly 60,000 CAP volunteers from World War II. Only a few hundred are still alive today.

“We want to make sure those who remain, and those who have passed, are rightly honored for their great service to America,” said Carr.

In addition to asking for Congressional Gold Medal support, CAP commanders will note modern-day achievements on Thursday, including providing aerial reconnaissance after tornadoes, winter storms, flooding caused by spring thaws and summer rains, wildfires, hurricanes and tsunamis in 2011. Also, CAP members helped save 54 lives across the U.S. through search and rescue missions and conducted counterdrug and drug interdiction operations that helped seize more than $475 million in illegal drugs and currency, leading to 212 arrests.

To find out more about the Congressional Gold Medal effort, go to http://www.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, 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 http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com or http://www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.

Civil Air Patrol contacts:
Julie DeBardelaben
Deputy Director, Public Affairs
CAP National Headquarters
jdebardelaben(at)capnhq(dot)gov
334-549-2224

Steve Cox
Public Affairs Manager
CAP National Headquarters
scox(at)capnhq(dot)gov
877-227-9142, ext. 251

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Steve Cox
Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters
887-227-9142 251
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