Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the 112th Congress to honor WW II members of the Civil Air Patrol. The two identical bills are intended to award a single Congressional Gold Medal to CAP in recognition of the highly unusual service performed by volunteer men and women of this organization who, using their own aircraft, conducted combat operations and other emergency missions during a period of great danger to America.
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 House, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif, has introduced H.R. 719.
The introduction of the two bills starts a national campaign to honor CAP veterans in time for the organization's 70th anniversary on Dec. 1, 2011. CAP was established in 1941, one week before Pearl Harbor.
Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, dais recently: "During WW 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 the 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 Theresa.
The award to Civil Air Patrol would be unusual in that a single medal would be awarded for the collective efforts of all CAP WW II adult members. Other organizations that have been recognized by Congress for their wartime contributions include the Navajo Code Talkers, Tuskegee Airmen and the Women's Air Force Service Pilots.
In order for this legislation to be considered by the appropriate congressional committees, 67 senators and 290 representatives must co-sponsor the legislation. Individuals and organizations interested in supporting this legislation should contact the offices of their two senators and their representatives to urge they become co-sponsors - in the Senate S. 418 and in the House H.R. 719. Questions concerning this legislation can be addressed to John Swain, CAP's Washington representative, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAP's WW II volunteers were a diverse group, consisting of men and women 18 to 81 years of age. Surviving CAP members from WW II who are no longer in CAP (or the families of those who are deceased) should contact Holley Dunigan at email@example.com or www.capmembers.com/goldmedal.
Sybille Angelika Castro; 2LT PAO, CAP, Kenai Squadron
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