Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today announced that the U.S. Senate has unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) who provided, as civilian volunteers using their own aircraft, extraordinary public and combat emergency services during World War II. The legislation, which currently has 85 cosponsors, was introduced last year by Crapo and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Begich (D-AK). It now goes on to the U.S. House for consideration.
"The brave members of the Civil Air Patrol gave of themselves at a time of great need for our nation, flying combat and humanitarian missions voluntarily," Crapo said. "Their great sacrifice and service to our nation deserves the utmost recognition."
"This legislation will offer long overdue recognition to a courageous group of people 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. "Seventy years ago, during the height of World War II, Civil Air Patrol members successfully located and deterred German U-boats off the Atlantic Coast. This was a time of great peril for the nation when over 400 ships were sunk in U.S. waters, many in view of Americans on shore. Because the military did not have enough aircraft and ships to stop the carnage, American civilians stepped into the breach. When the war ended, CAP members did not receive the recognition they deserved. Their story, over time, was lost to much of the nation. This Congressional Gold Medal will ensure that this 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."
"I am very pleased that these brave men and women will finally be recognized for their sacrifices and heroic efforts during World War II. The Civil Air Patrol was critical to our national defense during that great conflict and this award is long overdue. The members of the Civil Air Patrol shared the same motivation and love of country that my fellow soldiers and I felt during our battles in the European theater. Their efforts are to be commended," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient.
"I could not be more pleased to recognize the heroic World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol by joining this critical bill," said Senator Snowe. "The volunteer civilian men and women of the Civil Air Patrol provided vital wartime service to the military, states, and communities nationwide. Their selfless missions, ranging from search and rescue operations to submarine patrols contributed immeasurably to the welfare and safety of our nation. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have put their lives on the line for the security and protection of our nation, and I am pleased the Senate has recognized the many unsung heroes of World War II who served in the Civil Air Patrol."
"During World War II, American heroes were not only found on the shores of Normandy or Iwo Jima but were training fighter pilots and sinking enemy U-boats along the U.S. coast," Senator Wyden said. "The brave men and women of the Civil Air Patrol - some of whom gave their lives - deserve the highest honor their nation can offer which is why I have cosponsored this bill to award them the Congressional Gold Medal."
"I am proud to have joined 84 Senators in sponsoring this important recognition. CAP volunteers stepped forward during one of the most difficult times in our nation's history. They were an important element in protecting the United States by, among other things, patrolling the Eastern Seaboard for enemy submarines," said Begich. "I salute the more than 61,400 CAP members nationwide and particularly the more than 900 members in Alaska. This bill brings well deserved and long overdue recognition to those early volunteers who paved the way for the organization that we know and respect today".
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.