President signs CAP medal into law

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Charles L. Carr, CAP
  • National Commander, Civil Air Patrol
President Barack Obama today signed into law S. 309, the bill awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to Civil Air Patrol for its service during World War II.
The legislation, approved in May 2013 by the Senate and last week by the House, recognizes the volunteer service of more than 120,000 men, women and teenagers who joined CAP immediately before and during the war. They helped protect the nation by warding off German U-boat attacks on American oil tankers bound for Allied nations. CAP’s early members also took to the skies to patrol the nation’s borders, tow targets for military training, watch for forest fires, conduct search and rescue missions, provide disaster relief, transport people and parts and conduct orientation flights for future pilots.

More information about CAP’s World War II service is available at the CAP Congressional Gold Medal website.
The numbers alone tell a story of heroic sacrifice: At least 59 CAP members were killed in the performance of their missions, with nearly half – 26 – dying during the coastal patrols. Those patrols alone accounted for 86,685 missions involving 244,600 flight hours and more than 24 million aerial miles.

CAP was founded Dec. 1, 1941, a week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The coastal patrols began within three months, after the Petroleum Industry War Council requested protection for oil tankers falling prey to German torpedoes. Over the next 15 months, members used their own planes to watch for U-boats, sometimes dropping bombs when they spotted one of the submarines.

The Congressional Gold Medal marks the first major recognition CAP’s members have received for their World War II service. Fewer than 100 are believed to be alive today.

“CAP is proud of the service our founding members provided in protecting the homeland, and we thank Congress for this recognition of their contributions to the war effort,” said Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr, CAP national commander.