• Civil Air Patrol seeks Congressional Gold Medal

    Posted on April 9th, 2012 John Dorcey No comments

    Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the most recent cosponsor of senate bill S.418. He signed the bill on March 26, 2012. So far five Wisconsin representatives have cosponsored the house version, H.R.719. The bills, if passed, will award the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II veterans of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Representative Bob Fisner (D-CA) introduced the bill on February 15, 2011. He has since been joined by 163 cosponsors. The Senate bill was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on February 28, 2011. Johnson brings the total senate cosponsors to 82.

    You might wonder what the Civil Air Patrol did to be considered for this prestigious award. The Coastal Patrol, as the CAP was originally known, was created by presidential executive order on December 1, 1941 as part of the Office of Civilian Defense. Antisubmarine operations using civilian volunteer pilots, flying their personal aircraft, began in March, 1942. The program lasted for 18 months. The civilian patrol experiment was an overwhelming success.

    During the 18 months of combat operations the Coastal Patrol sank two enemy submarines and attacked another 57. That success came with a cost. The Coastal Patrol lost 90 aircraft at sea, 26 crew members were killed, and seven were seriously injured. Fairchild Model 24s and Stinson 10As were two of the more common aircraft used but many other types were pressed into service. As the program developed, aircraft were armed with 50 and 100-pound bombs and 325-pound depth charges. The program began operations from three bases eventually growing to 21 facilities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

    WAHF inductee Logan A. “Jack” Vilas was active in the Coastal Patrol and founded an unofficial club for Coastal Patrol personnel. Coastal Patrol pilots who, during a mission, made a forced landing on the water were made members of the Duck Club. By the end of the 18 month program, 114 pilots survived a forced water landing. Pilots from 16 of the 21 Coastal Patrol bases were club members.

    The Coastal Patrol flew other than antisubmarine missions – target towing, search and rescue, border patrol, disaster relief, and emergency transport. During the war 60,000 adult members had volunteered to serve their country through the Coastal Patrol. A total of 824 Air Medals were awarded by executive order of the president for service as flight crew on antisubmarine missions for the Coastal Patrol. By the end of the conflict nearly 750,000 flight hours had been logged, while 150 aircraft were lost, and 64 members killed. Like the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) these aviators had been promised veteran’s benefits. Benefits never materialized for either group. The WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010.

    You can assist the CAP Congressional Gold Medal recognition effort in two ways. First, contact your senator and representative and ask them to support S.418 or H.R.719. Second, help locate CAP veterans. If you, or someone you know, served in the CAP between December 7, 1941 and August 15, 1945 and was 18 years old, or older, during that time you or they will be eligible for the award. Upload their information into the World War II Congressional Gold Medal database, or send it to Holley Dunigan.

    FMI: http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/guarding.html
    http://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/Gold_Medal_Feature__Swain_3CEB7EED6ABEB.pdf