Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Members of the Civil Air Patrolby Representative Michael T. McCaul
Posted on 2014-05-19
McCAUL. Mr. Speaker, one week from today, Americans all across
this country will celebrate Memorial Day to pay tribute to the brave
men and women of our armed forces who died defending our freedom. I
will join in honoring our fallen and I will especially remember people
like my father, James Addington McCaul, a World War II veteran who
served as a Bombardier on a B-17 known as the Flying Fortresses.
Airmen like my father have been glorified in movies and are the subject of countless books and stories familiar to the American people. Yet one group of Americans critical to the war fighting effort has long been overlooked: the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol (or ``CAP''). Today this House will finally bestow upon them the recognition they deserve for their valiant efforts to save Americans and protect our coastlines-a service they still provide in defense of our homeland. The bill before us, S. 309, which passed the Senate unanimously, will award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol, the highest civilian honor. I am proud to be the sponsor of H.R. 755, the House companion bill, which is cosponsored [[Page H4456]] by more than 350 members of the House of Representatives from all fifty states.
CAP's World War II story is unique and not well known across the nation. It is also reflective of the volunteer spirit that has been a hallmark of the nation since its founding days.
The Civil Air Patrol was officially established on December 1, 1941 just one week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II these unpaid volunteers provided extraordinary humanitarian and combat services during a critical time of need for the nation. CAP members used their own aircraft to perform a myriad of essential tasks including attacks on enemy submarines off the Atlantic coast and along the Gulf of Mexico.
The success of the coastal patrol service spawned other missions on behalf of the war effort. These included nighttime tracking missions for searchlights. Along the Rio Grande, CAP aircraft flew 30,000 hours to prevent illegal border crossings and report unusual activities. CAP's courier service carried over 3.5 million pounds of cargo, flying more than 20,000 miles daily. Its search and rescue service helped locate lost military aircraft in isolated mountains and forested terrain. Fire patrols, disaster relief, medevac, and observation flights to check the effectiveness of blackouts, were but a handful of the other operations completed by CAP.
During the war, over 200,000 Americans served in CAP. Notably, the Civil Air Patrol served as a pioneering opportunity for the nation's women to serve the nation in uniform. Countless women received flight training, representing a catalyst for increasing female participation in civil aviation. By war's end CAP volunteers had flown more than 750,000 hours with a total loss of 65 members and 150 aircraft.
Postwar, CAP became a valuable nonprofit, public service organization chartered by Congress. Today it is the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, charged with providing essential emergency, operational and public services to communities nationwide and the military.
More than seventy years after CAP's founding, I am proud that Congress is taking this step to recognize the invaluable service CAP provided to the nation during World War II. I especially want to recognize Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa, the sponsor of the bill before us, who has been a tireless champion for the Civil Air Patrol. Senator Harkin has been a member of CAP for 30 years and is a commander of the Congressional Squadron.
I urge my colleagues to support S. 309 and join me in honoring the Civil Air Patrol.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Huizenga) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, S. 309.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.