H. R. 719
To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of
the Civil Air Patrol.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 15, 2011
Mr. FILNER introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee
on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration,
for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for
consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee
To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of
the Civil Air Patrol.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol (hereafter in this Act
referred to as the `CAP') during World War II, civilian men and women ranging
in age from 19 to 81, provided extraordinary public and combat services
during a critical time of need for the Nation.
(2) During the war, CAP members used their own aircraft to perform a myriad
of essential tasks for the military and the Nation within the United States,
including attacks on enemy submarines off the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
coasts of the United States.
(3) This extraordinary service set the stage for the post-war CAP to become
a valuable nonprofit, public service organization chartered by Congress
and the Auxiliary of the United States Air Force that provides essential
emergency, operational, and public services to communities, States, the
Federal Government, and the military.
(4) The CAP was established, initially as a part of the Office of Civil
Defense, by air-minded citizens one week before the surprise attack on Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii, on December 1, 1941, `out of the desire of civil airmen
of the country to be mobilized with their equipment in the common defense'
of the Nation.
(5) Within days of the start of the war, the German Navy started a massive
submarine offensive, known as Operation Drumbeat, off the east coast of
the United States against oil tankers and other critical shipping that threatened
the overall war effort.
(6) Neither the Navy nor the Army had enough aircraft, ships, or other resources
to adequately patrol and protect the shipping along the Atlantic and Gulf
of Mexico coasts of the United States, and many ships were torpedoed within
sight of civilians on shore, including 52 tankers sunk between January and
(7) At that time General George Marshall remarked that `[t]he losses by
submarines off our Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean now threaten our
entire war effort'.
(8) From the beginning CAP leaders urged the military to use its services
to patrol coastal waters but met with great resistance because of the nonmilitary
training and status of CAP pilots.
(9) Finally, in response to the ever-increasing submarine attacks, the Tanker
Committee of the Petroleum Industry War Council urged the Navy Department
and the War Department to consider the use of the CAP to help patrol the
sea lanes off the coasts of the United States.
(10) While the Navy initially rejected this suggestion, the Army decided
it had merit, and the Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol began in March 1942.
(11) Oil companies and other organizations provided funds to help pay for
some CAP operations, including vitally needed shore radios that were used
to monitor patrol missions.
(12) By late March 1942, the Navy also began to use the services of the
(13) Starting with three bases located in Delaware, Florida, and New Jersey,
CAP aircrews immediately started to spot enemy submarines as well as lifeboats,
bodies, and wreckage.
(14) Within 15 minutes of the first Coast Patrol flight, the pilot had sighted
a torpedoed tanker and was coordinating rescue operations.
(15) Eventually 21 bases, ranging from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Brownsville,
Texas, were set up for the CAP to patrol the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
coasts of the United States, with 40,000 volunteers participating.
(16) The CAP used a wide range of civilian-owned aircraft, mainly light-weight,
single engine aircraft--manufactured by Cessna, Beech, Waco, Fairchild,
Stinson, Piper, Taylorcraft, and Sikorsky, among others--as well as some
twin engine aircraft such as the Grumman Widgeon.
(17) These aircraft were painted in their civilian prewar colors (red, yellow,
blue, etc.) and carried special markings (a blue circle with a white triangle)
to identify them as CAP aircraft.
(18) Patrols were conducted up to 100 miles off shore, generally with 2
aircraft flying together, in aircraft often equipped with only a compass
for navigation and a single radio for communication.
(19) Due to the critical nature of the situation, CAP operations were conducted
in bad weather as well as good, often when the military was unable to fly,
and in all seasons (including the winter) when ditching an aircraft in cold
water would likely mean certain death to the aircrew.
(20) Personal emergency equipment was often lacking, particularly during
early patrols where inner tubes and kapok duck hunter vests were carried
as flotation devices since ocean worthy wet suits, life vests, and life
rafts were unavailable.
(21) The initial purpose of the CAP was to spot submarines, report their
position to the military, and force them to dive below the surface, which
limited their operating speed and maneuverability and reduced their ability
to detect and attack shipping.
(22) It soon became apparent that there were opportunities for CAP pilots
to attack submarines, such as when a Florida CAP aircrew came across a surfaced
submarine that quickly stranded itself on a sand bar. However, the aircrew
could not get any assistance from armed military aircraft before the submarine
(23) Finally, after a number of these instances, a decision was made by
the military to arm CAP aircraft with 50- and 100-pound bombs, and to arm
some larger twin engine aircraft with 325-pound depth charges.
(24) The arming of CAP aircraft dramatically changed the mission for these
civilian aircrews and resulted in more than 57 attacks on enemy submarines.
(25) While CAP volunteers received $8 a day flight reimbursement, their
patrols were accomplished at a great economic cost to many of the members
of the CAP who--
(A) used their own aircraft and other equipment in defense of the Nation;
(B) paid for much of their own aircraft maintenance and hangar use; and
(C) often lived in primitive conditions along the coast, including old
barns and chicken coops converted for sleeping.
(26) More importantly, the CAP Coastal Patrol service came at the high cost
of 26 fatalities, 7 serious injuries, and 90 aircraft lost.
(27) At the conclusion of the 18-month Coastal Patrol, the heroic CAP aircrews
would be credited with the following:
(A) 2 submarines destroyed or damaged;
(B) 57 submarines attacked;
(C) 82 bombs dropped against submarines;
(D) 173 radio reports of submarine positions (with a number of credited
assists for kills made by military units);
(E) 17 floating mines reported;
(F) 36 dead bodies reported;
(G) 91 vessels in distress reported;
(H) 363 survivors in distress reported;
(I) 836 irregularities noted;
(J) 1,036 special investigations at sea or along the coast;
(K) 5,684 convoy missions for the Navy;
(L) 86,685 missions flown;
(M) 244,600 total flight hours logged; and
(N) more than 24,000,000 miles flown.
(28) At least one high-level German Navy Officer credited the CAP with being
the primary reason that submarine attacks were withdrawn from the Atlantic
coast of the United States in 1943 when he said that `[i]t was because of
those damned little red and yellow planes!'.
(29) The CAP was dismissed from coastal missions with little thanks in August
1943 when the Navy took over the mission completely and ordered the CAP
to stand down.
(30) While the Coastal Patrol was ongoing, the CAP was also establishing
itself as a vital wartime service to the military, States, and communities
nationwide by performing a wide range of missions including--
(C) courier flights for mail, repair and replacement parts, and urgent
(D) emergency transportation of personnel;
(E) target towing (with live ammunition being fired at the targets and
seven lives being lost) and searchlight tracking training missions;
(F) missing aircraft and personnel searches;
(G) rescue of aircraft crash survivors;
(H) radar training flights;
(I) aerial inspections of camouflaged military and civilian facilities;
(J) aerial inspections of city and town blackout conditions;
(K) mock bombing attacks on cities and facilities to test air defenses;
(L) aerial searches for scrap metal materials;
(M) support of war bond drives;
(N) airport guard duties;
(O) support for State and local emergencies such as natural disasters;
(P) recruiting for the Army Air Force; and
(Q) a cadet youth program which provided aviation and military training.
(31) The CAP flew more than 500,000 hours on these additional missions,
(A) 20,500 missions involving target towing (with live ammunition) and
gun/searchlight tracking which resulted in 7 deaths, 5 serious injuries,
and the loss of 25 aircraft;
(B) a courier service involving 3 major Air Force Commands over a 2-year
period carrying more than 3,500,000 pounds of vital cargo and 543 passengers;
(C) southern border operations flying more than 30,000 hours, with 7,000
reports of unusual sightings including a vehicle (that was apprehended)
with 2 enemy agents attempting to enter the country;
(D) a week in February 1945 during which CAP units found seven missing
Army and Navy pilots; and
(E) a State in which the CAP flew 790 hours on forest fire patrol missions
and reported 576 fires to authorities during a single year.
(32) On April 29, 1943, the CAP was transferred to the Army Air Forces,
thus beginning its long association with the United States Air Force.
(33) Hundreds of CAP-trained women joined military women's units including
the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) program.
(34) Many members of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots program joined
or rejoined the CAP during the post-war period because it provided women
opportunities to fly and continue to serve the Nation that were severely
(35) Due to the exceptional emphasis on safety, unit discipline, and pilot
discipline, and the organization of the CAP, by the end of the war only
64 members of the CAP had died in service and only 150 aircraft had been
lost (including its Coastal Patrol losses from early in the war).
(36) It is estimated that more than 200,000 civilians were members of the
CAP in wide range of positions and that CAP aircrews flew a total of approximately
750,000 hours during the war, most of which was in their personal aircraft
and often at real risk to their lives.
(37) After the war, at a CAP dinner for Congress, a quorum of both Houses
attended with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President
thanking the CAP for its service.
(38) While air medals were issued for those participating in the Coastal
Patrol, little other recognition was forthcoming for those efforts or for
the other services the CAP volunteers provided during the war.
(39) Despite efforts to end the organization at the end of the war, the
CAP had proved its capabilities and strengthened its ties with the Air Force
(40) In 1946, Congress chartered the CAP as a nonprofit, public service
organization and in 1948 as the Auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
(41) Today the CAP conducts many of the same missions it performed during
World War II, including a vital role in homeland security.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.
(1) AUTHORIZED- The President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker
of the House of Representatives shall make appropriate arrangements for
the award, on behalf of Congress, of a single gold medal of appropriate
design in honor of the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol collectively,
in recognition of the military service and exemplary record of the Civil
Air Patrol during World War II.
(2) DESIGN AND STRIKING- For the purposes of the award referred to in paragraph
(1), the Secretary of the Treasury shall strike the gold medal with suitable
emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.
(3) SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION-
(A) IN GENERAL- Following the award of the gold medal referred to in paragraph
(1) in honor of the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol, the
gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall
be displayed as appropriate and made available for research.
(B) SENSE OF CONGRESS- It is the sense of Congress that the Smithsonian
Institution should make the gold medal received under this paragraph available
for display elsewhere, particularly at other locations associated with
the Civil Air Patrol.
(b) Duplicate Medals- Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe,
the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck
under this Act, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, including
labor, materials, dyes, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.
(c) National Medals- Medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals
for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS; PROCEEDS OF SALE.
(a) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be charged against
the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount not to exceed $30,000
to pay for the cost of the medal authorized under section 2.
(b) Proceeds of Sale- Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals
under section 2(b) shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public Enterprise