To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members
of the Civil Air Patrol.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
February 28, 2011
Mr. HARKIN (for himself, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. INOUYE, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. WYDEN,
and Mr. BEGICH) introduced the following bill; which was read twice
and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
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 18 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 March 1942.
(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
(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
(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 freed itself.
(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
(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
(B) paid for much of their own aircraft maintenance and hangar use;
(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.
(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
(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 lacking elsewhere.
(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 loses from early in the
(36) There were more than 60,000 adult civilian members of the CAP
in 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.
(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 and Congress.
(40) In 1946, Congress chartered the CAP as a nonprofit, public service
organization and in 1948 as the Auxiliary of the United States Air
(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
(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
(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
(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 Fund.