WASHINGTON, D.C. - March 1, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) who provided, as civilian volunteers using their own aircraft, extraordinary public and combat emergency services during World War II.  Joining Harkin, the Commander of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, in introducing the legislation were Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Begich (D-AK).

"With aircraft that was often only equipped with a compass and a single radio, and lacking any personal safety equipment, members of the civil air patrol flew over 24 million miles during World War II, playing a vital role in protecting the nation," said Senator Harkin. "These individuals courageously answered the call of duty and deserve to be honored for their extraordinary service."

"These brave men and women, using little more than the basic aeronautical instruments, dutifully patrolled our air space and searched for submarines off our coasts during World War II.  They made the same sacrifices that I and thousands of uniformed armed service members made during that epic conflict," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. "They deserve our praise and I am thankful that they will finally be honored for their service.  This recognition is long overdue."

"I could not be more pleased to recognize the heroic World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol by joining this critical bill," said Senator Snowe. "The volunteer civilian men and women of the Civil Air Patrol provided vital wartime service to the military, states, and communities nationwide.  Their selfless missions, ranging from search and rescue operations, to submarine patrols, to border patrol and forest fire patrol, just to name a few, contributed immeasurably to the welfare and safety of our nation.  We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have put their lives on the line for the security and protection of our nation, and I urge my Senate colleagues to join me in recognizing the many unsung heroes of World War II who served in the Civil Air Patrol."

"During World War II, American heroes were not only found on the shores of Normandy or Iwo Jima but were training fighter pilots and sinking enemy U-boats along the U.S. coast," Senator Wyden said. "The brave men and women of the Civil Air Patrol - some of whom gave their lives - deserve the highest honor their nation can offer which is why I have cosponsored this bill to award them the Congressional Gold Medal."

"The members of the Civil Air Patrol went well above and beyond the call during World War II, giving of themselves and their personal property to defend our nation," Senator Crapo said. "These brave Americans stood willing during a critical time of need for the nation and deserve the utmost recognition for their selfless service."

"This is a very deserving honor for these volunteers who were a critical part of the effort during World War II," said Senator Begich. "The Civil Air Patrol still operates in Alaska today and is a vital part of search and rescue efforts throughout our state."

In March of 1942, members of the Civil Air Patrol started an anti-submarine coastal patrol off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. CAP operations reported 173 submarines and found 325 survivors of attacks. There were more than 60,000 adult civilian members of the CAP in a 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. CAP operations were characterized by an exceptional emphasis on safety, discipline and organization.  However, by the end of the war, 64 members of the CAP had died in service.

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