WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), today announced that the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved bipartisan legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) who provided extraordinary public and combat emergency services during World War II. Harkin and Cochran are the lead Senate sponsors of the measure while McCaul and Cuellar have led the effort in the House.  The legislation passed the U.S. Senate in May 2013 and now goes to President Obama's desk for signature.

"The Civil Air Patrol is one of the unique institutions in our country.  This legislation will offer long overdue recognition to a courageous group of individuals who answered the call to duty at our nation's time of greatest danger," said Senator Harkin, the Commander of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.  "Flying aircraft that were often only equipped with a compass and a single radio, and lacking any personal safety equipment, CAP members flew over 24 million miles during World War II, playing a vital role in protecting the nation. This Congressional Gold Medal will ensure that their story is told over and over again for future generations, and it recognizes CAP and its WWII members for their critically important service to our nation."

"Threats that arose during World War II were not just overseas, but also to our homeland.  Those in the Civil Air Patrols, including Mississippians who helped monitor the Gulf Coast, effectively deployed civilian aircraft to protect our shores from these dangers," said Senator Cochran. "I'm pleased that this legislation to honor the selfless service and sacrifice of the Civil Air Patrol will now go to the President to be signed into law."

"The awarding of the nation's highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Civil Air Patrol ensures that long overdue and proper recognition has finally been bestowed upon these brave men. The Civil Air Patrol's valiant efforts in defending our coastline, providing combat services, and flying dangerous humanitarian missions in America during World War II embodies the American Spirit of volunteerism. These brave men were an integral part in defending not only our homeland, but also our principles of freedom and liberty. I am proud Congress has taken this step to recognize all of the important work the Civil Air Patrol did nearly 70 years after its founding," said Representative McCaul, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Lt. Colonel of the Congressional Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.

"The Civil Air Patrol was comprised of volunteers who banded together on December 1, 1941 to create a volunteer air patrol to defend their country," said Representative Cuellar. "I am honored to recognize the Civil Air Patrol for their contributions and service to our country during World War II. This Congressional Gold Medal recognition is long overdue and well deserved."

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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