7/6/2012–Baltimore–Thanks to the efforts of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Sen. Ben Cardin and 85 of their colleagues, the Senate version of CAP’s Congressional Gold Medal (S 419) passed with unanimous consent May 10, 2012. This bipartisan bill was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin on February 28, 2011.
Cosponsors are vitally needed for the House CAP Congressional Gold Medal Bill (HR 719) before the 112th Congress ends in December. This bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Bob Filner on February 15, 2011. Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Donna Edwards, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have signed on as cosponsors. A total of 290 cosponsors are necessary before the bill will be addressed in committee and brought to the floor for a vote. It’s time for Maryland to GO FOR THE GOLD and have 100 percent of our Congressional Delegation as cosponsors!
During the war CAP members, as volunteer civilians, flew combat and humanitarian missions in support of the U.S. military using their own aircraft. CAP’s war service was extraordinary in that it included 18 months of combat operations between March 1942 and August 1943 when CAP possibly sank or damaged two enemy submarines and attacked 57 with small light aircraft armed with small bombs and depth charges.
The initial days of WWII were a time of extreme stress for the nation. General George Marshall remarked that “[t]he losses by submarines off our Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean now threaten our entire war effort.” At the request of the oil industry CAP was tasked by the Army to start anti-submarine coastal patrols off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts after 52 tankers were sunk between January and March 1942.
Patrols were conducted up to 100 miles off shore, generally in pairs, in aircraft often equipped with only a compass for navigation and a single radio for communication. Personal emergency equipment was lacking, particularly in the beginning, where inner tubes and duck hunter’s “kapok” vests were used flotation devices. CAP operations were conducted in bad weather, often when the military was grounded, and in all seasons including winter when ditching an aircraft would likely mean certain death.
CAP’s efforts helped push submarine activity well away from coastal shipping lanes. Other missions conducted during the war included target towing and air defense training, search and rescue, border patrol, disaster relief, forest fire patrol, ice patrol and emergency transportation of people and cargo as well as other critical activities. During the war 60,000 adult CAP members participated in the program. CAP members were never recognized for their wartime service and did not receive promised veteran’s benefits.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 54 lives in fiscal year 2011. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 70 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.
Nearly 1,600 members of CAP serve in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 29 search and rescue missions and were credited with 13 finds saving three lives. Maryland Wing flew over 160 missions for the State of Maryland resulting in 2,222 hours flown. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.2 million. For more information contact the Maryland Wing at www.mdcap.org.