World War II Civil Air Patrol members to be recognized with medal
- Published: Jul 17, 2014, 10 AM
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee discussed during a July 8 teleconference design themes for a congressional gold medal honoring World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol who flew combat and humanitarian missions.
The medal is authorized under provisions of Public Law 113-108, signed into law by President Obama on May 30.
John Swain, director of government relations for the Civil Air Patrol, presented CAP’s recommendations for suggested design themes to the CCAC and U.S. Mint.
Possible design elements suggested by Swain are:
- Two aircrew members, one male, one female.
- CAP light single engine aircraft.
- Recommended inscriptions: CIVIL AIR PATROL, 1941-1945.
- Two armed CAP light aircraft flying over an oil tanker.
- CAP Coastal Patrol roundel.
- Five primary CAP active service duty patches (Coastal Patrol, Southern Liaison Patrol, Forest Patrol, Missing Aircraft Search, and Courier Service).
The Civil Air Patrol was originally conceived in the late 1930s by legendary New Jersey aviation advocate Gill Robb Wilson. It was established on Dec. 1, 1941, six days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and the entry of the U.S. into World War II.
Soon after its establishment, CAP became involved in combat operations off the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
German U-boats were sinking merchant ships and oil tankers within sight of coastal communities along the East Coast. With the Army and Navy lacking the necessary patrol aircraft and vessels, losses of merchant vessels skyrocketed. The military authorized the CAP to establish coastal patrol flights, according to Swain.
CAP patrol flights, composed of two aircraft each, canvassed the costal shipping lanes of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
The flights forced enemy submarines to remain submerged and hidden while merchant ships safely transported oil, war materials, and soldiers.
In May 1942, the military armed CAP light personal aircraft with demolition and depth bombs, Swain said.
The CAP served in other missions on behalf of the war effort. CAP pilots towed aerial gunnery targets for live-fire anti-aircraft training and nighttime tracking missions for searchlights; CAP aircraft patrolled the Rio Grande to prevent illegal border crossings; a search and rescue service used CAP units to search for lost military aircraft; and many other activities.