Across the nation 304 Civil Air Patrol World War II members have been confirmed and at least a dozen others are awaiting confirmation to receive this honor.
The State of North Carolina has nineteen confirmed recipients. The seven living WWII veterans and their hometowns are listed below:
• Casimir A Barcynski
• Jewell Bailey Brown
• Weldon C. Fields Sr.
• Clive Goodwin Jr.
• Raymond B Kleber
• Gilbert Russell
• Paul Sigmon
The deceased members from North Carolina and their hometowns are listed below:
• William P Bridges
• Melvin R Daniels
• Frank E Dawson
• Paul J Little
• James L Miller
• Martin Miller
• Marvin B Overcash
• Pauline R Overcash
• Vernon C Rudolph
• Theodore E Sellers
• Annie A Stevenson
• Helen P Yelton
The Congressional Gold Medal ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. in Statuary Hall at the Capitol. About 40 living World War II members and their relatives as well as the families of deceased members will be in attendance. Later that evening a celebratory dinner sponsored by CITGO will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where bronze replica medals will be presented to the World War II-era CAP members courtesy of the oil giant. Sunoco and Sunoco Logistics are also major sponsors of the events.
Some 200,000 men, women and teenagers from all walks of life – including stars of the silver screen and successful businessmen, future Tuskegee Airmen and aspiring pilots – participated in CAP during the war years, largely without recognition or reward. The organization was founded Dec. 1, 1941, six days before Pearl Harbor.
During the war members of CAP’s coastal patrols, flying their own or borrowed planes, flew 24 million miles from March 1942-August 1943 over the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in order to ward off German U-boat attacks against U.S. shipping – especially domestic oil tankers bound for Europe to help fuel the military machine. They did so at the request of the U.S. Petroleum Industry War Council, because the U.S. Navy lacked the resources to guard against the submarine attacks and provide escorts for commercial convoys.
The CAP coastal patrols, flying out of 21 bases located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to the southern tip of Texas, spotted 173 U-boats and attacked 57. They also escorted more than 5,600 convoys and reported 17 floating mines, 36 bodies, 91 ships in distress and 363 survivors in the water. Other pioneering Civil Air Patrol members patrolled the country’s borders by air, vigilant for potential saboteurs. In addition, they towed targets for military trainees, watched for forest fires, conducted search and rescue missions, provided disaster relief and emergency transport of people and parts and conducted orientation flights for future pilots.
In all, 65 CAP members lost their lives in the line of duty by the end of the war.
The Senate passed legislation authorizing the Congressional Gold Medal in May 2013, with the House following suit a year later. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law May 30.
“I salute CAP’s founding members for their legacy of service and sacrifice in protecting the homeland during World War II,” said Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, CAP’s national commander. “Now, some 73 years later, CAP’s rich history of service continues. Modern-day members, nearly 60,000 strong, still perform vital homeland security missions, search and rescue missions and provide emergency response for natural and manmade disasters.”
In-depth information about CAP and its World War II missions and members, including those listed above, can be found at www.capgoldmedal.com.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 59,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals 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 more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for over 72 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.