Text: S.309 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 113-108 (05/30/2014)
[113th Congress Public Law 108]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
CIVIL AIR PATROL
CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
[[Page 128 STAT. 1164]]
Public Law 113-108
To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the
Civil Air Patrol. <<NOTE: May 30, 2014 - [S. 309]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: 31 USC 5111
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The unpaid volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol
(hereafter in this Act referred to as the ``CAP'') during World
War II provided extraordinary humanitarian, combat, and national
services during a critical time of need for the Nation.
(2) During the war, CAP members used their own aircraft to
perform a myriad of essential tasks for the military and the
Nation within the United States, including attacks on enemy
submarines off the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the
(3) This extraordinary national service set the stage for
the post-war CAP to become a valuable nonprofit, public service
organization chartered by Congress and designated the Auxiliary
of the United States Air Force that provides essential
emergency, operational, and public services to communities,
States, the Federal Government, and the military.
(4) The CAP was established on December 1, 1941, initially
as a part of the Office of Civil Defense, by air-minded citizens
one week before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, out
of the desire of civil airmen of the country to be mobilized
with their equipment in the common defense of the Nation.
(5) Within days of the start of the war, the German Navy
started a massive submarine offensive, known as Operation
Drumbeat, off the east coast of the United States against oil
tankers and other critical shipping that threatened the overall
(6) Neither the Navy nor the Army had enough aircraft,
ships, or other resources to adequately patrol and protect the
shipping along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the
United States, and many ships were torpedoed and sunk, often
within sight of civilians on shore, including 52 tankers sunk
between January and March 1942.
(7) At that time General George Marshall remarked that
``[t]he losses by submarines off our Atlantic seaboard and in
the Caribbean now threaten our entire war effort''.
(8) From the beginning CAP leaders urged the military to use
its services to patrol coastal waters but met with great
[[Page 128 STAT. 1165]]
resistance because of the nonmilitary status of CAP civilian
(9) Finally, in response to the ever-increasing submarine
attacks, the Tanker Committee of the Petroleum Industry War
Council urged the Navy Department and the War Department to
consider the use of the CAP to help patrol the sea lanes off the
coasts of the United States.
(10) While the Navy initially rejected this suggestion, the
Army decided it had merit, and the Civil Air Patrol Coastal
Patrol began in March 1942.
(11) Oil companies and other organizations provided funds to
help pay for some CAP operations, including vitally needed shore
radios that were used to monitor patrol missions.
(12) By late March 1942, the Navy also began to use the
services of the CAP.
(13) Starting with 3 bases located in Delaware, Florida, and
New Jersey, CAP aircrews (ranging in age from 18 to over 80)
immediately started to spot enemy submarines as well as
lifeboats, bodies, and wreckage.
(14) Within 15 minutes of starting his patrol on the first
Coastal Patrol flight, a pilot had sighted a torpedoed tanker
and was coordinating rescue operations.
(15) Eventually 21 bases, ranging from Bar Harbor, Maine, to
Brownsville, Texas, were set up for the CAP to patrol the
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, with
40,000 volunteers eventually participating.
(16) The CAP used a wide range of civilian-owned aircraft,
mainly light-weight, single-engine aircraft manufactured by
Cessna, Beech, Waco, Fairchild, Stinson, Piper, Taylorcraft, and
Sikorsky, among others, as well as some twin engine aircraft,
such as the Grumman Widgeon.
(17) Most of these aircraft were painted in their civilian
prewar colors (red, yellow, or blue, for example) and carried
special markings (a blue circle with a white triangle) to
identify them as CAP aircraft.
(18) Patrols were conducted up to 100 miles off shore,
generally with 2 aircraft flying together, in aircraft often
equipped with only a compass for navigation and a single radio
(19) Due to the critical nature of the situation, CAP
operations were conducted in bad weather as well as good, often
when the military was unable to fly, and in all seasons,
including the winter, when ditching an aircraft in cold water
would likely mean certain death to the aircrew.
(20) Personal emergency equipment was often lacking,
particularly during early patrols where inner tubes and kapok
duck hunter vests were carried as flotation devices, since ocean
worthy wet suits, life vests, and life rafts were unavailable.
(21) The initial purpose of the Coastal Patrol was to spot
submarines, report their position to the military, and force
them to dive below the surface, which limited their operating
speed and maneuverability and reduced their ability to detect
and attack shipping, because attacks against shipping were
conducted while the submarines were surfaced.
(22) It immediately became apparent that there were
opportunities for CAP pilots to attack submarines, such as when
a Florida CAP aircrew came across a surfaced submarine
[[Page 128 STAT. 1166]]
that quickly stranded itself on a sand bar. However, the aircrew
could not get any assistance from armed military aircraft before
the submarine freed itself.
(23) Finally, after several instances when the military
could not respond in a timely manner, a decision was made by the
military to arm CAP aircraft with 50- and 100-pound bombs, and
to arm some larger twin-engine aircraft with 325-pound depth
(24) The arming of CAP aircraft dramatically changed the
mission for these civilian aircrews and resulted in more than 57
attacks on enemy submarines.
(25) While CAP volunteers received $8 a day flight
reimbursement for costs incurred, their patrols were
accomplished at a great economic cost to many CAP members who--
(A) used their own aircraft and other equipment in
defense of the Nation;
(B) paid for much of their own aircraft maintenance
and hangar use; and
(C) often lived in the beginning in primitive
conditions along the coast, including old barns and
chicken coops converted for sleeping.
(26) More importantly, the CAP Coastal Patrol service came
at the high cost of 26 fatalities, 7 serious injuries, and 90
(27) At the conclusion of the 18-month Coastal Patrol, the
heroic CAP aircrews would be credited with--
(A) 2 submarines possibly damaged or destroyed;
(B) 57 submarines attacked;
(C) 82 bombs dropped against submarines;
(D) 173 radio reports of submarine positions (with a
number of credited assists for kills made by military
(E) 17 floating mines reported;
(F) 36 dead bodies reported;
(G) 91 vessels in distress reported;
(H) 363 survivors in distress reported;
(I) 836 irregularities noted;
(J) 1,036 special investigations at sea or along the
(K) 5,684 convoy missions as aerial escorts for Navy
(L) 86,685 total missions flown;
(M) 244,600 total flight hours logged; and
(N) more than 24,000,000 total miles flown.
(28) It is believed that at least one high-level German Navy
Officer credited CAP as one reason that submarine attacks moved
away from the United States when he concluded that ``[i]t was
because of those damned little red and yellow planes!''.
(29) The CAP was dismissed from coastal missions with little
thanks in August 1943 when the Navy took over the mission
completely and ordered CAP to stand down.
(30) While the Coastal Patrol was ongoing, CAP was also
establishing itself as a vital wartime service to the military,
States, and communities nationwide by performing a wide range of
missions including, among others--
(A) border patrol;
(B) forest and fire patrols;
[[Page 128 STAT. 1167]]
(C) military courier flights for mail, repair and
replacement parts, and urgent military deliveries;
(D) emergency transportation of military personnel;
(E) target towing (with live ammunition being fired
at the targets and seven lives being lost) and
searchlight tracking training missions;
(F) missing aircraft and personnel searches;
(G) air and ground search and rescue for missing
aircraft and personnel;
(H) radar and aircraft warning system training
(I) aerial inspections of camouflaged military and
(J) aerial inspections of city and town blackout
(K) simulated bombing attacks on cities and
facilities to test air defenses and early warning;
(L) aerial searches for scrap metal materials;
(M) river and lake patrols, including aerial surveys
for ice in the Great Lakes;
(N) support of war bond drives;
(O) management and guard duties at hundreds of
(P) support for State and local emergencies such as
natural and manmade disasters;
(Q) predator control;
(R) rescue of livestock during floods and blizzards;
(S) recruiting for the Army Air Force;
(T) initial flight screening and orientation flights
for potential military recruits;
(U) mercy missions, including the airlift of plasma
to central blood banks;
(V) nationwide emergency communications services;
(W) a cadet youth program which provided aviation
and military training for tens of thousands.
(31) The CAP flew more than 500,000 hours on these
additional missions, including--
(A) 20,500 missions involving target towing (with
live ammunition) and gun/searchlight tracking which
resulted in 7 deaths, 5 serious injuries, and the loss
of 25 aircraft;
(B) a courier service involving 3 major Air Force
Commands over a 2-year period carrying more than
3,500,000 pounds of vital cargo and 543 passengers;
(C) southern border patrol flying more than 30,000
hours and reporting 7,000 unusual sightings including a
vehicle (that was apprehended) with 2 enemy agents
attempting to enter the country;
(D) a week in February 1945 during which CAP units
rescued seven missing Army and Navy pilots; and
(E) a State in which the CAP flew 790 hours on
forest fire patrol missions and reported 576 fires to
authorities during a single year.
(32) On April 29, 1943, the CAP was transferred to the Army
Air Forces, thus beginning its long association with the United
States Air Force.
[[Page 128 STAT. 1168]]
(33) Hundreds of CAP-trained women pilots joined military
women's units including the Women's Air Force Service Pilots
(34) Many members of the WASP program joined or rejoined the
CAP during the post-war period because it provided women
opportunities to fly and continue to serve the Nation that were
severely lacking elsewhere.
(35) Due to the exceptional emphasis on safety, unit and
pilot training and discipline, and the organization of the CAP,
by the end of the war a total of only 64 CAP members had died in
service and only 150 aircraft had been lost (including its
Coastal Patrol losses from early in the war).
(36) It is estimated that up to 100,000 civilians (including
youth in its cadet program) participated in the CAP in a wide
range of staff and operational positions, and that CAP aircrews
flew a total of approximately 750,000 hours during the war, most
of which were in their personal aircraft and often at risk to
(37) After the war, at a CAP dinner for Congress, a quorum
of both Houses attended with the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and the President thanking CAP for its service.
(38) While air medals were issued for some of those
participating in the Coastal Patrol, little other recognition
was forthcoming for the myriad of services CAP volunteers
provided during the war.
(39) Despite some misguided efforts to end the CAP at the
end of the war, the organization had proved its capabilities to
the Nation and strengthened its ties with the Air Force and
(40) In 1946, Congress chartered the CAP as a nonprofit,
public service organization and in 1948 made the CAP an
Auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
(41) Today, the CAP conducts many of the same missions it
performed during World War II, including a vital role in
(42) The CAP's wartime service was highly unusual and
extraordinary, due to the unpaid civilian status of its members,
the use of privately owned aircraft and personal funds by many
of its members, the myriad of humanitarian and national missions
flown for the Nation, and the fact that for 18 months, during a
time of great need for the United States, the CAP flew combat-
related missions in support of military operations off the
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.
(1) Authorized.--The President pro tempore of the Senate and
the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall make
appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of Congress,
of a single gold medal of appropriate design in honor of the
World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol collectively, in
recognition of the military service and exemplary record of the
Civil Air Patrol during World War II.
(2) Design and striking.--For the purposes of the award
referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary of the Treasury
shall strike the gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and
inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.
[[Page 128 STAT. 1169]]
(3) Smithsonian institution.--
(A) In general.--Following the award of the gold
medal referred to in paragraph (1) in honor of all of
its World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol, the
gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian
Institution, where it shall be displayed as appropriate
and made available for research.
(B) Sense of congress.--It is the sense of Congress
that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold
medal received under this paragraph available for
display elsewhere, particularly at other locations
associated with the Civil Air Patrol.
(b) Duplicate Medals.--Under such regulations as the Secretary may
prescribe, the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the
gold medal struck under this Act, at a price sufficient to cover the
costs of the medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery,
and overhead expenses, and amounts received from the sale of such
duplicates shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public
(c) National Medals.--Medals struck pursuant to this Act are
national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States
Approved May 30, 2014.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 309:
Vol. 159 (2013):
May 20, considered and passed
Vol. 160 (2014):
May 19, considered and passed House.