WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate today presented a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of members of the Civil Air Patrol who, with extraordinary gallantry and dedication, saved countless lives during World War II. Prior to the presentation of the medal, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Listening to these stories, it is easy to forget that these were just private citizens who wanted to lend a hand. They also lent their planes, their two-way radios, even their own spare parts. They had no salary, only a stipend that came in such fits and starts that they nearly lost their housing.
“It’s easy to forget there was a time when flying 100 miles offshore was daunting. But there was, and these pilots braved the elements – and the U-boats for that matter – with only a special tin can to stay afloat should they go down. ‘If we could see half the runway … we flew,’ is how one pilot put it.
“They downright insisted on doing these things. They weren’t pressed into service. The government was pressed into letting them serve. Well thank God it was.
“It’s easy to forget, and some day, someone skimming the manifest of Gold Medals may ask, ‘just who were these men and women?’ But really, who weren’t they? They were clerks, bus drivers, doctors, mechanics, salesmen, and plumbers. They came from more than 1,000 cities and whistle stops. They flew with the unbounded determination of America.
“And we were lucky to have them up there.
“And so: for the World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Mint has a struck a Congressional Gold Medal, which we present now with full hearts and no small amount of wonder.”