Congressional Gold Medal Honors Civil Air PatrolCongressional Gold Medal honors Civil Air Patrol’s World War II service
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Forty-six founding Civil Air Patrol members were present today to see the organization honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for the service they and more than 200,000 other CAP volunteers provided during World War II, when they helped protect U.S. shipping against German U-boat attacks and carried out other vital wartime domestic missions.
Speaker of the House John Boehner presented the medal to CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez and former U.S. Rep. Lester Wolff, who served in CAP’s New York Wing during the war, in a 40-minute ceremony that began at 3 p.m. Eastern time in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol.
Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas all spoke before the presentation, describing CAP members’ acts of selfless service in volunteering to help protect the homefront during the war.
The CAP members being honored “were just private citizens who wanted to lend a hand. They also lent their planes, their two-way radios and their replacement parts,” Boehner said.
“They weren’t pressed into serving – the government was pressed into letting them serve.”
“World War II could have turned out a lot differently if not for the men and women of the Civil Air Patrol,” McConnell told the gathering.
“Today’s gold medal may be overdue, but it’s well-deserved. It’s the highest civilian honor we can bestow, and we’re proud to bestow it.”
Reid acknowledged the service of the World War II members present while also praising those no longer alive to see their service recognized. “Their acts of heroism and bravery will never be forgotten,” he said.
Wolff described the full scope of CAP’s wartime service, telling his audience that the Coastal Patrol mission “began in the dark days following Pearl Harbor, when submarines were sinking oil tankers within sight of East Coast cities.”
“For 18 months we patrolled the Atlantic and Gulf coasts hunting submarines, escorting thousands of ships and searching for attack survivors,” he said.
Coastal Patrol pilots flew 24 million miles through 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.
Flying out of 21 bases located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to the southern tip of Texas, Coastal Patrol pilots 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.
Elsewhere, CAP members patrolled the country’s southern border by air, vigilant for potential saboteurs. Others 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, including 26 Coastal Patrol participants.
“Every one of those lives was given to defend this nation,” Wolff said. “We accept this award particularly for those who did not come home.”
In introducing Wolff, Vazquez referred to the World War II members as “brave and heroic citizen volunteers from America’s greatest generation. They served valiantly on the home front and along the coasts, helping to save lives and preserve our nation’s freedom.”
Along with the 46 members present, more than 50 other pioneering CAP members were represented by family members attending the ceremony.
The gold medal will be placed on permanent display in the Smithsonian Institution. Three-inch bronze replicas will be presented to the veterans and families tonight at a celebratory dinner sponsored by CITGO 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 Logistic are also major sponsors of the events.
In addition to the bronze replicas being distributed tonight, World War II members and families unable to attend today’s events will be presented with replicas of their own in local ceremonies later. Anyone wishing to buy a replica will be able to do so by ordering through the U.S. Mint starting Thursday.
The story of CAP's World War II service and its members' wartime experiences can be found on the organization's Congressional Gold Medal website.
Honor Veterans and Help the IDaho Suicide Prevention HOtline
24/7 Phone Response
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, a program of Mountain States Group, Inc., is committed to the prevention of suicide in Idaho. The hotline provides crisis intervention, emotional support, resource referrals, linkages to local services, and follow-up for all Idahoans, including those at risk for suicide and their families and loved ones. ISPH listens supportively to callers, empowering them to look at options and come up with their own solutions.
The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK), celebrated its second anniversary of operations by expanding its hours to 24/7 phone response November 26, 2014, adding Sunday days and Sunday-Thursday overnight to its previous scheduled hours.
With round the clock local phone response, trained Idaho phone responders are able to field even more calls from Idahoans who are in crisis or suicidal —and connect them with key resources in their local communities. The hotline also offers follow-up calls to individuals seeking help.
Support During Critical Times
The hotline offers callers:
• Emotional support
• Assessment of suicide risk
• Crisis intervention to those in imminent danger
• Links to local services
• Follow-up for those who exhibit suicide risk factors
Addressing a Statewide Problem
• Idaho is tied for the 8th-highest suicide rate in the U.S.
• Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults in Idaho.
After multi-sector collaboration throughout the Gem State, the ISPH opened in November 2012 — providing much-needed support for individuals at risk for suicide.
The ISPH team trains volunteers — laypersons or professionals — to become trained crisis phone workers. The next training class begins January 31, 2015. Informational sessions for prospective volunteers are ongoing in January. Retired mental health professionals are encouraged to consider becoming volunteer Phone Room Supervisors. ISPH also needs non-phone worker volunteers to help with outreach, fundraising, event planning, etc.
ISPH provides great training and experience in a supportive environment for its Volunteer Phone Workers.
Volunteer Phone Responders receive 40+ hours of training and apprenticeship and commit to one 4 ½-hour hotline shift per week for one year.
Senator Crapo Seeks Help of Idaho's Veterans
FOR RELEASE CONTACT: Lindsay Nothern (208) 344-1108
The week of August 4, 2014 Staci Lancaster (202) 570-5408
Guest Column Submitted by Senator Crapo
The men and women of our Armed Forces face many challenges as they protect our nation. Because of the unique challenges they face and solemn sacrifices they make, Congress must support the needs of service members both on the battlefield and upon their return. The recent exposure of the mistreatment of veterans seeking assistance through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) again underscores the need to improve the delivery of assistance to our nation’s veterans. The scandals prove that the stakes are high: Congress must get VA reform right this time. As I work with my congressional colleagues to address the needs of our nation’s veterans, the policies I advocate must have a meaningful impact on our veterans in Idaho. In an effort to improve my understanding of veterans’ needs, I invite Idahoans to share their VA experiences with me through a brief survey.
Your responses to this survey are critical as I work to represent Idaho’s veterans and advocate needed changes. Addressing the VA’s shortcomings is essential. What do you think those shortcomings are? Ascertaining where the VA is doing well is also important. What do you think the VA is doing well? In Congress’ rush to make improvements, we must be careful not to harm programs that work well. I invite Idaho’s veterans to share both their positive and negative VA experiences.
Veterans can take the survey online through my website at http://www.crapo.senate.gov/contact/survey.cfm. Veterans who do not have internet access or are uncomfortable with computer use can call one of my offices to have a staff member administer the survey: Washington, DC (202) 224-6142; Idaho State Office (Boise) 208-334-1776; South-Central Idaho (Twin Falls) (208) 734-2515; North Idaho (Coeur d’Alene) (208) 664-5490; Eastern Idaho, North (Idaho Falls) (208) 522-9779; North-Central Idaho (Lewiston) (208) 743-1492; Eastern Idaho, South (Pocatello) (208) 236-6775. Additionally, veterans are welcome to visit any of my regional offices to take the survey in person. Friends and families of veterans are also welcome to take the survey to share their experiences.
This short survey contains questions about the level of satisfaction veterans have with the VA generally. It also asks where veterans receive health care treatment if they use VA facilities. The survey provides the option of sharing individual positive and negative experiences. Idahoans in need of specific assistance in dealing with the VA or other federal agencies and navigating programs may also contact my office for further assistance through the survey or separately.
The input of Idahoans is very valuable as we work together to tackle these significant national challenges. I encourage Idaho veterans, their communities, friends, and families to provide input through the survey. I look forward to hearing from you.To directly link to this guest column, please use the following address: http://www.crapo.senate.gov/media/newsreleases/release_full.cfm?id=355125
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