tv 2014 Congressional Gold Medal Presentation Ceremony CSPAN January 1, 2016 7:15pm-7:59pm EST
>> we continue our look at congressional gold medal ceremonies, the highest civilian honor. the civil air patrol was create ed in 19 4i and was used during world war ii to provide aid and as a combat unit. made up of entirely civilian volunteers, these men and women used their own aircraft to assist the military. the patrol was established as an auxiliary of the u.s. air force in 1948. in december of 2014, leaders of the u.s. house and senate presented the congressal gold medal to world war ii members of the civil air patrol in recognition of their service. this 40-minute event took place in the u.s. capitol visitor's center. ladies and gentlemen, please
the rev rand, john a. boehner. >> ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to the u.s. capitol. thank you for being here to continue a great tradition. one that dates back before our country was even a country. the congressional gold medal represents the highest expression of the people's appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. the first was george washington and today, we will present a gold medal to members of the civil air patrol with valor and dedication saved countless lives in world war ii. the civil air patrol was organized some six days before the bombing of pearl harbor. its members flew more than 24 million miles on coastal patrol. they summoned help for ships and
survivors in distress, they spotted enemy submarines, dropped bombs, depth charges and some 64 americans died during these operations. those who lived have quite the stories to tell. many of them are with us today. please join me in welcoming these american heros to our capitol. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the presentation of the colors by the united states armed forces color guard and the singing of the national anthem by the brass quintet and the retiring of the colors. >> color halt.
senate, dr. barry black, gives the invocation. >> let us pray. god and father of all, we praise you for your infinite love that provides us with help when we need it most. we thank you for this congressional gold medal ceremony in honor of world war ii members of the civil air patrol. we're grateful that this organization, as speaker boehner has pointed out, was created six days before the bombing of pearl harbor. it provided civilian air support that helped us win world war ii. thank you for its members who more than self their country loved and died so that this
nation might live. inspire us from this legacy of service and sacrifice to give our lives for causes greater than ourselves so that we shall leave this world better than we found it. we pray in your holy name, amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, the united states representative from the tenth district of texas, the honorable michael t. mccaul. [ applause ] >> thank you. what a great day.
73 years ago this week america was attacked at pearl harbor leading us into a war that would define who we are as a nation. today we honor the world war ii members of the civil air patrol with the congressional gold medal, the highest expression of national appreciation. we remember the over 400,000 servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be free. many of these brave americans were the unpaid volunteers of the civil air patrol who provided extraordinary humanitarian and combat services during a critical time of need for the nation. and without their service, many more would have perished. as a son of a b-17 bomber and a
world war ii veteran, i am especially proud to be here to honor the veterans with us here today. my dad was my hero. and so, too, are all of you. many of you flew dangerous missions using your own aircraft to attack enemy submarines, nighttime tracking missions, cargo transport, search and rescue, fire patrols, disaster relief and medevac. the civil air patrol was a pioneering opportunity for our nation's women to serve in uniform, including one i want to notice today, jane pace, a 92-year-old civil air patrol pilot from my community in texas who is with us here today and conducted surveillance flights over the gulf of mexico to spot enemy submarines. at this time, i would like to take a moment to recognize jane and ask her to please stand. [ applause ]
jane actually went to high school with my father, believe it or not. and while we were at the world war two memorial this more than, jane and i read a quote in the shown that said, women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation not as women. this was a people's war and everyone was in it. and how true that is. though it has been nearly 70 years since the end of world war ii, the memory and sacrifice of the civil air patrol volunteers is never more enshrined in our hearts than on this day. my friend and colleague and i were humbled to have led the effort in the house to bestow the nation's top honor. words cannot express the pride and gratitude we feel standing
here in the company of heroes past and present. we pause, in debted forever, to the greatest generation. may we honor them by carrying the torch of freedom kept glowing. you the greatest generation handed down to mine a better america and a better world. let us embrace ourselves to our duties to for 1,000 years men many stay this was their finest hour. we say thank you. well done. good and faithful servants. may god bless you. may god bless the united states of america. and may he hold you in the palm of his hand. thank you. [ applause ].
♪ [ applause ]. ladies and gentlemen, the democratic leader of the united states house of representatives, the honorable nancy pelosi. [ applause ]. >> good afternoon. thank you for that beautiful rendition of "america the beautiful." my favorite verse is the one that begins, o, beautiful for patriots's dreams that sees beyond the years. that's what our civilian air patrolmen did. major general vazquez, former congressman lester wolff. so honored to be with you here,
as well as our speaker who made this possible. congressman mcdonnell. thank you to you and henry quay arnold for introducing this legislation. time and time again across our history at the darkest and most desperate hours of national need, evident citizens have stepped forward to confront the enemy and defend our country. our nation, months following our surprise entry into world world war as has been mentioned this week, marks the observance of pearl harbor. even after president roosevelt's efforts to arm the nation, our military was not as prepared or equipped and unable to access the machine. taking a brim and terrible toll on ships and tankers with the
view of american beaches and cities. once more at this time of national emergency, thousands of americans across the country took it upon themselves to buy time for the cavalry. the minutemen marched to the revolutionary war to protect our towns and win our liberty so too did the civilians of the civil air patrol rush into the skies to guard our shores and drive back the forces of tyranny. some were even too young, some too old, some too in firm for the military. these men and women would not be denied to use their aviation skills in the service of our country. many of you and others who were with you then left jobs and shut erred businesses, traveled to ram shackled air bases, slept in converted chickencoops they tell me to risk their lives to scan
the wave for ships, survivors and submarines. air patrol planes were the guardian angels of our shipping, flying even when weather grounded the military. your constant presence in the skies spotting, harassing and attacking submarines gave the nation time to mobilize and play a critical role in restoring security to our coast and pushing back to sea. reflecting on this part of the contribution to the war effort, the then commanding general of the air force said if it had done nothing beyond that the civil air patrol would have earned app honorable place in the history of american air power. that you did do much more as representative mccullough said, watching the forest fighters,
leading search and rescue, delivering essential parts and medicine, towing targets in dangerous live fire anti-aircraft exercises. by the end of the war, the civilian men and women of the civil air patrol had flown 750,000 hours of missions. 65 volunteers had given their lives on active duty. then as now. always diligent. ever ready to rush to the rescue of our country. your service honored the finest traditions of our military. your legacy inspires the civilian air patrol continuing commitment to our country. your sacrifice and body and in dom tphabl. it is is our honor and privilege joining with the house and senate leadership and so many i
to present the congressional gold medal for world war ii veterans of civil is air patrol and to recognize the flying minutemen and women of the 20th century. thank you. [ applause ]. >> ladies and gentlemen, the republican leader of the republican states senate, the honorable mitch mcconnell. [ applause ]. >> we often think of world war ii as an "over there" war, the kind of conflict our soldiers
deployed overseas to fight. of course millions of americans did do just that. many of us know a veteran who served. of course we honor them. the reality is the second world war become more of a "right here" war. for a time, german boats stalked our coast. we often forget it. but those submarines actually sank american ships. and if we left them unchecked, they could have threatened to funnel more of europe's conflict across the atlantic. the point is, world war ii could have turned out a lot differently if not for the men and women of the civil air patrol. they served selflessly, often at their own expense. they used their own aircraft. first to spot german boats and
lastly to attack them. emergency equipment, if they had any, might have consisted of a vest or innertube. some were housed in chicken coops. others lay their heads in a barn. they did this for their country. not for riches because they received few. not for fame because little was forthcoming. but out of a sense of duty and service. yet today few americans have even heard of the civil air patrol. it's a shame. it continues now as auxiliary in the air force with humanitarian missions.
performing a variety of reason sans and search and rescue operations. when mt. st. helens rerupted, sandy too. and the civil air patrol was on it was there. the scene when terrorists attacked our country on 9/11. the good news is the patrol has advocates in high places. that's why we're here today. members of congress worked hard to pass the legislation that made this possible. and i was proud to join others and co-sponsor them. so, told's gold medal may be long overdue, but it's well deserved. it's the highest civilian honor we can bestou and we're pleased to help bestow it. thank you. [ applause ] >> ladies and gentlemen, the majority leader of the united states senate, the honorable
harry reid. [ applause ]. >> mccarron was 20 years old when news came of the attacks in pearl harbor. at first he wasn't sure what to do. but he knew he wanted to do something. many years later when asked how he felt in the aftermath of the pearl harbor attack he said i just think we all got mad. it changed everything. so virgil joined the civil air patrol serving as a coastal base named 12. fancy name, but that's what it was called, in brownsville, texas. he was an airplane mechanic and a good one. sometimes if the base was shorthanded, and it was lots of times, virgil went up in the
aircraft as an opener looking mainly for submarines. he spent that day scanning the waters of the gulf of mexico for boats and other aircraft that showed up. so why would he do that? there was no compulsary service. no promise of college tuition reimbursement or a promise to see the world. but this was a chance to serve. a chance to do something for the war effort. founded west coast airlines and settled in las vegas. he sadly passed away three months ago. it's a shame that he and so many other brave volunteers are not
with us today to be receiving this honor. alexander hamilton said there is a certain enthusiasm and liberty that makes human nature rise above itself in acts of heroism. that's true. to those of you here today, thank you for this service. this honor is overdue. to those no longer with us, their acts of bravery and heroism will never be forgotten. thank you very much. [ applause ]. >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives, the
honorable john boehner. [ applause ]. >> let me thank my colleagues for their words and of course all of their efforts that have made this day possible. in listening to the stories, it's easy to forget, these were just private citizens who wanted to lend a hand. they also lent their planes, two-way radios, even their own spare parts. they came in fits and starts and they nearly lost their housing. it's easy to forget that back then flying 100 miles offshore was a pretty daunting task. but there was and these pilots braved the elements and the u boats with only a tin can to stay afloat should they go down. one said if we could see half the runway, we'd fly. and they down right insisted on doing these things. they weren't pressed into
service. the government was pressed in 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, they were bus drivers, they were doctors, they were mechanics, they were salesman. even a plumber. they came from more than 1,000 cities and whistle straps across the country. they flew with unbound determination in america. and we were lucky to have them up there. and so world war ii members of the civil air patrol, the united states has struck a congressional gold medal which we will present with full hearts and no small amount of wonder. to receive the medal, please join me to welcoming lester
[ applause ] >> it is my distinct honor to be at the united states capitol this afternoon to recognize civil air patrol in the service of its world war ii members. as cap's national commander, i am mindful that these brave and heroic citizen volunteers from america's greatest generation. they served valiantly on the home front and along the coast helping save lives and preserve our nation's freedom. i want to thank them and their families for their service, along with the members of congress who honor them today,
our event sponsors and the many distinguished guests who are here for this historic occasion. it is my pleasure to present to you one of our world war ii veterans who later served 16 years in the house of representatives. please join me in welcoming the honorable lester wolff. [ applause ]. >> thank you. speaker boehner, leader reid, and leader mcconnell and speaker pelosi and chairman mccall, i'm honored today as a world war ii
c.a.p. veteran to join general vazquez in accepting the congressional gold medal on behalf of the men and women of the civil air patrol who gallantly served during world war ii. we accept this award for those who particularly did not come home. our service began in the early dark days following pearl harbor. and you have heard little about our exploits. days when german u boats prowling our east coast were threatening our energy life line and the sinking oil tankers at a high rate right within the sight of land. we were a rag tag group of rejects in the military service.
too old. some of those even served in world war i. i remember my commanding officer was a pilot in the lafayette espadrille. we were volunteers in the true sense of the american tradition of wanting to serve our country in time of need. in a sense, c.a.p. was as -- were our forefathers flying minutemen. the situation was so dire at the time that nearly the army air corps or navy had resources. organized as a civil defense group led by gillrod wilson, c.a.p. volunteered to take on the job. for 18 months initially with, as you have heard, innertubes a as
makeshift like jackets, a simple compass and a single engine primitive aircraft, c.a.p. patrolled the atlantic and gulf coasts hunting submarines and escorting thousands of ships and searching for struggling survivors in the water. known as the coastal patrol, these missions were a little more hazardous than the name implies. we flew, as you heard too, in all kinds of weather. up to 60 miles off our shore at low altitude in very flimsy aircraft. nothing but our willingness to do the job. we started out as spotters, volunteering our own planes. but the situation became so critical we were later armed with small bombs.
the fact we were on their own indicates how serious the threat was. this was not a mission for the faint of heart. 24 million miles were flown, 173 submarines reported, 82 bombs were dropped, and 90 aircraft were lost. our efforts help push the submarine threat away from the critical shopping lanes, protected essential cargos and lives and located hundreds in distress. it was noted by one admiral that c.a.p. members performed this mission displaying all the skill, energy and resourcefulness and disregard for danger, which are in the highest tradition of the american armed forces.
we also managed hundreds of airports, trained thousands to fly, and prepared tens of thousands for military service. to say our service was unusual to our leaders, c.a.p. members were unpaid civilians. many using their own aircraft. now, i must say that c.a.p. members are still paying for their own way. we couldn't serve in the military. many served for the duration of the war. we flew all missions for the military. we trained many who later became the first female army pilots.
by 1943, the auxiliary of the army air force. today we are the proud auxiliary of the united states air force. and we are still performing a myriad of missions for the nation that we love so much. 65 members of the c.a.p. died serving their country. 26 of them on coastal patrol. every one of those lives were given to defend this great nation. and served in congress some eight terms, i fully appreciate the high honor that the congressional gold medal really bestows. from george washington to the tuskeegee airmen, veterans are -- the heist national distinction. today, civil air patrol and its veterans are so honored ch i speak for all of us with deep respect and thanks to speaker boehner, leader reid, leader pelosi, leader mcconnell,
>> let us pray. as we close this celebration of great american ancestors and elders, we give you thanks, oh, god, for having made us and given to each of us and to us as a people potential for greatness beyond our limitations. from the beginning of our shared consciousness, the citizen soldier has been integral to our existence as a nation. militias of minutemen were organized for our defense, farmers, milliners, merchants, neighbors who were ready to drop
what they were doing when danger approached and willing to come to the defense of one another. at the time of our last attack by a belligerent state, it was the civil air patrol that picked up that mantle and brought their personal talents and possessions to the task of defending america from a common threatening enemy. may their great example of service communicate to all generations of americans the valor, generosity, and sacrifice of self-interest for the common good that ennobles us as neighbors and countrymen. may we all be inspired to serve our respective communities and our nation if called upon by tragedy, disaster, or danger. bless all the women and men of
the civil air patrol and may their descendants know of our gratitude for their service and sacrifice. and, dear god, bless america, and grant us peace both in the present and with you forever. amen. >> amen. >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain at your seats for the departure of the official party. ♪ ♪
[ applause ]. here are some of the featured programs this new year's weekend on american history tv on c-span 3. saturday evening at 6:00 author and historian james swanson compares the assassinations of presiden presidents abraham lincoln and john f. kennedy. then a "meet the press" interview. >> i believe what president johnson said in his howard university speech. you cannot keep a man in chains
for three centuries and then take them off and say you're free with everybody else. people have to be given the opportunity to compete with effective resources. i believe we should make a special effort. >> sunday night at 9:30, a visit to pershing park in washington, d.c. to hear about proposed designs for a new national world war i memorial for its upcoming 100th anniversary. for our complete holiday schedule, go to c-span.org. the george washington book prize is awarded annually to a work which advances public understanding of george washington and america's founding era. this year the prize went to playwright and actor lin-manuel miranda. this weekend we're