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NC Wing Honors WWII Veteran

Russell promotion
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Cpl Russell is promoted to Lt. Colonel and receives lifetime CAP membership (click image to view full size)
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Gilbert Russell is promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel

7/14/2013–– Coastal Patrol Base 16 was established in Dare Co. on July 22, 1942, to serve as an airbase for members of the newly formed volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Congressionally Chartered CAP pilots, known then as the Flying Minutemen, made numerous attack runs on German submarines from similar coastal patrol bases that dotted the U.S. coastline during WWII from Maine to the Texas Gulf. A second airfield, Coastal Patrol Base 21 was established in Beaufort, NC, during September of 1942, and pilots based here also patrolled North Carolina waters.

At about this same time, the manager of the Salisbury Airport recruited Gilbert Russell as a CAP cadet. Upon turning 17, Russell volunteered for active service and was transferred to Coastal Patrol Base 16. Upon his arrival at CPB16 he found that the U.S. Navy had just completed a new hanger and had established a training base on the field. Corporal Gilbert Russell was among the last CAP members to be assigned to the base prior to its deactivation in August of 1943.

Upon returning home, Russell enlisted in the US Army and was assigned to the 351st Infantry, 88th Division. He took part in the Allied landing at Anzio, Italy, where he served in the vicinity of the PO Valley until being wounded in action.  According to NC Wing Historian, Lt. Col Philip Saleet, Russell was sent to the rear for treatment of his wounds, and when he returned to duty, he served with the 904th Engineers until 1945.

The North Carolina Wing, CAP, honored  Cpl. Russell during a special promotion ceremony at NC Wing HQs on July 13, 2013. Col. David E. Crawford, NC Wing Commander, explained to the assembled  wing staff members and the extended family of Cpl. Russell  that Cpl. Russell was being promoted to the CAP rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was granted a lifetime membership in CAP. In addition to the promotion, Lt. Col. Russell was presented with the CAP Exceptional Service Award.

The awards continued with the presentation of a Shadow Box of WWII and CAP memorabilia, and he also received the NC Wing’s Commander’s Coin.  It is significant to note that Russell has been nominated to receive the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal along with three other NC CAP/WWII members.