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North Carolina WWII veterans receive their Bronze Replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal

The Congressional Gold Medal Presentation
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CAP WWII Veteran and Former House Rep. Lester Wolff and Maj Gen Vazquez receive the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the WWII Veterans. Photo Source Screen Capture of Speaker.Gov by Lt Col Conrad D'Cruz. (click image to view full size)
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Recap of a day of celebrations for the WWII veterans of the Civil Air Patrol


The Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner opened the ceremony by highlighting the great tradition of the Congressional Gold Medal which dates back to before the nation was born. “It represents the highest expression of the people’s appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.  The first recipient was General George Washington in 1776”, said Speaker Boehner.  He added that pursuant to Senate Bill 309 the Congressional Gold Medal would be awarded to members of the Civil Air Patrol whose valor and dedication saved countless lives during WWII and provided a brief overview of the activities of Civil Air Patrol during WWII. He joined the audience in welcoming the Civil Air Patrol heroes to the United States Capitol to receive this honor.


The United States Armed Forces Color Guard presented the colors and the National Anthem was performed by the United States Air Force band Brass quintet which was followed by the retiring of the colors.


The Chaplain of the United States Senate Dr. Barry Black gave the invocation in which he expressed gratitude for the organization that helped the USA win WWII. He prayed, “Thank you for its members who more than self their country loved and died so that this nation might live”.  He wished that everyone would get inspired by this legacy of service and sacrifice to give their lives for causes greater than their selves so that they leave the world a better place.


U.S. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas’s 10th Congressional District in his address reminded the audience that 400,000 brave Americans made the ultimate sacrifice during WWII so that we might be free. Many of these were the unpaid volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol who provided extraordinary humanitarian and combat services during a critical time of need. He listed all the tasks performed by CAP during WWII and observed that Civil Air Patrol served as a pioneering opportunity for the nation’s women to serve in uniform.  Rep. McCaul added, “On behalf of a grateful nation we say thank you, well done good and faithful servants”.

The USAF Band Brass Quintet played America the Beautiful as the audience listened in hushed silence.


The Democratic Leader of the US House of Representative Nancy Pelosi remarked that time and time again across our nation’s history at the darkest and most desperate hours of our national need everyday citizens have stepped forward to confront the enemy and defend our country.  Thousands of Americans took it upon themselves to buy time for the cavalry. As the minutemen had rushed to arms in the revolutionary war to protect their 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. She added, “Semper Vigilans cries the motto of the Civil Air Patrol then as now Always Vigilant, ever ready to rush to the rescue of our country. Your service honored the finest traditions of our military. Your legacy inspires the Civil Air Patrol continuing commitment to our country. Your sacrifice embodied the indomitable spirit of Americans that defines our history”.


Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader of the US Senate said, “WWII was more than an over there war. WWII could have become a right here war. WWII could have turned out very differently had it not been for the members of the Civil Air Patrol who served selflessly and often at their own expense.” He observed that they did all of this for their country, not for riches and not for fame but out of a sense of duty and service. He added,” Today’s Gold Medal may be long overdue but it is well deserved. It is the highest civilian honor we can bestow and we are all pleased to help bestow it”.


Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader pondered what drove the Civil Air Patrol members to step up to the challenge.  He said, “There was no compulsory service in the Civil Air Patrol. Nothing stipulating that they should volunteer in the defense of this nation. No incentives like we see today. No promise of college tuition or reimbursement or chance to see the world. Civil Air Patrol provided these brave men and women a chance to serve and do something for the war effort.” He quoted Alexander Hamilton who once said, “There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism”. Sen. Reid added that the American people are thankful for the enthusiasm and liberty that drove the Civil Air Patrol volunteers to protect our homeland. He concluded his remarks by saying, “To those of you here today Thank you for your service this honor is overdue. To those no longer with us their acts of bravery and heroism will never be forgotten”.


Speaker Boehner reflected, “The Civil Air Patrol members were just private citizens who wanted to lend a hand. They weren’t pressed into service. The government was pressed into letting them serve. They flew with unbounded determination for America and we were lucky to have them up there”. He then invited Civil Air Patrol National Commander, Maj. Gen Joseph Vazquez and CAP WWII Veteran Lester Wolff onto the podium to accept the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of all the CAP WWII veterans.


Maj Gen Vazquez said, “It is my distinct honor to be at the United States Capitol this afternoon to recognize Civil Air Patrol and the service of its WWII members.  As CAP National Commander I am mindful of 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. He added, “I want to thank them and their families for their service along with the members of Congress who honored them today”.


Lester Wolff said, “I am honored today as a WWII CAP veteran to join Maj Gen Joseph Vazquez to accept the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the men and women of the Civil Air Patrol who gallantly served during WWII. We accept this award particularly for those who did not come home”. He reflected that they were a rag tag group of rejects from military service and some too old and a few who had even served in WWI. He added, “We were volunteers in the true sense of the American tradition of wanting to serve our country in time of need. We were equipped with little more than our derring-do and willingness to do the job”.  He concluded by saying that Civil Air Patrol is now the proud Auxiliary of the United States Air Force and we are still performing a myriad of missions for the nation that we loved so much.


The Chaplain of the US House of Representatives Rev Patrick Conroy gave the benediction in which he said, “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 common defense. They were ready to drop what they were doing when danger approached and come to the defense of one another”.   He added that when the nation was attacked, 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. He prayed, “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 be ready to serve our communities and our nation if called upon by tragedy disaster or danger”.


A reception was held later at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, during which the WWII veterans who had traveled to Washington, D.C. for the ceremony were presented with the bronze replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal by Civil Air Patrol National Commander Maj Gen Joseph Vazquez.


The entire ceremony held at the U.S. Capitol can be viewed at