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President Barack Obama signed S. 309 into law on May 30 awarding the Civil Air Patrol’s World War II veterans the Congressional Gold Medal. The Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow and is the “first major recognition CAP’s members have received for their World War II service,” according to a May 30 CAP release. Of the 120,000 people who joined CAP immediately before and after the war, fewer than 100 are believed to be alive today, states the release. “CAP is proud of the service our founding members provided in protecting the homeland, and we thank Congress for this recognition of their contributions to the war effort,” said Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr, CAP national commander. The Civil Air Patrol flew 244,600 flight hours over more than 24 million aerial miles during 86,685 missions, most of which involved protecting the nation by warding off German U-boat attacks on American oil tankers bound for allied nations. CAP members also conducted search and rescue missions, provided disaster relief, and conducted orientation flights for future pilots, among other duties. Fifty-nine CAP members died performing these missions, including 26 who died during coastal patrols, states the release. (See also Congressional Gold and Doolittle Raiders, Fighter Aces Get Their Gold.)