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Civilian flyer from WWII awarded Congressional Gold Medal

Widow received the honor at a solemn ceremony held by Civil Air Patrol


September 20, 2017

Valdez Star photo

The widow of David Kennedy, flanked by his sons, received his Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony Friday.

The widow WWII civilian flyer received his Congressional Gold Medal Friday.

David Kennedy was posthumously awarded the coveted honor by members of the local and statewide Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in a solemn ceremony at the Valdez Civic Center Friday night.

The award was called "...long overdo and all together fitting."

The Civil Air Patrol pilots of WWII, as a group, was bestowed the highest honor Congress can bestow on civilians back in 2014, recognizing members who came to the aid of this country from 1941-1945.

CAP, as a modern organization, provides humanitarian aid, performs search and rescue operations and has a place inside the US Department of Homeland Security.

But its roots are firmly seeded in the second world war.

"In the summer of 1941, Office of Civilian Defense director Fiorello LaGuardia appointed an aviation committee composed of Gill Robb Wilson, Thomas H. Beck and Guy P. Gannett to develop a blueprint to organize civilian aviation resources nationally," CAP says in its biographical history. " The resulting plan, to establish the Civil Air Defense Service using civilian flyers for home defense and disaster relief in the event of a national emergency, was penned by Wilson."

Over 200,000 men and women aged 15 and up served in CAP, including Kennedy.

During 700,000 hours of CAP flying during the war, "A total of 65 volunteers - 62 men, two cadets, one woman - died on active CAP service during the war, with 150 aircraft lost."

The statistics of what these volunteer flyers accomplished is impressive - and the service and ultimate sacrifice made by those members of yesteryear still resonates with today's Civil Air Patrol.

Their record in protecting US shores and later in engaging enemy assets is impressive.

CAP reported the following to the U.S. military regarding the 18 months of coastal patrol operations according to its website:

- 57 attacks on enemy submarines.

- 82 bombs dropped against submarines.

- 173 radio reports of submarine positions.

- 17 floating mines spotted.

- 36 dead bodies spotted.

- 91 vessels in distress spotted.

- 363 survivors in distress spotted.

- 836 irregularities noted.

- 1,036 special investigations at sea or along the coast.

- 5,684 convoy missions as aerial escorts for Navy ships.

- 86,685 missions flown.

- 244,600 flight hours logged.

- Over 24 million miles flown.

- Over 500,000 hours flown on other missions.

- 26 fatalities, seven serious injuries and 90 aircraft los

Pilots for CAP also acted as couriers for the Army Air Corp, which grew into the modern US Air Force:

The Courier Service transported:

Valdez Star photo

The color guard of the local chapter of the Civilian Air Patrol opened the ceremony honoring the late David Kennedy.

-3,451,851 pounds of cargo for the 2nd Air Force.

-12,139 pounds of cargo for the 4th Air Force.

- 73,921 pounds of cargo and 543 passengers for the 1st Air Force.

- Seven courier aircrew died with a loss of seven aircraft.

The state and composite squadron leaders from Valdez remembered Kennedy, his family, and the other founding members of CAP well attendees said.


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