Secretary of the Air Force Accepts CAP Congressional Gold Medal Honoring Grandfather
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and her brothers, Scott and Ian Wilson, accepted a replica of Civil Air Patrol’s Congressional Gold Medal on Monday in honor of their late grandfather, George G. “Scotty” Wilson, a CAP pilot during World War II.
“I’d like to thank Civil Air Patrol for honoring its founding members,” Wilson said during the 20-minute presentation ceremony at the Pentagon, where she serves as the U.S. Air Force’s highest-ranked civilian.
The presentation to the Wilson family came four years to the day that Congress awarded its highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to CAP and its World War II members for their unusual service – as civilian volunteer airmen flying their own aircraft on important and sometimes dangerous wartime missions.
“It was my pleasure to present the Congressional Gold Medal to Secretary Wilson and her brothers in honor of their grandfather’s World War II service,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP national commander. “George Wilson played a critical and extremely dangerous role as a mission pilot.”
Since the Congressional Gold Medal was bestowed to CAP in 2014, the organization has honored dozens of World War II-era members and their families with replica medals in ceremonies like the one at the Pentagon.
“The real value was that civilian aviators serving alongside members of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard helped force the submarine threat well away from the American coastlines — they were there when the nation needed them,” said Col. Frank Blazich, CAP’s national historian emeritus, who emceed the ceremony. “It was truly an inspiring time.”
Civil Air Patrol was founded Dec. 1, 1941, predating creation of the Air Force some six years later, when CAP became the military service’s official auxiliary.
Scotty Wilson, a member of the Keene Squadron in New Hampshire, flew for CAP’s courier service out of Grenier Army Airfield and as a member of Tow Target Unit No. 5 based at Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in addition to duties as a member of the New Hampshire Wing staff. He logged more than 1,000 wartime flying hours with CAP from November 1942 to January 1945,
“The courier service flew critical personnel and cargo between military base and factories supporting three major Army Air Forces commands by flying 20,000 miles daily and carrying over 3.5 million pounds of cargo, including Army mail, aircraft parts, war materiels, supplies and personnel,” said Blazich, adding that CAP’s World War II-era members also flew 20,500 missions involving towing aerial gunnery targets for live-fire antiaircraft gunnery training and nighttime tracking missions for searchlights.
“This was a particularly dangerous mission, and several CAP members lost their lives to friendly fire,” he said. “Even for those who survived, their aircraft often returned with holes and other damage from less than accurate gunnery.”
After World War II, Scotty Wilson took the helm as commander of CAP’s New Hampshire Wing. He served in that role from 1948-1954.
U.S. Air Force Photos by Adrian Cadiz