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WWII-era Civil Air Patrol members receive Congressional Gold Medal

October 25, 2021

Washburn Brothers Receive Congressional Gold Medal on Their Father's Behalf
(Washburn brothers accept the Congressional Gold Medal on their father’s behalf, photo credit: 1st Lt Jeffrey Robertson)

Maryland Wing Public Affairs
By 1st Lt. Jeffrey Robertson, MDWG PAO, Civil Air Patrol

BALTIMORE (October 25, 2021) -- Civil Air Patrol officials awarded the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Second Lieutenant George Washburn (1916-1991) for his service during World War II on October 23, 2021. 

George Washburn was an aviation enthusiast from an early age.  He built model airplanes and often frequented the Cleveland Air Races getting to know the pilots and ultimately becoming a mechanic repairing race planes.  Shortly before the start of World War II, George took a job at the Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio (WACO) aircraft plant in Troy, Ohio where he worked as a tool maker and learned to fly.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, HI, George attempted to enlist in the US Army Air Corps (USAAC); however, due to his specialized profession, the Air Corps exempted him from military service and requested that he contribute to the war as a WACO employee.  Unable to join the USAAC, George joined the Civil Air Patrol in early 1943 and was appointed to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in Group 517.

As a Civil Air Patrol airman, 2nd Lt. Washburn performed various duties to include air raid drills, and search and rescue flights.  In his spare time, he put his modeling skills to use by carving wooden aircraft recognition models to assist aircraft warning spotters with distinguishing aircraft types.

The Weaver Aircraft Company is recognized for manufacturing American military troop and cargo gliders in support of the United States Government during the war.  By 1945, the military did not need any more WACO gliders and George subsequently lost his exemption status.  In return, he was quickly drafted but despite being a trained pilot, was assigned to the Signal Corps after training. George was on his way to fight in the Pacific Theater when the war ended.

Washburn Brothers receive Congressional Gold Medal

“There is no doubt that George Washburn taught his sons through his deeds, that service his country and fellow mand was an honorable life” Colonel Wes LaPre, Commander Maryland Wing Civil Air Patrol,  said as he reflected on 2nd Lt. Washburn during his remarks to the audience.

Colonel LaPre presented the Congressional Gold Medal to 2nd Lt. Washburn’s sons Scott, George, and Mark on behalf of the Ohio Wing Commander, Colonel Peter Bowden. Though 2nd Lt. Washburn’s Civil Air Patrol Services took place largely in Ohio, Col. Bowden requested Maryland Wing present the award while the three brothers and family were gathered in Frederick, MD for a reunion. Colonel LaPre also presented each son with a “Commander’s coins” from the Ohio Wing and the Maryland Wing, respectively.

Dating back to the American Revolutionary War, the Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow, with President George Washington as the first recipient in 1776. Since then, a group of over one hundred patriots, artists, athletes, explorers and scientists have been chosen by Congress for its highest honor as national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

On Dec. 10, 2014, the U.S. Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Civil Air

Patrol in honor of its founding members’ roles in protecting the homeland and carrying out other vital wartime domestic missions. Through their service, sacrifice and heroism, WWII members instilled within Civil Air Patrol members the passion to serve fellow Americans and their country, often in the darkest hours of both.

Colonel LaPre issued special recognition to the Frederick Composite Squadron color guard; Captain Dean Billigmeier, Frederick Composite Squadron Commander; and the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association who allowed the Maryland Wing to use their hanger as an appropriate aviation venue for this event.

Nearly 1,500 members serve in Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing. Last year, wing members flew 13 actual search and rescue missions. Overall, the Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland, flying 2,245 hours in all mission categories, and was credited with four finds.

Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For information, contact the Maryland Wing at or follow the wing on Facebook.

Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,100 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 107 lives last year. CAP’s 56,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to over 23,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

For More Information:

1st Lt. Jeffrey Robertson, MDWG PAO,

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