Fighter Aces Receive Congressional Gold

Congress bestowed its highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, upon the 1,447 American fighter aces on May 20 for their “heroic service to the United States throughout the history of aviation warfare,” according to a statement from House Speaker Rep. John Boehner’s office. Thirty-six of the 77 remaining Aces—who range in age from 72- to 104-years-old—attended the ceremony in the Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitors Center. “What an honor it is to welcome these living legends to the United States Capitol,” said Boehner, according to a release from the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash., home to the American Fighter Aces Association. “This medal is meant to honor the feats these men achieved and the sacrifices their families made to keep the skies, and the world, safe for democracy.” The museum enlisted the help of some 20 pilots and “a fleet of small and mid-sized jets to fly the Aces and their families” to Washington, D.C., so they could participate in the ceremony. “Because wars are fought differently today, the American fighter Ace is indeed passing into history at a rapid rate,” said Doug King, president and CEO of The Museum of Flight, in the release. “Before today’s ceremony, our single purpose was to get as many of these living Aces as possible to Washington, D.C., for this celebration of their bravery and their lives.” To become an Ace a pilot must shoot down at least five enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat. Congress unanimously passed a resolution honoring the Aces last year.