AFEES Congressional Gold Medal

Congressional Gold Medal Sought for AFEES Evaders

On behalf of AFEES, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, representing the 3rd Congressional District of Massachusetts, introduced House Resolution 2279, to be known as the U.S. Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society Recognition Act of 2017, which would grant Congressional Gold Medal recognition to members of AFEES who evaded capture by the enemy during World War II. All members of AFEES and their friends and family are urged to contact their respective Members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the Resolution and U.S. Senators to to introduce and co-sponsor a companion bill in the Senate.  To see the official title of the bill, click here.  To find your Representative, click here.  The bill needs additional co-signers if it is to have any chance of passage.   (To see a list of co-sponsors, click here.)  For the 2017 version of the bill to pass, it will need a minimum of 290 Members of the House of Representatives and 67 U.S. Senators as co-sponsors.  According to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, the bill expires December 31, 2018.  Send copies of your letters or emails to John Katsaros, President of AFEES at his email of jkatsaros3 at comcast.net  so that he can track which Members of Congress have been contacted and which have not.  Plans also call for introduction of a Senate bill which will be the counterpart of the House bill.   For a copy of an article on the 2015 version of the same legislation, that appeared in the Boston Globe on March 4, 2015, click on the following: JK Boston Globe article March 6 2015 (1).

Military Officers Association of American (MOMA) Supports H.Res. 632, the prior version of H.R. 2279

Admiral Norbert R. Ryan, Jr., USN (Ret.) on March 13 announced the support of the Military Officers Association of America (MOMA) for H. Res. 632.  To see his letter to Rep. Tsongas, click on the following document: Rear Admiral Ryan’s letter to Rep. Tsongas.

Air Force Association (AFA) Supports H.Res. 632, the prior version of H.R. 2279

Major General Mark Barrett, USAF (Ret), Executive Vice President of the Air Force Assocation, on June 24, 2015 announced the support of AFA for H.Res. 632.  To see his letter to Rep. Tsongas, click on the following document: Congressional-Gold-Medal-2-1

For information on civilians on whom the Congressional Gold Medal have been bestowed, click here.  There is a good article by Jerri Donohue on the subject of the need for recognition of airmen who evaded capture or escaped that appeared on Veterans’ Day November 2012 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer reproduced in the Winter 2012/2103 issue of the AFEES newsletter.  To see it click here.  Following the sample constituents’ letter to Members of Congress shown immediately below there is a copy of the letter Representative Tsongas has sent to other Members of Congress seeking their support for the 2015 version of the bill.  The contact person for HR 2279 in Representative Tsongas’ office is Sean Duggan.  If you feel uncertain about writing a Member of Congress, click on the following for some suggestions: How to write U.S. Senators and Congressman.

Sample letter from constituents to a Member of Congress

The Honorable (name of Member of Congress)

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Representative (name of Member)

During WWII and wars since, thousands of United States Army Air Forces Airmen were shot down. Many airmen were gravely wounded in aerial combat survived and for the first time in their career had to parachute, sometimes at heights of 27,000 feet, and forced to free fall because of lack of oxygen. Harsh landings caused many airmen to suffer additional injuries resulting in being taken prisoner (POW) in enemy territory.

Some airmen were captured more than once. Many of the Escapees safely climbed the the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, only to be caught by the constabulary until after D-Day – some escaped into Switzerland and other friendly countries.

Many Evaded capture and along with the Escapees joined one of the WWII Resistance Organizations, which helped them to survive and to join their clandestine activities. After D-Day, Allied Armies eventually repatriated these Evaders. These surviving Escapees and Evaders gathered strategic information highly valued by the Allied Intelligence crucial to the ongoing war effort.

Recently, the WWII female pilots (WASPS) along with the Tuskegee Airmen, black P-51 fighter pilots (Red Tails), and Navajo Code Talkers, have been examples of those who have received Recognition from the U.S. Congress and signed by the President.

Time is running out for the (AFEES) members, as their age (91 to 100) is limited.

The U.S. Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society proudly requests your signature to join those of other cosponsors of U.S. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’ H.R. 2279.

We would appreciate your help, co-sponsorship of, and vote in favor of H.R. 2279.

(Your name and signature)

Letter from Representative Niki Tsongas to other Members of Congress on Behalf of H.R. 632, the 2015 version of H.R. 2279:

To view the letter, click on the following pdf file: HR 632 dear colleague letter.

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