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Flight Plans Newsletter

President Obama Signs Bill Honoring American Fighter Aces May 23 at Noon PDT

Date: 
05/22/2014

President to sign H.R. 685, the American Fighter Aces
Congressional Gold Medal Act,
The Museum of Flight President and CEO Doug King at White House ceremony - Museum is the official center of the American Fighter Aces Association

SEATTLE, May 22, 2014--Just days before the nation pays tribute to our men and women in uniform on Memorial Day, legislation authored by Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and original cosponsor Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA) honoring America's top fighter pilots will go the White House for the President's signature. The measure, H.R. 685, the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act, awards an elite group of American fighter pilots known as Fighter Aces with Congress' highest recognition, the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Museum of Flight is the official center of the American Fighter Aces Association and Archive. Museum President and CEO Doug King will attend the White House signing ceremony. American Fighter Ace Steve Richie will be the keynote speaker at the Museum's Memorial Day Ceremony, May 26 at 1 p.m.

Fighter Aces are U.S. fighter pilots credited with destroying five or more confirmed enemy aircraft in aerial combat. The bill authorizes the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to present a single gold medal designed and struck by the U.S. Mint to American Fighter Aces in honor of their contributions to aviation warfare.

Who: President Barack Obama, Rep. Denny Heck, Fighter Aces, The Museum of Flight
President and CEO Doug King
What: Bill Signing Ceremony for American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act
When: Friday, May 23, 2014
Noon PDT/3:00 p.m. EDT

In response to the announcement, Cmdr. Clarence "Spike" Borley, a Navy Fighter Ace with five aerial victories in World War II, said: "I am pleased to accept this honor and do so in the name of the American citizens, whose support made these victories possible."

"Cmdr. Borley represents the best in America, and 70 years after his heroism and sacrifice, his accomplishments are still relevant," Heck said about the WWII Fighter Ace now living in Olympia, Wash. "Fighter Aces like Cmdr. Borley are a pivotal part of our defense during combat, and our current and future generations need to be aware of these heroes. With this medal, I hope to not only recognize these Fighter Aces, but also allow their stories to inspire future fighter pilots."

"These patriots are the best of the best, the cream of the crop in air-to-air combat. They have engaged the enemy time and time again over the South Pacific, Europe and East Asia and won. They have contributed to the aerial supremacy of the United States; their efforts have shortened wars and saved lives, yet have never been rightfully honored - at least not until now. I'm honored that today Republicans and Democrats seized the opportunity to honor the heroism, duty, service, courage, and sacrifice of all American Fighter Aces. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor that Congress can bestow and I can think of no group more deserving than this elite group of fighter pilots," said Johnson and combat veteran fighter pilot.

Since World War I, American fighter pilots have fought for freedom and democracy across the globe. More than 60,000 U.S. military fighter pilots that have taken to the air, however, less than 1,500 have been honored with the coveted status of Fighter Ace.

American Fighter Aces have led distinguished careers in the military, education, private enterprise, and politics. Twenty-two Fighter Aces have achieved the rank of Admiral in the Navy. Seventy-nine Fighter Aces have achieved the rank of General in the Army, Marines, and Air Force. Nineteen Medals of Honor have been awarded to individual Fighter Aces.

Following the award of the gold medal in honor of the American Fighter Aces, the gold medal will be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be displayed and available for research.
Full text of H.R. 685, the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act can be found online.

More information on American Fighter Aces can be found on the American Fighter Aces Association's website. The Museum of Flight is the official center of the American Fighter Aces Association and its archive.

For photos and biographical information on Washington state Fighter Aces, please contact Kati Rutherford at kati.rutherford@mail.house.gov.

Press Contacts:
Kati Rutherford, Congressman Denny Heck
kati.rutherford@mail.house.gov, 253-363-1237
Mike Bush, Museum of Flight Marketing & Public Relations Director
mbush@museumofflight.org, 206-768-7150
Ted Huetter, Museum of Flight Public Relations Manager
thuetter@museumofflight.org, 206-768-7105

Museum of Flight News Releases
Access this and all other Museum of Flight news releases online at:
www.museumofflight.org/press/archives

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The independent, non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, attracting more than 500,000 visitors annually. The Museum's collection includes more than 160 historically significant air- and spacecraft, the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co., and the world's only full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer. The Museum's aviation and space library and archives are the largest on the West Coast. More than 100,000 individuals are served annually by the Museum's on-site and outreach educational programs. The Museum of Flight is accredited by the American Association of Museums, and is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Museum of Flight is located at 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, Exit 158 off Interstate 5 on Boeing Field half-way between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $19 for adults, $16 for seniors 65 and older, $16 for active military, $11 for youth 5 to 17, and free for children under 5. Group rates are available. Admission on the first Thursday of the month is free from 5 to 9 p.m. courtesy of Wells Fargo. McCormick & Schmick's Wings Café is on site. For general Museum information, please call 206-764-5720 or visit www.museumofflight.org

Mike Bush
Director of Marketing
and Public Relations
253.307.3225
Ted Huetter
Public Relations
and Promotions Manager
206.455.5360