The American Fighter Aces is a select group to be a part of, but the conditions to earn a membership are a lot more difficult to fulfill than you might believe. Only 1447 pilots in the entire history of American Aviation pilots have been awarded this title and only 77 of them are still alive today.
These pilots engaged enemy airplanes in combat and managed to take down at least five of them, during both World Wars,
Korea and Vietnam, that was the condition on which they were awarded membership. These people, nearly all of them over the age of 80, have earned a place in the prestigious group by helping American forces defeat its enemies during war time and each one of them is responsible for saving lives and helping win wars while risking their lives.
Half of the 77 Fighter Aces who are still alive today, met in front of the Capitol at a prestigious ceremony held in their honor.
The group was awarded on Wednesday, the most prestigious medal that the Congress has to offer and that is the Congressional Gold Medal.
In a fabulous ceremony, the President of the American Fighter Aces, Lt. Charles Cleveland, accepted this medal for himself, the other members of the group and most of all, for all their brothers who could not be there.
Lt. Charles “Chick” Cleveland, aged 87, has an impressive record in the aviation. He fought in 145 missions in Korea and Vietnam and clocked nearly 4500 flying hours, with 3500 of them being in a jet aircraft. Cleveland has served in the United States Air Force for 35 years until he retired in 1984.
As he accepted the medal, Cleveland finished his speech with a joke saying that the Congress may not be well liked by the public, but that the Fighter Aces like them just fine.
During his speech, the House Speaker, John Boehner praised the Fighter Aces for what they helped America achieve and credited their loyalty and bravery for the thousands of lives saved during the wars and for the freedom and protection they helped bring throughout the world.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest ranked medal that the Congress can offer civilians and these elite pilots are most certainly the ones to deserve it.
Amongst the notable freedom defenders that were also recipients of this distinction we mention grand personalities like George Washington (who was also the first receiver), Major General Ulysses S. Grant and Sir Winston Churchill.
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