Civil Air Patrol honors 89-year-old pilot with Congressional Gol - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Civil Air Patrol honors 89-year-old pilot with Congressional Gold Medal

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MARION -- The year was 1944. The United States had been fully involved in World War II for three years, and 16-year-old June Minton knew she wanted to serve her country, so she joined the Civil Air Patrol as a cadet.

"I wanted to join the Air Force, but at 16, I couldn't so that was the closest thing to it," Minton said.

Now 73 years later - at age 89 - she was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal on Saturday for her role in defense of the country.

It's a honor she said left her overwhelmed and tearful.

"I didn't realize something that seems so small to me is such a big thing," she said.

When June started flying in the CAP, her plane had only a compass and an altimeter but sometimes she got a little extra help.

"When I did my cross country I had a regular road map with me," she said.

Cadets and other members of the Civil Air Patrol spent much of their time during the war patrolling the coasts looking for enemy submarines. 

The Civil Air Patrol has long trained young cadets to be active in aerospace education and emergency services.

Those cadets today said Minton's story keeps drives them to keep reaching higher.

"It's really great to see that CAP did stuff like this. Women didn't have opportunities like that back then," Guinevere Lipe said. Lipe is a Cadet Senior Airman in the CAP.

"They've done so much service to our nation. It really keeps me going in hopes that I can serve my nation as well," said Noah Cash, a Cadet Second Lieutenant.

Minton said given the chance she would do it all over again.

"It was just a wonderful thing to learn and I loved every minute of it. So thank you instead of thanking me," she said.

Civil Air Patrol Commanders hope that Minton's story will bring others forward who flew for the CAP during WWII. 

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