HAHIRA, GA (WALB) - Brooks Lovelace was awarded a bronze medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in December in recognition for his service in the Civil Air Patrol along the Georgia coast during World War II.
The other 45 Civil Air Patrol veterans from World War II still alive in 2014 were also awarded a medal at the ceremony, along with about 80 family members of deceased World War II Civil Air Patrol veterans.
"These people were all civilians, they were not military people. They took their airplanes at their own expense. they bought their own uniforms," Lovelace emphasized.
John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, and Nancy Palosi all attended the ceremony.
Lovelace never saw combat while stationed at the Civil Air Patrol base on St. Simon's Island in Georgia, but he did get to fly on two of the daily missions that were part of the Civil Air Patrol's objective of protecting oil tankers and cargo ships along the Atlantic Coast from German U-Boats. During one of the missions, the pilot showed Lovelace how to find his way back to Brunswick coming North from Jacksonville.
"He says, 'you see that oil slick comin' down through here?' I said, 'yeah'," Lovelace recalled. "He said, 'that's where a tanker was sunk by a German ship, right off of Cumberland Island. That's the oil seepin' out of it and runnin' back down. You can pick that up and you can fly that right up to the river comin' out of Brunswick.'"
The Civil Air Patrol is still around, and Lovelace hopes that sharing his story will help motivate future generations."That's what we don't have today. We don't have the people who will get up and volunteer to get out and do somethin'," said Lovelace.
Lovelace ultimately retired from the Air Force with the rank of Major in 1969.