Las Vegas man honored years after serving his country - 8 News NOW

Las Vegas man honored years after serving his country

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LAS VEGAS -- More many people, fireworks painting the sky a brilliant red, white and blue are a symbol of the bombs fired and lives lost while the United States fought for its independence.

The military has guarded our freedoms since the birth of our nation but ordinary citizens have also protected the country in heroic ways.

It was long before the term ‘homeland security’ was being used, but thousands of citizens volunteered to protect our nation during World War II.

They risked life and limb without asking for recognition but decades later they are finally getting it.

The Civil Air Patrol is 60,000 members strong with 550 aircraft but that is not how it started.

Volunteer pilots flew their own planes searching for German submarines off the east and gulf coasts and there were accidents. Luckily for the crew out of San Bernardino, they had a mechanic like Virgil McCarron

“We were able to keep the planes up,” McCarron said.

He was 20 years old and couldn't sit on the sidelines after Pearl Harbor.

“They bombed us and devastated our navy. I think we all got mad. That changed everything,” McCarron recalled.

The Civil Air Patrol monitored the waters, many were fired upon and 70 planes crashed 26 members were killed. That didn't stop McCarron from stepping up.

“Some observers, for whatever reason, didn't show up that day and I got the honor of flying over the Gulf of Mexico,” McCarron said.

McCarron will now be receiving a Congressional Gold Medal for his service. Current colonel in the Civil Air Patrol Herman Bishop says it's a shame the award didn't come sooner.

“A lot of them have passed away and didn't get to receive it, but at least now they did recognize the service they did and I think it's a great tribute,” Col. Herman Bishop said.

McCarron is the only surviving member of CAP in Nevada who served during World War II.

“I actually never thought it would happen in my lifetime,” McCarron said.

McCarron says he's accepting the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of all the men he knew that are no longer around to receive it.

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