The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) recently discussed design direction and concepts for the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal. Under Public Law 113-105, a single gold medal is authorized to be awarded collectively in honor of the American Fighters Aces in recognition of their heroic military service and defense of our country’s freedom throughout the history of aviation warfare.
American Fighter Aces are pilots credited with destroying five or more enemy aircraft in aerial combat. There were Aces in both World Wars, where propeller-driven aircraft were used, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars, during which jets were used, with the exception of a single Korean War-era Ace who flew the propeller-driven F4U Corsair. While there were over 60,000 fighter pilots that have flown since World War I, fewer than 1,500 are called Fighter Aces. They served in the U.S. Air Service and the U.S. Navy during World War I, the U.S. Army Air Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, and the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
The CCAC Chairman Gary Marks and members Robert Hoge, Erik Jansen, Mary Lannin, Mike Moran, Donald Scarinci, Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, Thomas Uram, and Heidi Wastweet discussed design direction for the medal during a teleconference meeting on July 8, 2014. Also on the call were members of the United States Mint staff.
The discussion touched upon many different possible elements to represent the Aces: the planes they flew, the changes in headgear they wore (to indicate the different eras in which they fought), and the view of the pilot as they were targeting enemy aircraft, namely the cross hairs of their guns. Due to the breadth of time and the number of Aces involved, simplicity was the key aspect called upon by member after member. Possible use of a four-blade propeller to divide the area of the medal into four quadrants was also discussed, as well as using elements of the American Fighter Aces Association, but not the actual association logo, which was determined to be unavailable by the Mint legal department.
The United States Mint will typically produce one or more design candidate alternatives for the obverse and reverse of the medal. These will be reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee prior to the official design selection by the Secretary of the Treasury. After the award of the American Fighter Ace Congressional Gold Medal, it will be given to the Smithsonian Institution where it will be available for display and research. The US Mint has also typically makes bronze duplicate versions of the gold medals available for sale to the public.