Sample of a Congressional Gold Medal


The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress to persons who have performed an act that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the actual achievement. 

Bill H.R. 685 was introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas on February 14, 2013, passed in the House on May 19, 2014, passed in the Senate on May 20, 2014, by unanimous vote, and signed by the President on May 23, 2014. The bill became Public Law 113-105.

The United States Mint designed, and will strike a medal, to specifically commemorate the American Fighter Aces achievements for which the medal was awarded.  A single Gold Medal is 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. 

Following the official Award Ceremony on May 20, 2015, in the U.S. Capitol, the Gold Medal will be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be available for display and research. The Mint typically makes bronze duplicate versions available for sale to the public.




Present for the signing (left to right): Doug King, Museum of Flight President; Sylvia King (Doug's wife); ACE: Tilly Pool; ACE: Billy Watts; Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA); Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV); President Barack Obama; Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH); ACE: Fred Dungan; Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), ACE: Kelly Gross; Ramona Gross (Kelly's wife); Anne Simpson, Museum of Flight Co-Chair; & Gregg Wagner, PhD.

Photo provided by Dr. Gregg Wagner, AFAA Board Member




Senator Sam Johnson and and Senator Heck were the original sponsors of HR 685.

Sam Johnson is a native Texan, and ranks among the few Members of Congress to fight in combat.

During his 29-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Representative Johnson flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He endured nearly seven years as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi, including 42 months in solitary confinement.

A decorated hero, Johnson was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, one Bronze Star with Combat "V" for Valor, two Purple Hearts, four Air Medals, and three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.

He also was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal following its establishment in 1985.