Obama signs bill honoring 'ace' pilots; Olympia man included
Retired Olympia Navy pilot Clarence “Spike” Borley is among those to be honored by legislation signed Friday by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House. The American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Act, or H.R. 685, was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, and Democratic Rep. Denny Heck of Olympia was first co-sponsor.
In a news release, Heck’s office said the bill authorizes the House speaker and Senate president pro tem to present a gold medal to fighter aces, whom he described as fighter pilots “credited with destroying five or more confirmed enemy aircraft in aerial combat.’’ The U.S. Mint designs and crafts the medals.
Borley, a World War II veteran, gave a statement through Heck’s office that said:
“I am pleased to accept this honor and do so in the name of the American citizens, whose support made these victories possible.”
Heck added in his news release:
“Cmdr. Borley represents the best in America, and 70 years after his heroism and sacrifice, his accomplishments are still relevant … Fighter Aces like Cmdr. Borley are a pivotal part of our defense during combat, and our current and future generations need to be aware of these heroes. With this medal, I hope to not only recognize these Fighter Aces, but also allow their stories to inspire future fighter pilots.”
Borley, who turns 90 in July, was born in North Dakota and downed five Japanese fighters while flying a Navy F6F Hellcat in the Pacific. He also was shot down and survived despite crash landing two miles off the coast of Formosa with shrapnel in his leg, according to biographic information collected by the congressman.
A compendium of pilots earning distinction as American fighter aces is here.