Earlier today, the Congressional Gold Medal was collectively awarded to the American Fighter Aces in recognition of their heroic service to the United States throughout the history of aviation warfare.
The award of the medal was authorized under Public Law 113-106. An American Fighter Ace is a fighter pilot who served honorably in a United States military service and destroyed five or more confirmed enemy aircraft in aerial combat during a war or conflict in which American armed forces participated. Aces have served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. More than 60,000 fighter pilots have flown since World War I, but fewer than 1,500 are called Fighter Aces.
The United States Mint had previously prepared six different obverse and eight different reverse design candidates for the medal, which were provided to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) for review and recommendation. Images of all design candidates can be found here. The recommendations of the CCAC and CFA can be found here.
The final designs selected by the Secretary of the Treasury appear below.
The obverse design features four pilots representing World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. An ace of spades appears at center with a winged globe below, symbolizing the global impact of the groups’ service. The inscriptions read “American Fighter Aces”, “Army”, “Navy”, “Air Force”, and “Marines”. The obverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
The reverse features four aircraft flown by American Fighter Aces with five stars to represent the minimum number of aerial combat victories required for certification. The inscriptions include “Duty, Courage, Aggressiveness”, “2014”, and “Act of Congress”. The reverse was designed and sculpted by Don Everhart.
As in the past, the United States Mint has made bronze duplicate versions of the Congressional Gold Medal available for sale. A 3-inch version of the medal is available priced at $39.95 and a 1.5-inch version of the medal is available priced at $6.95.