Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., brought back his proposal to have Air America employees who served during the Cold War have federal benefits.
Over the summer, Rubio introduced the “Air America Act” with more than a dozen cosponsors. Rubio brought it back this year with more than 25 co-sponsors. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is the main cosponsor.
“Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Their employees worked under the direct policy guidance of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),” Rubio’s office noted. “Air America employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members, and approximately 286 were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. The last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon in 1975 was planned and executed by Air America and the United States Marine Corps. Since 2009, the declassification of CIA Agency documents confirmed that Air Americans were employees of the U.S. Government at the time of their service and are therefore entitled to federal retirement credit. Congress has maintained its interest in resolving the retirement situation of Air American employees for more than 15 years. During this process, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have all concluded that congressional action is required.”
Rubio weighed in on the proposal last week when he reintroduced it.
“The brave men and women employed by Air America who conducted operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War were critical to U.S. efforts,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to partner with Senator Warner, and our colleagues, to ensure that these Americans receive the long-overdue honor and recognition they deserve.”
“I am proud to cosponsor this bill with Senator Rubio that will provide long-overdue recognition and retirement benefits to the brave men and women who flew for Air America,” Warner said. “Air Americans were instrumental to the U.S. war effort in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, courageously supporting troops, rescuing downed American pilots and sustaining casualties in the service of their country. Air America was on call until the very end of the war, including flying the last helicopters out of Saigon where they evacuated Vietnamese civilians and the U.S. Embassy. It is time they be honored with the recognition they deserve, and the grateful thanks of a nation.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., is championing the proposal in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.