Virginia Bloom was just 13 when she joined the Civil Air Patrol. The country was in the middle of World War II, and Virginia, a cadet who was educated in navigation, served in Richmond. Their main assignments included search-and-rescue missions and transporting medicine and other necessary supplies.
Bloom, 86, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for her service Sunday at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach. The ceremony begins at 3 p.m.
Bloom’s daughter Nancy said by email that the recognition would not have happened if not for a chance encounter this summer between Virginia and a stranger who told her about Congress’ approval in 2014 of the honor to recognize those who served at home during World War II and contributed to the effort.
“I was really shocked when they told me that I was eligible,” Virginia Bloom said. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing.”
Nancy said they’d like to spread the word so others can get the same recognition.
“Nothing would make my family happier than to ‘pay this forward’ by trying to reach even more local citizens who served in the CAP who also deserve to be honored,” she wrote.
The Civil Air Patrol was established in 1941. It was responsible for various missions during the war, including coastal
patrols and postal services. Units were made up of volunteers; more than 200,000 men and women served during the war.
Virginia Bloom said it taught her leadership and responsibility and gave her an incredible experience, including the chance to fly in a variety of planes, see many interesting places and work as a part of a team. Her had died around that time, as well, so she leaned on the patrol for support.
“The officers were really supportive,” she recalled. “They gave me a father image I didn’t have.”