Gil Bauserman, the owner of Maryland Airport in Indian Head, has few memories of his father, who started the airport in the 1940s and died when Bauserman was 6.
He remembers asking his father for money to buy candy at a local store and the day he died in April 1950.
But a new memory was added Monday afternoon when he accepted the Civil Air Patrol Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of Charles A. Bauserman at the airport county officials have called “an economic engine” for Charles County.
Gil Bauserman said he never thought in his wildest dreams he would receive a medal for his father.
Civil Air Patrol members who served from Dec. 1, 1941, to the end of hostilities in World War II on Sept. 2, 1945, are eligible to receive a CAP Congressional Gold Medal if they or family members are able to provide evidence such as a photograph, orders or CAP identification that they served during that time, Lt. Col. Carlos Montague, commander of CAP’s Legislative Squadron, said.
Capt. Dennis Chappell, commander of the Charles Composite Squadron of CAP, said in a ceremony at the airport Monday afternoon that in the 40 years he has known Gil Bauserman, Bauserman often mentioned his support of the CAP. A few months ago, Bauserman showed Chappell why he supports the CAP. After seeing a photo of 2-year-old Gil with his father in his CAP uniform, Chappell said he submitted the photo as proof of Charles A. Bauserman’s service during WWII so he could receive the gold medal posthumously.
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer presented the medal to Gil Bauserman, and said it was an honor to recognize Charles Bauserman’s “tremendous contribution.”
Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) was a child when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. He said he did not recognize the fear Americans had that their shores would be invaded.
“Civil Air Patrol became a critical component of trying to allay our fears and keep our coasts safe,” Hoyer said. Charles Bauserman served with exemplary courage, character and leadership, then went on to lead the charge in building what is now known as Maryland Airport.
“When his nation called for heroes,” Hoyer said, “Charles Bauserman said: ‘Send me. Here am I.’ ” The medal is “the symbol of the thanks of a grateful nation” to residents who responded when their nation called.
Hoyer said that while Charles Bauserman is remembered, we also should remember the men and women now serving abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not about the value of the medal, but the value of the sentiment.
Charles County commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) presented a citation on behalf of the commissioners and Charles County residents to Gil Bauserman in recognition of his father’s WWII service, creating the airport and receiving the CAP Congressional Gold Medal.
Del. Sally Jameson (D-Charles) presented a citation on behalf of Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles) and the Maryland Senate, as well as a citation with Del. Edith Patterson (D-Charles) on behalf of the Maryland House of Delegates and Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles).
“As always, Gil, it’s great to be here with you, with your family, and with all of your friends and supporters of the airport,” Jameson said. “I want to say to you now, you know that I believe that this airport can become one of the greatest economic engines we have in this county.”
Patterson also presented Bauserman with a Maryland flag that was flown over the Maryland House of Delegates in honor of Charles Bauserman.
Col. John Knowles, Middle East Region commander of the CAP, said that in early 1941, the U.S. was sitting on the sidelines of World War II.
“The leaders of our great nation were already supporting the Allies’ fight with lend lease and other noncombat roles,” Knowles said. The CAP officially was formed Dec. 1, 1941, and brought together people from all walks of life with “a love for their country and a passion for aviation and a willingness to serve their country.”
Sixty-five CAP pilots were killed in the war, Knowles said. From July 1942 to April 1944, the Civil Air Patrol patrolled the U.S.-Mexican borders, and also carried mail and cargo for the war effort. From January 1942 until January 1946, the CAP conducted federally and military-assigned search-and-rescue missions.
Too young to serve in World War I and too old to serve in World War II, Charles Bauserman served the U.S. in the CAP by flying missions in his own airplane and building an airport in Charles County.
Gil Bauserman said his father was 46 in April 1950 when he had a heart attack in the backyard and died. He said his father would have been proud to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.
Bauserman said his father was an air raid warden during World War II, and drove around the neighborhood making sure lights were turned off at night.
“He took his job seriously,” Bauserman said.
Bauserman said his parents were married for 20 years before they became parents. His mother, Beulah Lee, died in 1997 just before her 95th birthday.