Sylvia Wolff Henkin, a prominent figure in the Sioux Falls community, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the Civil Air Patrol in recognition of its members’ service and exemplary record during World War II. It is estimated 120,000 men, women and teenagers joined CAP immediately before and during the war. Sylvia, now 93, was one of them.

Sylvia and her late husband Mort were early co-owners of KSOO-AM.

She is the only known living recipient of this Congressional Gold Medal in the state. South Dakota also has three deceased members of that original founding group; Earl Wilkinson and Vernon Jeffries, both of Rapid City, and Laverne “Vern” Kraemer of Deadwood. All three are buried in South Dakota.

Around 1938 the U.S. The government offered free flying lessons to civilians to stimulate an interest in aviation. Unbeknown to Sylvia, her brothers had signed her up and she attended flight training in Sheldon. Iowa. She was the only woman in a class of 13. She earned her private pilot’s license in 1940 and became a member of the Civil Air Patrol in order to put her pilot’s skills to use in defense of the nation.

During World War II almost all private civilian aircraft, except those used by CAP, were grounded. The CAP had many important duties, one of which was keeping watch on coastal waters and inland waterways. Sylvia patrolled the Floyd River in Iowa. "And I want you to know, there was never a Japanese submarine sighted in that stretch of water on my guard,” she said with a smile.

Ms.Henkin moved to Sioux Falls in 1944 where she began her decades-long involvement in the local media, participation in businesses, associated with community activities and commitment to local philanthropy.

The formal award ceremony is on Dec. 10, 2014 in Washington, D. C.inthe Capitol. It will then be kept at the Smithsonian Museum where it can be accessed by scholars and researchers. At a banquet that evening, WW II CAP veterans and/or their families in attendance will be presented with a replica medal in bronze. CAP veterans and/or their families not able to travel toWashington D.C.fortheceremony will have the replica bronze medal presented to them in their home states.

The South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol will be scheduling award ceremonies in South Dakota for Mrs. Henkin and theotherawardees’familymembers.

More information about CAP’S World War II service is available at CAP’s Congressional Gold Medal website at:

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