CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin is celebrating the signing of a bill to honor the nation’s elite fighter pilots.
Manchin was in attendance this week as President Barack Obama signed the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act. Manchin and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe were the lead sponsors of the bill.
Officials say the law will collectively award a Congressional Gold Medal to all American Fighter Aces. The pilots are only credited if they have destroyed five or more confirmed enemy aircraft in aerial combat.
Of the more than 60,000 U.S. military fighter pilots since World War I, less than 1,500 have been honored as a Fighter Ace, including 15 West Virginians.
Officials say that today, there are only about 100 Fighter Aces still living, including West Virginia native Gen. Chuck Yeager.