Paramus Man Receives Congressional Gold Medal For Service As WWII Pilot
Milton “Manny” Shucard, 93 of Paramus, received the Congressional Gold Medal for his role in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II.
Milton “Manny” Shucard has accomplished plenty.
He fought 12 times as a professional boxer under the name “Jersey Devil” to provide for his family. He fully restored a 1959 Jaguar XK150 Roadster that was used in four movies. He even jumped out of planes as a paratrooper.
Now the 93-year-old Shucard can add another achievement to a life fully lived: a Congressional Gold Medal for his service as a Civil Air Patrol pilot during World War II.
Shucard on Tuesday was recognized for his war service at a ceremony held at CareOne at The Cupola, a senior community in Paramus where he has been a resident for about two years. Other residents, friends and family attended the event, where current members of the U.S. Air Force and local politicians, including Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera and Rep. Scott Garrett, thanked Shucard for his service.
“I feel like I’m the king of the throne,” said Shucard as he sat in the front of a room, dimly lit because of a sudden blackout. Still, people made a bee line toward him to offer congratulations or to take a picture with him.
Shucard, a former Paterson resident of more than 40 years, was a pilot and radio operator for the Civil Air Patrol, an organization of unpaid volunteers whose job was to patrol U.S. borders and search for enemy ships, in particular German U-boats. As a member of the patrol, Shucard also fixed planes and worked on experimental aircraft.
He said he joined the patrol for the same reason many others did: because he already had the skills needed for the job. “I was working on the aircraft long before I got into the Civil Air Patrol – that’s what got me into it,” he said. “When I heard they opened up right near where I lived, I joined it right away.”
The Civil Air Patrol was officially formed one week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The patrol comprised of more than 150,000 unpaid volunteers who flew their own planes and assisted the military. According to the Lt. Col. Amy Myzie of the Civil Air Patrol’s New Jersey Wing, it is not known how many members of the original unit are still alive.
As part of the patrol, Shucard would fly a plane from New Jersey to Canada, patrolling the coastline for enemy ships – though he never encountered any during his missions in his four-year service.
In addition to his service with the Civil Air Patrol, Shucard aviation credentials include working on the Nike missile project, an early anti-aircraft missile system; helping set up facilities to overhaul engines for the Israeli Air Force; and he was a mechanic for the aviation and aerospace company Curtiss-Wright Corp. in Wood-Ridge.
Shucard said he has a knack for “fixing anything.” “If it’s broken – give it to me, I’ll fix it,” he said. “Like my father, I took that from him.”
The Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian honors bestowed by Congress, was awarded to Shucard and other members of the Civil Air Patrol after legislation that passed in both houses of Congress. Past recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Simon Wiesenthal and Roberto Clemente.
According to Shucard’s children, the ceremony on Tuesday was the first time Shucard received recognition for his accomplishments.
“It’s amazing,” said his son, Jeff Shucard, who traveled from Vancouver Island in Canada to attend the ceremony. “It’s so unexpected.”
“He’s done so much,” said his daughter, Bette Klopacz who lives in Ramsey. She added, “You can see that he’s just so happy.”