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White Plains Colonel, 91, Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), right, recently presented Civil Air Patrol Col. Johnnie Pantanelli of White Plains, left, with the Congressional Gold Medal. Photo Credit: Contributed.
From left, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), Civil Air Patrol Col. Johnnie Pantanelli of White Plains, and Wing Commander Col. Steven Perta at Pantanelli’s recent Congressional Gold Medal presentation in Lake George. Photo Credit: Contributed.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A Civil Air Patrol colonel from White Plains, who has more than 70 years of service, recently received a Congressional Gold Medal.

Col. Johnnie Pantanelli, 91, received the honor during the Civil Air Patrol’s New York Wing conference, in Lake George Saturday, May 2.

Pantanelli joined the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, in 1944 during World War II as an aircrew observer.

She also served nine months in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and was discharged after the war ended.

Pantanelli remained active with the Civil Air Patrol, mentoring hundreds of cadets.

She also pulled an unconscious man from a burning car in 1970, saving his life. During that era, the Civil Air Patrol awarded her a Bronze Medal of Valor.

“She is so well beloved by present and former members that a squadron Colonel Pantanelli commanded for decades now bears her name,” Civil Air Patrol Wing Commander Col. Steven Perta said in a press release.

Pantanelli said in a press release that seeing cadets go on to accomplish their goals in life has been the biggest reward of her decades of service.

“They come back after they’ve been out in the world and done all kinds of things and they say ‘thank you for helping me,’ and that’s where you get your real jollies,” she said.

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