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Rubio, Warner, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Ensure Air America Employees Receive Federal Retirement Benefits They Have Earned

Jul 31, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Air America Act of 2020 (S. 4380), bipartisan legislation that would allow Air America employees to be eligible for federal retirement benefits. The legislation is identical to an amendment that Rubio filed to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and continues the Senator’s past support for these Americans.
“The brave men and women employed by Air America who conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War were critical to U.S. efforts,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to partner with Senator Warner, and our colleagues, to ensure that these Americans receive the long-overdue honor and recognition they deserve.”
“I am proud to cosponsor this bill with Senator Rubio that will provide long-overdue recognition and retirement benefits to the brave men and women who flew for Air America,” Warner said. “Air Americans were instrumental to the U.S. war effort in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, courageously supporting troops, rescuing downed American pilots and sustaining casualties in the service of their country. Air America was on call until the very end of the war, including flying the last helicopters out of Saigon where they evacuated Vietnamese civilians and the U.S. Embassy. It is time they be honored with the recognition they deserve, and the grateful thanks of a nation.”
Joining Rubio and Warner as original cosponsors of the legislation are Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Their employees worked under the direct policy guidance of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Air America employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members, and approximately 286 were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. The last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon in 1975 was planned and executed by Air America and the United States Marine Corps.
Since 2009, the declassification of CIA Agency documents confirmed that Air Americans were employees of the U.S. Government at the time of their service and are therefore entitled to federal retirement credit. Congress has maintained its interest in resolving the retirement situation of Air American employees for more than 15 years. During this process, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have all concluded that congressional action is required.