WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced that she’s joined Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in introducing the Air America Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation that would allow Air America employees – including retired personnel living in Nevada – to be eligible for federal retirement benefits. Senator Rosen co-sponsored identical legislation last Congress.
“For decades, Air America employees made incredible contributions to U.S. military operations during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and over the course of the Cold War era,” said Senator Rosen. “These brave men and women of Air America were performing covert operations to transport American equipment and personnel through combat zones, putting themselves in harm’s way. I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation that would provide these heroic individuals – including many Nevadans – the recognition they deserve and the full retirement benefits they are entitled to.”
BACKGROUND: Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and the 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.