Womack Presents Congressional Gold Medal to Bentonville WWII Veteran
Womack presented Office of Strategic Services (OSS) veteran William Patterson with the Congressional Gold Medal
The OSS organized, trained, supplied, and fought with resistance organizations to defeat Axis forces during WWII
Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) today presented Bentonville resident and World War II veteran William “Pat” Patterson with a Congressional Gold Medal to honor his service with the Office of Strategic Services. The OSS played a critical role in helping the United States and its allies win WWII and establishing the American intelligence sector. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.
Congressman Womack said, “Lt. Patterson and all of the OSS patriots who defended our nation and democracy represent what makes America great. It may have taken some time, but I am ecstatic that at 98 years old, Pat and his comrades have received the recognition they long deserved. It was truly a privilege to present him with the Congressional Gold Medal today. We owe our Greatest Generation a debt that can never be repaid, and their heroic actions will forever be engrained into the memory of our nation. On behalf of a grateful country, god bless Lt. Patterson, and thank you for your service.”
During World War II, the OSS handled a variety of roles, including establishing secret intelligence networks, covertly dropping supplies to Allied forces, developing new technologies, and supporting resistance forces throughout Europe and Asia. Lieutenant Patterson served behind enemy lines in China in the Cryptographic and Message Center. The OSS employed an estimated 13,000 members, a third of whom were women.
While the work of OSS members saved lives and helped secure victory against Axis forces, many of their heroic contributions and covert operations remained secret for decades. Thanks to the advocacy of the OSS Society and the passage of the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act – legislation Rep. Womack cosponsored – the actions and contributions of the OSS were formally honored. Specifically, the bill called for the work of the men and women who served our nation in the OSS to be recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal. This award highlights the courage, dedication, and resourcefulness of OSS officers during WWII.
The replica medal presented to Lt. Patterson features the silhouettes of three agents: a woman in civilian clothes, a person in a parachute, and a man in a suit. Their faces are purposely left blank to symbolize the secrecy the OSS operated under. A spearhead, which is the official symbol of the OSS, and a collection of code words blanket the back of the medal. At today’s ceremony, Lt. Patterson was joined by his family and two of his friends who are also WWII veterans.
The OSS was founded in 1942 by President Franklin Roosevelt to collect and analyze strategic information and conduct covert and special operations. The agency served as a blueprint to create the Central Intelligence Agency and United States Special Operations Command.
Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) has represented Arkansas’s Third Congressional District since 2011. He serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget and is a member of the House Appropriations defense, military construction-veterans affairs, and labor-health and human services subcommittees. Additionally, he co-chairs the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform.
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