Bella Vista vet­eran re­ceives Con­gres­sional Gold Medal

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - LYNN ATKINS

For many years, Pat Pat­ter­son didn’t talk about his ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing World War II, but when he be­gan talk­ing a few years back, he didn’t stop, said his son, Bill Pat­ter­son. On Wed­nes­day, 98year old Wil­liam “Pat” Pat­ter­son re­ceived the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal for his ser­vice with the OSS dur­ing World War II.

The medal was pre­sented by Con­gress­man Steve Wo­mack, who co-spon­sored the act that made the pre­sen­ta­tion pos­si­ble.

The OSS, Of­fice of Strate­gic Ser­vices, was the fore­run­ner to the CIA.

Pat­ter­son was a stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Arkansas and a mem­ber of the ROTC when the war be­gan. He was com­mis­sioned into the Army after grad­u­a­tion.

It was ex­pected at that time that young men would be in the mil­i­tary, he said. He vol­un­teered for the OSS.

“I vol­un­teered even though I al­ways said I would never vol­un­teer,” he said.

They were trained by the Bri­tish be­cause no Amer­i­cans had ex­pe­ri­ence in covert op­er­a­tions. “We were ama­teurs,” he said. He served in China, and it was “rough duty.”

“No one un­der­stands what bad shape China was in,” he said. China had been at war with Ja­pan since 1937. Amer­ica wasn’t in­volved un­til 1945.

He and a few oth­ers made up the Cryp­to­graphic and Mes­sage Cen­ter. They didn’t live on a mil­i­tary base. They rented a house and ate what­ever they could get. He re­mem­bers eat­ing grass along with their mea­ger ra­tions. He used a silk parachute to keep warm and, at some point, he lost his sense of smell.

They were pre­par­ing for the in­va­sion of Ja­pan.

“Thank good­ness we didn’t have to go.”

Two nu­clear bombs ended the war be­fore Pat­ter­son and his small group could be sent to Ja­pan.

Two of Pat­ter­son’s three chil­dren were at the cer­e­mony, along with his wife, Jan. Two friends who are also World War II vet­er­ans ac­com­pa­nied him.

Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista

Con­gress­man Steve Wo­mack poses with Pat Pat­ter­son and his wife Jan after pre­sent­ing the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal to the World War II vet­eran. Pat­ter­son served with the Of­fice of Strate­gic Ser­vices, a fore­run­ner of the CIA.

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