Bella Vista veteran receives Congressional Gold Medal
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.
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.