Concordia of Bella Vista Resident Pat Patterson Presented Congressional Gold Medal
World War II Veteran Recognized With Highest Civilian Honor
BELLA VISTA, Ark. (March 5, 2019) – Congressman Steve Womack presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Concordia of Bella Vista resident Pat Patterson, 98, for his service as an overseas intelligence officer in World War II.
The Concordia of Bella Vista community is honored to share the important stories of its residents.
Patterson, a lieutenant assigned behind enemy lines in China during the war, received the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow in recognition of his duties with the Office of Strategic Services. The OSS, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, played a critical role in defeating the enemies of the United States by establishing secret intelligence networks, developing new technologies and supporting resistance forces throughout Europe and Asia.
“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,” Womack said when he presented the medal to Patterson in October. “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 ingrained into the memory of our nation.”
Patterson, a Little Rock native, was a University of Arkansas student and a member of the ROTC when the United States entered World War II. Upon graduation he received a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army and volunteered to serve in the OSS.
“It was expected at that time that young men would be in the military,” Patterson said. “I volunteered even though I always said I would never volunteer.”
He said OSS agents received training from British spies because the American intelligence agency, established in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had no experience in covert operations.“We were amateurs,” Patterson said.
Patterson and a few other operatives served as the Cryptographic and Message Center. As a cryptographer, it was his job to make sure the enemy could not break their secret message codes.
He described the China assignment as “rough duty.” They rented a house instead of living on a military base, eating grass along with other meager rations. He used a silk parachute to keep warm and, at some point, he lost his sense of smell.
“No one understands what bad shape China was in,” Patterson said. “China had been at war with Japan since 1937. America wasn’t involved until 1945.”
His time in the army was his growing up period, exposing him to other parts of world and cultures, Patterson said. He has traveled through Africa and India, adding that his flight over the Himalayas was the most awe-inspiring sight he has ever seen.
He said he was thankful the war with Japan ended without a bloody invasion by U.S. armed forces, which might have included his small intelligence group. Instead, Japan surrendered after the United States destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs in early August 1945.
Patterson remembers decoding a message “For the Eyes of the General Only” just prior the atomic bomb attacks, which stated, “The United States will drop a large bomb tomorrow.”
The next day they knew what the large bomb was, he said, and the war was soon over.
Patterson said he has few regrets in his life. One thing he regrets is always working for someone else. He was employed by Westinghouse as an electrical engineer making a perfectly good living, but when he took early retirement and moved to Bentonville, Ark., he became a rancher with a tract of land by Rainbow Curve and a herd of cattle. He didn’t wear boots or a cowboy hat, but for twenty years he was his own boss -- and even made money.
Patterson said his Southern heritage is one thing he doesn’t regret. The seventh generation Arkansan led “a pleasantly prosaic life,” graduating from Central High without becoming acquainted with “any of those Yankees” until he went to war. The South changed dramatically after the Japanese plunged the United States into the war with the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Patterson said. He recalled a high school football game played the day before in which -- as usual -- the crowd stood as flags of both the United States and the Confederacy were presented on the field, then sang both the National Anthem and Dixie.
By the next weekend, only the United States flag was carried onto the football field, he said. The country was in the war together, as one nation.
Twenty-four years ago he married Jan, who is now 102 years old and whom Patterson describes as “a real Yankee.” He gave up his ranch and the couple eventually moved to Bedwell.
We believe the daughter of immigrant pioneer parents and the son of the South make a very pleasant couple!
“It was expected at that time that young men would be in the military. I volunteered even though I always said I would never volunteer.
Photo Caption: BELLA VISTA, Ark. (March 5, 2019) – Congressman Steve Womack presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Concordia of Bella Vista resident Pat Patterson, 98, for his service as an overseas intelligence officer in World War II. Patterson is pictured here with his wife of twenty-four years, Jan.
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About Concordia Retirement Center - Bella Vista, AR
Situated on 26 beautiful acres at 1 Concordia Drive, Concordia Retirement Center is a premier senior living community in Bella Vista, Ark., that offers independent living and assisted living services in a safe, attentive, homelike atmosphere. The facility, which is located in the beautiful Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas, is committed to serving the greatest generation with honor, respect, faith and integrity. More information is available at concordiaretirement.com or by calling (479) 855-3714.
Concordia Retirement Center is part of a family of senior living communities throughout the Southeast owned and/or operated by Legacy Senior Living, of Cleveland, Tenn. Legacy Senior Living specializes in offering independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s care services. More information is available at legacysl.net.