GLADEWATER, Texas: The Gladewater Corsairs Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol attended the Medal of Honor Ceremony which was held at the Gladewater Memorial Cemetery on Saturday, March 23, 2013. The City of Gladewater and the Korean War Veterans of America (KWVA,) sponsor this ceremony each year. It has been our honor to be invited to attend this event each year.
The Ceremony specifically honors Master Sargent Travis E. Watkins who was killed in action during the Korean War. Sargent Watkins gave his life to save the lives of his men when they were heavily engaged while behind enemy lines by a superior enemy force. He was seriously wounded and, realizing that he would unnecessarily hinder his men’s opportunity to escape, he ordered them to leave him behind. Though he was killed by the enemy his men successfully made their way back to allied lines.
Honored guests attending who spoke during the Ceremony included Lieutenant Colonel Kang Moon Ho, Defense Attaché in the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, and His Honor the Mayor of Gladewater, Mr. Harold Wells. The Mayor read a proclamation recognizing Medal of Honor Day. Colonel Kang Moon Ho delivered a stirring, heartwarming speech expressing the gratitude of the Korean people and Government to the United States and our servicemen and women.
A bagpiper played while Colonel Ho placed a wreath on Master Sargent Watkins’ grave and a reading describing the symbolism and purpose of a POW/MIA/KIA (Prisoner of War/Missing In Action/Killed In Action) table was offered by Lieutenant Colonel Leo Glover, US Army Retired. There was a gun salute, taps were played and there was a missing man flyover to close the Ceremony.
Our members went to lunch together after leaving the cemetery. During lunch, there was a lot of discussion about the event which we had attended. The Cadets, in particular, began asking questions about the freedoms which American citizens enjoy. As several of the Senior Members were veterans, they could relate experiences from serving in other countries. There were several “ah ha” moments as various stories were told which contrasted with the freedoms which we all now enjoy. The entire experience that day seemed to enlighten the Cadets about how much they should appreciate what we have here in the United States. There were some important lessons learned from the speech offered by Colonel Ho and the real life experiences of the Senior Members.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 54 lives in fiscal year 2011. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 70 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com,www.capvolunteernow.com for more information. You may also contact Captain Harold Parks at 903-762-1133 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Members of the Gladewater Squadron attending included:
Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Davis
Captain Harold Parks
Cadet Second Lieutenant Matt Brown
Cadet Chief Master Sargent Jordan Trewitt
Cadet Technical Sargent Seth Grimes
Cadet Senior Airman Austin Page
Cadet Airman First Class Gavin Downing
Cadet Airman Marcos Jimenez
Cadet Airman Basic Billy Phelps