Civil Air Patrol Veteran Receives Congressional Gold Medal Award For Service In WWII

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Ralph Watson was presented the Congressional Gold Medal Thursday (Oct. 20) for his service in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II.

"I don't deserve this," Watson said. "I did it really for the people that served with me. They were great people to be with."

U.S. Congressman Steve Womack and U.S. Senator John Boozman presented Watson with the medal.

"For [his] children, grandchildren, and in this case, a bunch of great-grandchildren, to understand the service and sacrifice for what we call the greatest generation," Boozman said.

"It starts with looking at the picture that was circulated in the room here," Womack said. "What I see in a young man like that is what is embodied in the person back in that era that was truly grateful and appreciative for being born in a country like America."

Watson began his service by joining the Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserve 73 years ago and comes from a family with three generations of Civil Air Patrolmen.

"Back when I served, everybody worked," Watson said. "130 million of us fed and clothed this country and a good bit of the world."

Watson presented his great-grandsons with signed copies of a magazine highlighting the Congressional Gold Medal.

"[I'm] very grateful and very lucky," Watson said. "[I'm] lucky for one thing -- being born in America and for being born into the family I was raised in."

Watson shared many stories as he celebrated with family and friends, even telling 5NEWS about the president he shared a birthday with.

"Franklin D. Roosevelt had the same birthday, Jan. 30," Watson said. "I wrote him a letter when I was 11 years old, and I got a letter back from him. His secretary sent me a handkerchief. Can you beat that?"