The ceremony, hosted by the East Texas Korean War Veterans Association, will take place at noon at the Gladewater Memorial Cemetery on U.S. Highway 80 for Master Sgt. Travis Watkins.
Watkins is buried there and was awarded the medal for his bravery in 1950 after he died. Watkins had protected 30 men of his unit from enemy fire in Korea when they were isolated in foxholes after an overwhelming enemy force had broken through, according to information received from James Gill, president of the East Texas chapter of the Association.
The incident happened from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, 1950. After Watkins was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down while saving his men from enemy grenades, he encouraged his men to hold on.
According to the information from the Korean War Veterans Association, Watkins “refused all food, saving it for his comrades and when it became apparent help would not arrive in time to hold the position, he ordered his men to escape to friendly lines.” He refused the evacuations, because he didn't want to burden them and cheerfully wished them luck, according to the information from the association.
If the date falls during the week, the East Texas chapter of the association celebrates it on the Saturday nearest March 25, according to information from the association.
“We have held a ceremony each year since 2008 (for Master Sgt. Watkins),” said James Gill, president of the East Texas chapter of the association.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force given to a member of the armed forces. The President of the United States awards it in the name of Congress, to “individuals who have distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty,” a copy of the 2007 Senate resolution stated.
In 1862, Massachusetts Senator Harry Wilson introduced a bill creating an Army Medal of Honor for privates and non-commissioned officers in the Army, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor website. In March 1863, Army officers were included as potential honorees.
For more about National Medal of Honor Day, go to www.cmohs.org.