Gladewater celebrates annual medal of honor ceremony - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Gladewater celebrates annual medal of honor ceremony

GLADEWATER, TX (KLTV) - In what's become an East Texas tradition of spring, tribute is given to a hometown hero, and a medal of honor recipient, who gave his life to save his comrades in the Korean war.

"We conduct this medal of honor ceremony each year, simply  because it is the right thing to do," one veteran said.

Remembering army sergeant Travis E. Watkins, who was killed in action in Korea, has become something of a military tradition for East Texas veterans.

"I myself have had the privilege of serving and serving in the country of Korea. I've stood on those mountains stood on those hills that those men took," says Vietnam veteran Jon Bradberry.

In a solemn ceremony, Watkins was remembered for his sacrifice in Korea to save his comrades, and winning the congressional medal of honor.

"Its very important to get together and recognize the service of people that have donned the uniform of service. This is just one day. I think my grandfather honored clearly, humbled for sure," says WatWatkins'andson Jason Branch.

Some were in Gladewater when Watkins' body was brought home. 

"I saw them roll out a casket with a flag over it. I found out later this was Travis Watkins. And I have a special respect and caring for his grave site out here," says Marine corps veteran Leon Watson.

Local veterans were joined by patriot guard members and welcome home solder. A flyover of a vintage T-6 fighter honored Watkins.

"We've forgotten what it is the sacrifice that all these men have given us so we can have the freedoms that we have," Bradberry says.

A time for many to remember all that served, and all that were lost.

"Self sacrifice is not restricted to just those who've won medals. It's a characteristic that’s unique to all the men and women who serve our country", Branch says.

Watkins was a world war two veteran. He won the bronze star for fighting with forces at Guadal-canal against the Japanese. Watkins was awarded the congressional medal of honor in 1951 by president Harry Truman.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.
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