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Decades After Service, Veteran, Scholar, And Spy Gets Gold Medal Honor

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Brian Bull
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KLCC

More than 70 years after he served in World War II, a Eugene-area veteran, former spy, and retired English professor has received Congressional recognition.

At the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse, 96-year-old George Wickes stood before several dozen people as Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio presented him with a medallion.

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC
Wickes' medal is stamped "OSS", which stands for The Office of Strategic Service, which he served with in French-occupied Vietnam in the 1940s as a spy.

“…with our incredible gratitude for your extraordinary service, the Congressional Gold Medal.” (APPLAUSE, FADE)

Wickes was honored for his time with the Army, and the Office of Strategic Service, the predecessor to the CIA.  Wickes was a cryptographer in French-occupied Vietnam from 1943 to 1946. He says an American military intelligence unit was a fairly new concept.

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC
George Wickes, during his remarks before an audience of roughly 50 people at today's ceremony.

WEB EXTRA: SEE DEFAZIO PRESENT MEDAL TO WICKES

“They had special ops, and a good deal of action on the ground.  So it was quite important, yes.  We didn’t have any kind of intelligence like the British had.”

During his Vietnam term, Wickes’ commanding officer was killed, and he got involved in a firefight with guerrillas. He also interviewed independence leader Ho Chi Minh. 

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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