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

Mar 20, 2019

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.

George Wickes (left) receives his Congressional Gold Medal from U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (right) at today's ceremony at the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

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.

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.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“…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.

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


“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. 

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