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Vietnam veteran belatedly recognized for wartime heroism

Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 9 will host a ceremony at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Friday to award a Navy Commendation Medal with Valor and Presidential Unit Citation to a Vietnam veteran.

Retired Senior Chief Engineman Gerald E. Patterson, a Renton resident, is being recognized for heroic achievement while serving as leading engineman with Assault Craft Unit One (ACU-1) in Dong Ha Ramp, Republic of South Vietnam in 1967.

The ceremony will take place at the Skywarrior Theater at 10 a.m. The guest speaker will be Reserve Navy Capt. Gary Buchanan, senior manager of human resources for the Port of Seattle and a champion for the port’s Veterans Fellowship Program that provides employment and support services to veterans re-entering the workforce.

“Senator Patty Murray and her staff were instrumental in making this award possible for Mr. Patterson,” Buchanan said.

Patterson served 20 years in the Navy and retired from the Port of Seattle. According to the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal citation:

“While on watch, Patterson observed a number of underwater explosions in the immediate vicinity. As he was trying to contact his officer-in-charge, he was lifted and thrown to the deck by an explosion beneath his own craft, leaving him stunned and unable to walk. Upon regaining his senses and fearing the underwater explosions were a prelude to a general attack, despite the smoke and gas seeping from the engine room, Patterson entered the space to effect repairs. Working in heavy smoke, he identified and corrected the engine casualties, allowing his craft to get underway and avoid further damage.”

Patterson will also receive a Presidential Unit Citation for “extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against enemy forces during Operation Hue City conducted in Thua Thien Province, Republic of Vietnam in 1968.”

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