LINCOLN (CBS) – It’s a long overdue recognition of a hero’s service to the United States for a 98-year-old Lincoln woman who was a spy during World War II.
Patricia Warner received one of the nation’s highest honors Tuesday – the Congressional Gold Medal. And through the applause and accolades, this humble hero maintained the composure that served her well undercover.
“We’d love to present to you a Congressional Gold Medal that we had made for you to thank you for your service,” Rep. Katherine Clark said as she presented the award to Warner before a gathering of family and friends at the Lincoln Public Library.
“Can you see it? It’s beautiful. It looks like it’s solid gold,” Warner responded.
It was 1942, and Patricia’s husband was killed in action on his ship during the Battle of Guadalcanal.
“My husband was killed in the war, and I wanted to do something useful,” she said. So she joined the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, America’s spy agency that would one day become the CIA.
Warner was sent to Spain, which was pro-Nazi. Her job was to infiltrate high society, hob-knob, keep her ears open and report back.
“I didn’t feel I was in great danger at every moment, but I knew the Germans had my number,” Warner said.
She also communicated with the French underground to help downed American pilots escape the Nazi-occupied country.
“There has been a renewed interest in women’s roles in World War II that often went untold and unsung,” Clark said.
“It means a lot. I don’t think anyone ever thanked me, and I never thought I needed thanking. But to see this now is very touching and I’m very grateful,” Warner said.
Other recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include George Washington, Thomas Edison and Rosa Parks.