GLADEWATER/UPSHUR COUNTY (KYTX) - State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, announced on his Facebook page today that he filed legislation to designate a portion of U.S. 80 - from U.S. 271 in downtown Gladewater, to the eastern city limits of Big Sandy - as the "Sergeant Travis E. Watkins Memorial Highway."
Simpson filed the legislation today to honor Veteran's Day.
Master Sergeant Watkins served in the U.S. Army, was awarded the Bronze Star during World War II, and the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Korean War, Simpson said.
"It's thanks to people like Sgt. Watkins and the brave men and women currently serving in our military that we have a country of freedom and liberty," Simpson said on his Facebook page. "This Veterans Day I pray that we may never forget what our fellow patriots have sacrificed."
According to an account of Sergeant Watkins' bravery at www.history.army.mil/html/moh/koreanwar.html:
"Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company H, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division Place and date: Near Yongsan, Korea, 31 August through 3 September 1950. Entered service at: Texas. Birth: Waldo, Ark. G.O. No.: 9, 16 February 1951. Citation: M/Sgt. Watkins distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy.
"When an overwhelming enemy force broke through and isolated 30 men of his unit, he took command, established a perimeter defense and directed action which repelled continuous, fanatical enemy assaults. With his group completely surrounded and cut off, he moved from foxhole to foxhole exposing himself to enemy fire, giving instructions and offering encouragement to his men. Later when the need for ammunition and grenades became critical he shot 2 enemy soldiers 50 yards outside the perimeter and went out alone for their ammunition and weapons.
"As he picked up their weapons he was attacked by 3 others and wounded. Returning their fire he killed all 3 and gathering up the weapons of the 5 enemy dead returned to his amazed comrades. During a later assault, 6 enemy soldiers gained a defiladed spot and began to throw grenades into the perimeter making it untenable. Realizing the desperate situation and disregarding his wound he rose from his foxhole to engage them with rifle fire. Although immediately hit by a burst from an enemy machine gun he continued to fire until he had killed the grenade throwers.
"With this threat eliminated he collapsed and despite being paralyzed from the waist down, encouraged his men to hold on. He refused all food, saving it for his comrades, and when it became apparent that help would not arrive in time to hold the position ordered his men to escape to friendly lines. Refusing evacuation as his hopeless condition would burden his comrades, he remained in his position and cheerfully wished them luck. Through his aggressive leadership and intrepid actions, this small force destroyed nearly 500 of the enemy before abandoning their position.
"M/Sgt. Watkins' sustained personal bravery and noble self-sacrifice reflect the highest glory upon himself and is in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.
Watkins died Sept. 3, 1950, one year before he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was posthumously honored during a ceremony last March at Gladewater Memorial Cemetery where he is buried.