Col. Gordon Ebbert had many loves; motorcycles, ice cream, women, but flying always came first.
Ebbert, a Moses Lake resident who died last October, posthumously received a Congressional Gold Medal on Tuesday during a ceremony in the Washington State Senate Chamber for his service in the Civil Air Patrol.
“He, like many Americans in his generation, served in World War II greatly, and then he came back and served quietly in the community that he lived in,” said Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake.
The Civil Air Patrol was commissioned in 1941, and during World War II the patrol defended the coasts from German U-boats. Ebbert was one of fewer than 100 Civil Air Patrol founding members to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.
“I wish he could be here to receive it,” said Doug Sly, the director of public information at Big Bend Community College where Ebbert helped start the flight program.
In total, four Washingtonians received the award during the ceremony. Ebbert’s great nephew, Peter Nelson, attended the ceremony to receive the medal on Ebbert’s behalf. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen handed out the medals after reading a short biography of each individual.
“It’s amazing,” said Terry Ward, of Juneau, Alaska, one of Ebbert’s nephews. “I’m really proud of him for receiving that. He loved what he did.”
Ebbert started taking flying lessons in 1929 at the age of 16. Ebbert was able to continue flying into his 90s and logged a total of 11,000 flight hours. After World War II, Ebbert continued serving in the Civil Air Patrol, performing search and rescue missions.