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Two Pa. National Guardsmen receive Catto Medal

Army Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, adjutant general of Pa. (left) with 2013 Octavius
V. Catto Medal recipients Army Sgt. 1st Class Bruce E. Facer, Sr. (center) and
Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson (right) at an official award ceremony held Feb. 23 at the
Union League in Philadelphia.

Army Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, adjutant general of Pa. (left) with 2013 Octavius V. Catto Medal recipients Army Sgt. 1st Class Bruce E. Facer, Sr. (center) and Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson (right) at an official award ceremony held Feb. 23 at the Union League in Philadelphia.

Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson, recipient of the Pennsylvania’s Octavius V. Catto Medal, and wife Melissa, attend the presentation ceremony on Feb. 23 held at the Union League in Philadelphia. The Union League, celebrating over 150 years there, is host to numerous events honoring the military of the past, present and future.

Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson, recipient of the Pennsylvania’s Octavius V. Catto Medal, and wife Melissa, attend the presentation ceremony on Feb. 23 held at the Union League in Philadelphia. The Union League, celebrating over 150 years there, is host to numerous events honoring the military of the past, present and future.

The Honorable Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, is presented a letter of appreciation from the Catto Society of Philadelphia on Feb. 23 during the 18th annual O.V. Catto Memorial Ceremony held at the Star Gardens Recreation Center at 6th and Lombard streets in Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter is the first mayor to have attended the ceremony.

The Honorable Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, is presented a letter of appreciation from the Catto Society of Philadelphia on Feb. 23 during the 18th annual O.V. Catto Memorial Ceremony held at the Star Gardens Recreation Center at 6th and Lombard streets in Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter is the first mayor to have attended the ceremony.

Lt. Col. Scott Hreso, vice-air commander of the 111th Fighter Wing, speaks to a standing room only audience on Feb. 23 at the 18th annual O.V. Catto Memorial Ceremony held at the Star Gardens Recreation Center at 6th and Lombard streets in
Philadelphia. Hreso spoke to the attendees about the positive leadership and commitment Catto demonstrated nearly 150 years ago.

Lt. Col. Scott Hreso, vice-air commander of the 111th Fighter Wing, speaks to a standing room only audience on Feb. 23 at the 18th annual O.V. Catto Memorial Ceremony held at the Star Gardens Recreation Center at 6th and Lombard streets in Philadelphia. Hreso spoke to the attendees about the positive leadership and commitment Catto demonstrated nearly 150 years ago.

Pa. Deputy Adjutant General-Army, Maj. Gen. Randall R. Marchi (left), Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson, recruiter, 111th Fighter Wing, Phyllis Brantley, chief of diversity and special programs with the National Guard Bureau, Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Melvene Lanier, Sgt. 1st Class Bruce E. Facer, Sr., readiness non-commissioned officer, Bravo Company, 628th Aviation Support Battalion and Pa. Deputy Adjutant General-Air, Col. Anthony J. Carrelli gather at the close of the 2013 Octavius V. Catto Medal held at the Union League in Philadelphia on Feb. 23.

Pa. Deputy Adjutant General-Army, Maj. Gen. Randall R. Marchi (left), Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson, recruiter, 111th Fighter Wing, Phyllis Brantley, chief of diversity and special programs with the National Guard Bureau, Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Melvene Lanier, Sgt. 1st Class Bruce E. Facer, Sr., readiness non-commissioned officer, Bravo Company, 628th Aviation Support Battalion and Pa. Deputy Adjutant General-Air, Col. Anthony J. Carrelli gather at the close of the 2013 Octavius V. Catto Medal held at the Union League in Philadelphia on Feb. 23.

Pa. Air National Guardsmen, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson (right) and Pa. Army National Guardsmen, Sgt. 1st Class Bruce E. Facer, Sr. stand at attention next to Army Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, adjutant general of Pa. as their citations are read for presentation of the Octavius V. Catto Medal on Feb. 23 at the Union League in Philadelphia. The award recognizes Pa. National Guard member’s contributions toward citizenship, volunteerism and commitment to duty.

Pa. Air National Guardsmen, Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson (right) and Pa. Army National Guardsmen, Sgt. 1st Class Bruce E. Facer, Sr. stand at attention next to Army Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, adjutant general of Pa. as their citations are read for presentation of the Octavius V. Catto Medal on Feb. 23 at the Union League in Philadelphia. The award recognizes Pa. National Guard member’s contributions toward citizenship, volunteerism and commitment to duty.

Members of the 3rd Regiment U.S. Colored troops stand guard during the wreath laying ceremony honoring fallen Army Guardsman, Maj. Octavius V. Catto on Feb. 23. Catto was assassinated in 1871 near his home, in what is now considered Old City Philadelphia. Soldiers of the 3rd Regiment can be regularly seen through the region wearing period-correct uniforms at parades, events and commemorations.

Members of the 3rd Regiment U.S. Colored troops stand guard during the wreath laying ceremony honoring fallen Army Guardsman, Maj. Octavius V. Catto on Feb. 23. Catto was assassinated in 1871 near his home, in what is now considered Old City Philadelphia. Soldiers of the 3rd Regiment can be regularly seen through the region wearing period-correct uniforms at parades, events and commemorations.

On Feb. 23, color guard members from the Air Force Jr. ROTC program of the Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Philadelphia, stand fast as a 21-gun salute cracks the morning air during the 18th annual Octavius V. Catto ceremony in Center City Philadelphia. Shown left is Joey Baez (color guard commander), Noah Johnson, Sean Hydock, Sam Rinear and checking alignment overtop is Wallace Lugardo.

On Feb. 23, color guard members from the Air Force Jr. ROTC program of the Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Philadelphia, stand fast as a 21-gun salute cracks the morning air during the 18th annual Octavius V. Catto ceremony in Center City Philadelphia. Shown left is Joey Baez (color guard commander), Noah Johnson, Sean Hydock, Sam Rinear and checking alignment overtop is Wallace Lugardo.

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, PA --        Two servicemen with the Pa. National Guard were recognized on Sat. Feb. 23 at the Union League in Philadelphia during the second annual Major Octavius V. Catto ceremony for their contributions toward citizenship, volunteerism and commitment to duty.
       Army Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Facer, Sr., readiness non-commissioned officer, Bravo Company, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Watson, recruiter with the 111th Fighter Wing, Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. and were the recipients of this year's award.
       Facer, having served in three branches of the military, began his career in 1985 with the Navy. In 1990 he enlisted in the Pa. Air National Guard then transferred to the Pa. Army National Guard in 2000, where he has been since. Facer has pursued a broadening of his professional development courses over his Army career to include small arms/range operations, small arms simulation course and small arms master gunner.
       Facer's community service includes serving more than 20 years in the Mount Carmel volunteer fire department, of which he spent two years in the lieutenant capacity. He also is active in his local Elks Club in a lead capacity, promoting community activities such as sponsoring parades and visits to elderly veterans in his area.
       Watson, as well, has a multi-service background having enlisted with the U.S. Marines as an infantryman in 2001 where he deployed on three occasions to Iraq conducting counter-insurgency operations. Watson joined the Pa. Air National Guard in 2006, initially in the firefighting career field and has since transferred to be a recruiter with the 111th Fighter Wing.
       Working with a local Civil Air Patrol squadron, Watson had organized a cadet orientation program and instructed cadets in physical fitness and land navigation at the Horsham Air Guard Station. He also devotes time to the local Boy Scout troop as an active Eagle Scout leader providing mentorship and guidance to the members. 
       "I'm so humbled and surprised by my selection to receive this award," said Watson.
       The Major Octavius V. Catto Medal, commemorating a martyred Civil War era Guardsmen from Philadelphia, was re-established two-years ago to recognize Pa. National Guardsmen for their public service and community support.
       Catto, an African-American major serving as the inspector general with 5th Brigade in the Army Guard here, was assassinated on the streets of Center City Philadelphia in 1871 during elections by political opponents to the African-American's right to vote. 
       Catto was called to active duty to quell an uprising resulting from the opposition and violence to thwart the black vote. While heading home to prepare himself and others, he was shot dead near his house.
       The funeral that followed would be the largest gathering for a public funeral since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. He had been remembered as a philosopher, educator and activist, yet still his grave marker carries "The Forgotten Hero" engraving.
       "It is no coincidence that the Catto remembrance ceremony happens in February," speaking at an earlier event said Dr. Anthony (Andy) Waskie, professor and historian at Temple University in Philadelphia. "It comes at the tail-end of black history month and closely marks Catto's birthdate."
       The earlier event was held at 6th and Lombard streets at the Starr Garden Recreation Center. Community leadership such as Philadelphia's mayor, Michael A. Nutter and Fire Commissioner, Lloyd Ayers were in attendance to pay their respects during a wreath-laying ceremony. The event was sponsored by, among others, the O.V. Catto Society, the General Meade Society of Philadelphia and the 3rd U.S. Colored Troops military unit. 
       "I find it so amazing that a man brought down at only 32-years-old could manage to do so much in such little time," said keynote speaker, Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Hreso, acting Mission Support Group commander of the 111th Fighter Wing as he spoke to the tightly-packed crowd of nearly 100 about the leadership examples set forth by Catto and his father. "An activist for equality, a professor and dean, of what is now Cheyney University, and from what I hear, quite a baseball shortstop."
       Army Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, the adjutant general for Pennsylvania presided over the official awards presentation hosted by the Union League of Philadelphia.
       These two members represent the best of the 1 percent, said Craig talking about the military membership population of the U.S.

       The award namesake, Octavius V. Catto, was born in Charleston, S.C. in 1839, and moved to Philadelphia in 1848. He was the son of William Catto, a minister and an anti-slavery activist, who would later join up with Frederick Douglass, Henry Garnet, Robert Purvis, and Charles Redmond.
       Octavius became an advocate for the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed freedom to vote regardless of race, color, or previous servitude status. He was invited to join the Pennsylvania National Guard's 5th Brigade, promoted to the rank of Major, and assigned as the brigade's Inspector General.
       During a controversial election day in Oct. 1871, while walking through a disputed district to his home to retrieve his uniform and equipment, Catto was accosted by a hired assassin and known associate of the political opposition. He was shot first in the back, then shot again at close range. He fell dead a few steps from his home on South Street.