ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Army awarded a West Michigan man with a special forces tab and green beret Friday morning following his service in WWII.

Veteran Ellsworth Johnson served as a medic and member of the Office of Strategic Services Operational Group (OSSOG) between 1943 and 1945. During his time in the military, he parachuted into occupied France, trained, recruited and embedded himself with allied troops all while behind enemy lines. He conducted a similar mission in China as he fought against the Japanese.

OSSOG is “really the predecessor to special forces as we know it,” Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, Deputy Commanding General of United States Special Operations Command, said. “The unit that he was in is really the foundation of everything we have done in special forces.”

During an informal ceremony Friday at Riley’s Grove Assisted Living and Memory Care, Johnson was surrounded by friends and family while he was honored with the award.

Fighting back tears, Johnson said he was “emotionally drained.” He told News 8 that he was humbled by the turnout.

“He volunteered for this,” David Johnson, Al’s grandson, said. “This wasn’t something he was assigned. He went in and put the extra effort in to do something important.”

Johnson is believed to be the last living member of the OSSOG, which means Friday’s ceremony was not only the first for the U.S. Army but also the last.