Baucus, Miller Deliver Congressional Gold Medal for Devils Brigade
Nations First Special Service Force to Receive Congress Highest Honor
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Representative Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) secured Congress' highest honor for the nation's first Special Service Force after their bill cleared final passage in the Senate last week. Baucus and Miller have been working since 2011 to pass Congressional Gold Medal legislation for the 'Devil's Brigade'- a top-secret joint U.S.-Canadian force formed during WWII, which paved the way for the Special Forces units of today's armed forces. There are approximately 175 members of the Devil's Brigade still living in the U.S. and Canada today.
After the President signs the Baucus-Miller legislation into law, the Congressional Gold Medal will be minted and delivered to Ft. Harrison in Baucus' hometown of Helena, Montana, where the Devil's Brigade was based during WWII. Commemorative duplicate coins will also be minted and available for purchase.
"I can't think of anyone more deserving of Congress' highest honor than the Devil's Brigade. They were volunteers, lumberjacks and mountaineers who answered the call to serve and mastered unconventional tactics to do the impossible and help secure victory in World War II," Baucus said. "After more than a year's worth of work, I am proud to celebrate Independence Day by bringing the Congressional Gold Medal to Fort Harrison in honor of the service and sacrifice of Montana's own Devil's Brigade."
"It is important to honor the heroism and remember the sacrifices of the warriors of the First Special Service Force," Miller said. "The Devil's Brigade was a truly revolutionary force, and their impact on our military is still felt today. To all of the men and women who have guarded our great Nation, in the name of protecting and defending the liberties we hold so dear, thank you."
Baucus and Miller worked for more than a year with Ambassador Gary Doer and the Embassy of Canada to raise awareness about the Devil's Brigade and garner the support needed to secure the medal.
"We are grateful that the U.S. Congress has recognized the brave accomplishments of the First Special Service Force in World War II." said Ambassador Doer "The Devil's Brigade were the first of their kind, and the legacy of bilateral defense cooperation that they inspired continues between our two countries to this day."
Congressional Gold Medal legislation requires 67 co-sponsors in the Senate and 290 in the House before it can be considered for final passage. Miller's legislation passed the House May 21, 2013 and Baucus' bill cleared with unanimous support in the Senate June 27, 2013. The bill is now awaiting the President's signature.
Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester also co-sponsored the Senate legislation.
"The Devil's Brigade went above and beyond the call of duty to defeat tyranny in World War II and proved that America's service members are the best in the world," said Tester. "This Congressional Gold Medal honors their service and heroism and will remind future generations of the tremendous sacrifices made by America's Greatest Generation."
Additional Background on the Devil's Brigade:
Based out of Fort Harrison in Helena, the Devil's Brigade was a top-secret combat unit comprising 1,800 volunteers from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, including 84 Montanans and 32 Floridians.
Their training was the first of its kind and specialized in high alpine combat, covert amphibious landings, parachuting, and other non-conventional tactics.
When the war ended, the Devil's Brigade had suffered 2,314 casualties, equating to an astounding 134 percent of its original combat strength. It had captured more than 30,000 prisoners, won five U.S. campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors. The Devil's Brigade never failed a mission.
The Devil's Brigade was instrumental in the liberation of Rome, surprising and defeating massive German artillery units located on treacherous mountain peaks and rocky islands, and in freeing communities in southern France and Italy despite bitter resistance and extreme conditions.
The Devil's Brigade also engaged in large-scale raids against the infamous German Hermann Goering First Panzer Paratroop Division.
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