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Contact Your Representative in Support of the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act

Urge your United States House of Representatives to honor our World War II heroes of the OSS by passing a resolution to allow the granting of the Congressional Gold Medal to veterans of the Office of Strategic Services, forerunners of the Central Intelligence Agency and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

On Nov. 4, 2015 Senators Roy Blunt [R-MO] and Mark Warner [D-VA] introduced a Bill to the Senate which would award the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II. This bill passed in the Senate on Feb. 22, 2016, and has gone on to the House for consideration.

Office of Strategic Services Weapons Training

Candidates for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) train at Prince William Forest Park, Va. National Archives and Records Administration photo

Why is it so important to honor the veterans of the OSS?

At its peak, during World War II, the OSS was comprised of 13,000 personnel recruited from all parts of American society. The ideal OSS recruit was once described as “a Ph.D. who could win a bar fight,” and indeed some of America’s leading academics were recruited by the OSS’ Research and Analysis Branch. Along with gathering intelligence, the OSS Jedburgh teams and Operational Groups took more direct action against the enemy. Many  OSS members went behind enemy lines, where they trained, supplied and led resistance movements in Europe and Asia.  The OSS laid the foundation for U.S. national security and present day intelligence and special operations communities.

William J. Donovan

General William Joseph Donovan, founder and head of the OSS. OSS Society photo.

To make the process of contacting your Representative in support of this bill easy, the fine people at the OSS Society have provided a pre-written letter.

Simply copy and paste the following letter into an email to your Representative. Most Representative’s web pages have a “contact us” link, where you can find an email link. Use this tool to find your Representative’s web page.

SAMPLE LETTER (Courtesy of the OSS Society)

Dear Representative [write the name of your representative]:

As a constituent, I am writing to ask you to cosponsor the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act (H.R. 3929). The OSS was the World War II predecessor to the CIA and U.S. Special Operations Forces. It was founded and led by General William Donovan, a World War I Medal of Honor recipient and the only American to receive our nation’s four highest decorations. The OSS drew its personnel from every military branch and the civilian population. They included the “French Chef’ Julia Child; the actor Sterling Hayden, who served in the OSS Maritime Unit, a forerunner of the U.S. Navy SEALs; Col. William Eddy (who has been described as the “Lawrence of America”); Ralph Bunche, the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg; Pulitzer Prize recipient Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.; Col. Peter Ortiz, a two-time Navy Cross recipient; Virginia Hall, the only American civilian woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II; James Donovan, who was portrayed by Tom Hanks in “Bridge of Spies” and served as the OSS general counsel; and four directors of the CIA: William Casey, William Colby, Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. Gen. Donovan said OSS personnel performed “some of the bravest acts of the war.”

The OSS gathered intelligence that was critical to the success of D-Day and the invasions of North Africa (Torch) and southern France (Dragoon). Many members of the OSS went behind enemy lines. The OSS trained, supplied and led resistance movements in Europe and Asia. It undertook perhaps the greatest rescue mission of World War II (Operation Halyard). Its Research and Analysis Branch recruited America’s leading academics. OSS Detachment 101 in Burma pioneered the use of unconventional warfare. The OSS launched “mercy missions” at the end of World War II that saved the lives of thousands of Allied prisoners of war. It laid the foundation for the present day intelligence and special operations communities.

There are very few surviving OSS veterans. Given the secrecy that surrounded their work in World War II, their bravery has only come to light in recent years with the declassification of OSS records. As a result, members of the OSS have never been properly recognized for their trailblazing and heroic service. H.R. 3929 would collectively award a Congressional Gold Medal to the men and women of the OSS whom General Donovan called his “glorious amateurs.”

A companion bill was recently passed by the U.S. Senate (S. 2234). More than 50 congresspersons have signed on a cosponsors of the House bill (H.R. 3929). We need 290 cosponsors before the bill can be taken up in committee. Please become a cosponsor now by contacting Jason Isakovic on Rep. Bob Latta’s staff at jason.isakovic@mail.house.gov.

Thank you for your consideration.

[Be sure to include your name and mailing address.]