December 01, 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) lauded House passage of legislation to honor veterans of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) with a Congressional Gold Medal. The bill recognizes the members of the intelligence agency for their “superior service and major contributions during World War II.” The Senate bill was introduced by Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Mark Warner (Va.), and passed the Senate in February. Congressman Bob Latta (Ohio) introduced companion legislation in the House.
The OSS, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, conducted critical operations during the war including establishing intelligence networks, training resistance organizations throughout Europe and Asia, and carrying out “mercy missions” at the end of the WWII to save the lives of thousands of Allied prisoners of war. Since the legislation previously passed the Senate, the bill will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“The members of the OSS saved thousands of lives during World War II,” said Blunt. "From establishing intelligence networks deep behind enemy lines to bolstering resistance organizations throughout Europe and Asia, these intelligence officers played a critical role in securing the Allied victory. I urge the president to sign this bill so we can move forward in officially recognizing the heroic efforts of the OSS members with the Congressional Gold Medal.”
Latta added, “Honoring veterans of the OSS with a Congressional Gold Medal will ensure that their heroic actions during one of our country’s most trying times will not be forgotten. The clandestine nature of the OSS often meant members had to operate behind enemy lines in situations calling for unquestionable bravery and unparalleled skill. Their actions played an important role in winning the war and saved countless American lives in the process.”
Warner continued, “For many years, the heroic contributions of the OSS – which included some of the most daring covert operations of World War II — remained shrouded in secrecy, their impact largely unknown to the American public. Today, Congress is able to publicly recognize the members of the OSS for their remarkable heroism and many sacrifices. As the predecessor to the modern CIA, other elements of the U.S. intelligence community, and U.S. special operations forces, the OSS once boasted nearly 13,000 members, but more than 70 years after they won the war, fewer than 100 are still with us. I know how much it means to the veterans of the OSS, as well as their families, that this legislation is finally making its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Today, Congress has ensured that their courage of spirit and their love of country will long live on in our nation’s memory.”
The OSS was created in 1942 under the leadership of General William J. Donovan to better coordinate and oversee American intelligence operations. At its peak, 13,000 members served in the OSS including notable names such as Julia Child, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Ford, and James Donovan, who was depicted in the 2015 movie, Bridge of Spies. OSS veterans and their family members were present in the House gallery when the legislation was approved.