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OSS veterans awarded Congressional Gold Medal

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that the veterans of the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services had been awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for their service to the country.

Sen. Shelby said in a statement, “I’m pleased to report that a bill was signed into law yesterday that will honor veterans of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, with a Congressional Gold Medal. I’m a proud cosponsor of this legislation to recognize the heroic contributions of the OSS’ members during World War II.”

Sen. Shelby continued, “I’m particularly excited to learn that Orrin Brown, Jr. from Opelika will be one of the recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal. He is the last living member of the original 801st/492nd Bombardment Group, commonly known as the ‘Carpetbaggers.’ Orrin completed 30 missions safely before returning to the US in June of 1944. Following active duty, he remained in the reserves for 20 years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.”

Shelby concluded, “Please join me in thanking this great Alabamian and all of the veterans of the OSS who are so deserving of this honor.”

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) introduced the Congressional Golf Medal Act, S. 2234, in the Senate.

Sen. Blunt said, “We would not be the nation we are today if not for the profound acts of courage and selflessness of our fallen heroes. We, as Americans, owe it to these men and women to know their names, to honor their deeds, and to preserve their memories. The Gold Star Families Voices Act makes an invaluable project even better by giving the family members of our missing and fallen service members the opportunity to share their stories and ensure they become a part of our nation’s historical record. I thank American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. and Representative Chris Smith for championing this bill, and my Senate colleagues for getting it to the president’s desk.”

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The bill was introduced into the House and authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) as H.R. 4511. It unanimously passed the House in September.

Rep. Smith said, “Today’s vote honors the men and women who gave ‘the last full measure of devotion’ in the service of our Nation by allowing their family members to tell their stories, so that all Americans can hear, appreciate, remember, and honor these patriots. I greatly appreciate the hard work of my good friend and colleague, Chairman Roy Blunt, in securing Senate passage today to ensure we record and remember the lives and sacrifices of all who have served and provide the very deserving family members with the opportunity to create a lasting record of their fallen loved ones.”

This bill requires the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate to arrange for the presentation of a Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the Office of Strategic Services in recognition of their service and contributions during World War II. After the medal is awarded, it must be given to the Smithsonian Institution.

S 2234 was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

The OSS was created on June 14, 1942. Prior to that, intelligence gathering was handled by the State Department, Treasury Department, Navy, and Army separately. The OSS answered directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The agency was dissolved and its functions taken over by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on September 20, 1945.

 

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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