Congressional Gold Medal Honors the Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), formed on June 13, 1942, served as a precursor to today’s intelligence community. Created to gather intelligence and wage unconventional warfare in enemy territory, the OSS was a critical component to the Allied victory during World War II.
On March 21, 2018, pursuant to S. 2234, the U.S. Congress awarded the OSS the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony held in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
“For the men and women of the OSS—those glorious amateurs who struck a decisive blow to fascism—the United States Mint has struck a gold medal, which we present now on behalf of a very grateful nation,” said Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan.
Due to the clandestine nature of their work, many veterans of the OSS were never recognized, and many of their contributions to the war efforts during World War II remain unknown to the public. Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur, whose uncle Anthony Rogowski served in the OSS, inquired with the National Defense Personnel Center about her uncle’s service, only to be told that records of her uncle are not in the center’s files.
“Today’s long overdue recognition comes 71 years after their gut-wrenching sacrifices for us. Here, in liberty’s home, America finally honors these fine patriots,” said Representative Kaptur.
Ohio Representative Robert Latta highlighted OSS veteran Arthur Jibilian. Jibilian, a naval radio operator, volunteered with the OSS and participated in the largest successful rescue mission of 513 downed airmen behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia.
“Under the leadership of OSS founder General William J. ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, the OSS conducted acts of great bravery and accomplished feats that many would have deemed impossible,” said Representative Latta.
Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said she took great pride in the fact that one-third of members of the OSS were women. Minority Leader Pelosi shared the story of Virginia Hall, one of the first civilian women to earn the Distinguished Service Cross.
“Virginia, a saboteur and spy, helped train three battalions of French Resistance forces, mapped drop zones, arranged safe houses, and assisted prisoners of war in central France—all with a prosthetic leg,” said Minority Leader Pelosi.
The OSS served as a precursor to today’s intelligence community. Intelligence organizations including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Army Special Forces, and the Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations Command can trace their roots back to the OSS.
“Looking back, President Roosevelt’s charging of General Donovan to create an organization capable of gathering intelligence and waging unconventional warfare in enemy held territory was a necessity for good strategic planning,” said former OSS officer William Clark. “It’s no surprise then that when the National Security Act of 1947 was enacted, it provided for the collection of intelligence by a centralized agency—the Central Intelligence Agency.”
The House Historian has a full list of past recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal. Congress has awarded the gold medals since the American Revolution. The medals honor an individual, institution, or an event. Awarding a Congressional Gold Medal requires the support of two-thirds of Members of the House and 67 Senators.