- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2016

The innovative clandestine warriors of the World War II era have finally earned their well-deserved recognition after a wait which spanned seven decades.

The Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act was passed Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives, a final chapter in the push to honor members of the “OSS” — the forerunner to both the CIA and the U.S. special operations forces. The Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan legislation earlier this year.

“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 contributions largely unknown to the American public,” said Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, who cosponsored the Senate bill with Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican. “Today, Congress is able to publicly recognize the members of the OSS for their remarkable heroism and many sacrifices.

“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,” Mr. Warner added. “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.”

The roster of OSS personnel includes distinguished and famous names such as Hollywood actors Marlene Dietrich and Sterling Hayden; Fred Mayer, the real “inglorious bastard” who was nominated for the Medal of Honor; celebrity chef Julia Child, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche, film director John Ford, Pulitzer Prize recipient Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and four CIA directors — William Casey, William Colby, Allen Dulles and Richard Helms.

The OSS itself was shepherded into action in 1942 by Army Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan. The force grappled with “silent, unending work of keeping America safe” against Nazis and other American enemies and became known for their bold, often creative methods of warfare.

“The Office of Strategic Services was filled with patriots who honorably served their country while making an enormous contribution to the defeat of the Axis powers,” noted Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “It’s gratifying to see Congress recognize their heroism.”

More on the OSS can be found through an official CIA history and the nonprofit OSS Society, which still counts original OSS officers in its membership.

“We are very grateful to the Majority Leader, the bills’ sponsors in the House and Senate, and the 393 cosponsors from both bodies for recognizing their bravery with a Congressional Gold Medal,” said Charles Pinck, president of the organization and son of Dan Pinck, an original OSS officer. “We look forward to the presentation of this medal next year to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the OSS’ founding.”

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