US House Passes Measure Honoring “Devil’s Brigade”

A much-deserved tribute just days before Memorial Day for members of the First Special Service Force which started at Fort Harrison, Montana. The United States House of Representatives, in a vote of 415-0, unanimously endorsed a measure that would honor the Devil’s Brigade.  But, with only 30 Senators sponsoring or co-sponsoring the measure in the US Senate, the bill still awaits Senate action.  

The Great Falls Tribune’s Malia Rulon Herman has this:  

“The bravery and valor of the Army special forces — more commonly known as the Green Berets — are well known to most Americans. But many don’t realize that this unit was born out of the First Special Service Force and the courageous soldiers who fought for it during World War II,” Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas told his colleagues on the House floor in introducing the bill for consideration.

The bill, which passed the House on a unanimous 415-0 vote, would provide for two gold medals to be awarded on behalf of the men who served. One would go to the Smithsonian Institution to be displayed; the other would go to the First Special Services Force Association, based in Helena.

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana has made it his mission to get the bill passed before he retires from Congress next year.

Mike Brown with The Western Word blog added his reaction:

Congress is working toward legislation that would grant the Congressional Gold Medal for the unit. The U.S. House passed the bill (H.R. 324) yesterday by a 415-0 vote, which included Montana’s Representative, Steve Daines.

Getting 415 votes in the U.S. House on any bill is pretty historical these days.

Full statement from the office of Congressman Steve Daines:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Daines today applauded the House passage of a bill granting the Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Service Force, which was founded in Fort Harrison, Montana, in recognition of its superior service during World War II.

Daines co-sponsored H.R. 324, which passed the House today by a vote of 415 – 0.

“Montana has a strong legacy of military service, which is truly exemplified by the First Special Service Force and its important place in our state’s history,” Daines stated. “I am proud that the First Special Service Force, which got its start at Fort Harrison in Montana, is being recognized for the lasting impact that it has had on our military and our nation.”

The First Special Service Force, also known as the “Devil’s Brigade,” was an elite American-Canadian joint-operations unit during WWII.  It was also the first modern special operations force and was first activated in Montana in 1942.  The First Special Service Force went on to serve with distinction in combat in Alaska, Italy and France, often succeeding where other units had failed, before being disbanded in December 1944.

By awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Service Force, H.R. 324 recognizes not only the sacrifice and excellence displayed by the unit, but also the lasting effect the unit has had on the military. H.R. 324 directs that one medal to be given to the Smithsonian Institution and the other to the First Special Service Force Association in Helena, Montana.

The Congressional Gold Medal, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is America’s highest civilian honor.  First awarded by Congress in 1776 to George Washington, the Congressional Gold Medal has been presented to notable figures that have left lasting marks on American culture and history, including military leaders, musicians, scientists, explorers, and many others.

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