At a ceremony held February 3, 2015 in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, members of the First Special Service Force were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The medal recognizes the dedicated service of the elite joint American-Canadian commando unit during World War II.
Activated in July 1942, the Force’s mission was to target military and industrial installations that supported the German war effort. Deployed to Italy in October 1943, the highly trained group engaged in combat in high altitudes, rugged terrain, and severe weather. The Force was instrumental in repelling the advance of Nazi Germany and liberating numerous communities in France and Italy. During 251 days of combat, the group suffered 2,314 casualties, or 134 percent of its authorized strength, captured thousands of prisoners, earned five United States campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors, and never failed a mission.
The award of the Congressional Gold Medal was authorized under Public Law 113-16, enacted on July 12, 2013.
The obverse design of the medal highlights the mountaineering, silent landings, and waterway training abilities of the First Special Service Force. The design also incorporates the group’s spearhead patch, representing the unique partnership between the United States and Canada. An inscription reads “FIRST SPECIAL SERVICE FORCE”. The obverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Joseph Menna.
The reverse features the First Special Service Force’s insignia, with crossed arrows at the bottom and a banner in the eagle’s beak that reads “USA” and “CANADA”. The inscriptions include their five campaigns, “ACT OF CONGRESS,” and “2013”. The reverse was designed by Richard Masters and engraved by Don Everhart.
The United States Mint has made available for sale to the public bronze duplicate versions of the medal. A 3-inch medal is priced at $39.95 each and a 1.5 inch medal is priced at $6.95. These medals can be found at http://catalog.usmint.gov/