House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Leads House Effort to Award Congressional Gold Medal for WWII’s OSS Veterans

Maj. Gen. William (Wild Bill) Donovan, (retired) New York attorney who headed the U.S. Office of Strategic Service during World War II, is greeted by Maj. General C. L. Chennault on his arrival in Hong Kong, Jan. 3, 1950. Donovan came to Hong Kong to join Chennault in the latter’s …
AP Photo
Capitol Hill

House Republicans are waiving a rule that restricted Congressional Gold Medals to individuals.

This allows Congress to honor the gallantry and sacrifice of the World War II veterans of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency and other American special operations forces.

“We are very grateful to Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for agreeing to bring the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act to the floor for a vote,” said Charles Pinck, the president of the OSS Society and the son of Daniel Pinck, who served in the OSS behind Japanese lines in China.

“The OSS founder General William Donovan said OSS personnel, who were drawn from every branch of the military, performed ‘some of the bravest acts of the war.’ We are deeply indebted to the House leadership for recognizing their bravery by supporting passage of this bill.”

The OSS was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed “Wild Bill” Donovan, to invent the agency from scratch. At its height, the service had more than 14,000 personnel with operatives in the European and Pacific theaters, many of them behind enemy lines conducting espionage, sabotage  and propaganda efforts in support of the Allied victory.

The OSS Society is open of not only veterans of the service, but also members of agencies and units, who trace their lineage to the WWII spy agency. The society hosts an annual gala, when it presents its annual Donovan Award and it is also building a museum to spycraft and special military operations near Dulles International Airport. True to the society’s culture, the National Intelligence Museum, will have a bar serving martinis.

Alumni of the OSS include four future CIA directors, TV chef Julia Child, Hollywood director John Ford and attorney James Donovan, recent portrayed by Tom Hanks in the film “Bridge of Spies.”

Today, there are roughly 200 veterans of the service still living.

The bill was filed in the House by Rep. Robert Latta (R.-Ohio) one year ago, who said the recognition was overdue.

“The OSS played a central role in creating America’s intelligence and special operations communities as we know them today,” Latta said.

“From its incredible impact in helping secure victory for Allied forces in WWII, to its continued influence as the precursor to the CIA and U.S. Special Operations Command, the effect the OSS has had in shaping our national security structure is unparalleled,” he said.

The gold medal bill stalled in the House because of a reform in the House Rules enacted for this session of Congress by Republicans looking to reboot the awarding of the medals to individuals, as was the custom for much of the program’s history.

A Capitol Hill source close to House Republican leadership told Breitbart News that the leadership was concerned that the OSS veterans and their supporters were aware that the perception was the leadership somehow against the OSS and their legacy.

Leadership regularly brings bills directly to the House floor regularly under the suspension of the rules process, which allows bills to pass with 290 votes, but the source said although the Latta bill had 320 co-sponsors, there was no way leadership to bring to bill to the floor in violation of House Rules.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, McCarthy said he was looking for way to approve the gold medal before the end of the current session of Congress expires.

The companion bill in the Senate was sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D.-Va.), where it passed unanimously in February.

“The 13,000 members of the OSS played a critical role in the success of the Allied campaign in World War II, establishing intelligence networks deep behind enemy lines and bolstering resistance organization throughout Europe and Asia,” Blunt said. “Their actions saved thousands of lives, and it is only right that we honor their courage and accomplishments with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Warner said, “Those who served our country in OSS deserve to be honored for their heroic, pioneering contributions to our nation. This year is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and not many of these brave OSS veterans are still with us. We should recognize their service and their valor with the highest honor Congress can confer.”