WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate today presented a Congressional Gold Medal to members of the First Special Service Force in honor of their extraordinary gallantry during World War II. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made the following remarks prior to the presentation of the medal:
“Listening to these stories, one thing that strikes you is that this all happened so fast. The barracks at Fort Harrison were essentially built overnight. Trainees fell off as quickly as they came, all at the mercy of Muscle Mountain. Some 200 weddings took place, and then just like that, they were off.
“All told, the Force was in combat for less than a year and a half before being disbanded. Even Eisenhower himself couldn’t explain to you how they did what they did.
“But widen the lens, and you’ll see there’s even more to marvel over. Consider how growing up, all these men really knew was depression and then war. So when they came home, and there was a future to look forward to, they made sure to pass on the glory, but not the stories or the struggle. These were remarkable acts of humility, but to them, it’s just what you did to protect the ones you love.
“For a time, that was that. But now, thanks to all those brides and their children, we know who was who and what was what.
“We’re here because, from all the darkness, has come this outpouring of grace. From a small unit has come a grateful generation – a force in its own right. And from a brief window in history has come a lasting commitment to do one thing this Force could not…
“For these men saved the free world, and now we are free to savor their triumph and share their story for years to come. In that spirit, the United States Mint – at the direction of the Congress and the President of the United States – has struck a Gold Medal in honor of the First Special Service Force. And we present it here, on this day and in our Capitol, on behalf of a grateful nation.”