Years before the CIA was formed, a decorated U.S. general known as “Wild Bill” led a clandestine group working to turn the tide of World War II.
Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan, a Medal of Honor recipient during World War I, organized the Office of Strategic Services in 1942, at the outset of the war. The unit ran intelligence networks and resistance operations behind enemy lines in Europe and Asia.
Now, more than 70 years after their crucial work for the Allies, the OSS is being honored with the OSS Congressional Gold Medal Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama this month.
OSS veterans and members of the Virginia-based OSS Society had fought for years to get the special recognition for the spy agency.
“I never thought it would get the recognition that was long overdue,” veteran Marvin Edwards, 95, told the Jacksonville Daily Record.
The OSS, which consisted of members from all military branches, had nearly 13,000 members during its years in operation.
Fewer than 100 remain, according to a news release from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who co-sponsored the Senate bill with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
“Congress has ensured that their courage of spirit and their love of country will long live on in our nation's memory,” Kirk said in a statement.
The awards are set to be presented to survivors during a ceremony in 2017 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the OSS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.