Those who have served in the intelligence field or in special operations owe the veterans of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) much admiration and respect. Founded by General William Donovan, the OSS became the predecessor for the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) during the Second World War.

CIA records show that almost 13,000 men and women were employed during the peak of its operations in 1941. Their covert and subversive actions secretly aided in winning the war. Donovan’s “glorious amateurs” included many athletes, scientists, Ivy League scholars, and other military personnel and civilians who were recruited for the OSS due to their unique professions, knowledge, skills, and special access to key individuals.

According to the OSS Society, some of the most famous veterans of the OSS include the “French chef” Julia Child; actor Sterling Hayden, who served in the OSS Maritime Unit, the predecessor to the Navy SEALs; Col. Wiliam Eddy, who has been described as “Lawrence of America”; Ralph Bunche, the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg; Pulitzer Prize recipient Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; Col. Peter Ortiz, a two-time Navy Cross recipient; Virginia Hall, the only American civilian women to receive the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II; James Donovan, who was portrayed by Tom Hanks in “Bridge of Spies” and served as the OSS general counsel; and four directors of the CIA: William Casey, William Colby, Allen Dulles, and Richard Helms.

The OSS Society was created in 1947 by General Donovan to carry on the legacy and memories of the OSS. Charles Pinck, the OSS Society president, stated, “As we approach the 75th anniversary of the founding of the OSS in 2017, and with the number of living OSS veterans rapidly dwindling, I hope Congress will pass the OSS Congressional Gold Medal Act this year to honor the OSS, General Donovan, and his ‘glorious amateurs.'” 

The OSS Society helped introduce the bill with the hopes of awarding the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II. As of right now, the OSS Society has 53 congressional co-sponsors, indicating a strong initial bipartisan support for the bill.

General Donovan said the men and women who served in the OSS performed “some of the bravest acts of the war.” By going onto the the OSS Society website and sending a letter to your congressman, you can help recognize and honor the veterans of the OSS for their heroic and pioneering service during World War II.

Image courtesy of the OSS Society