The CIA and the US Army Special Forces’ heritage is linked directly from the World War II OSS (Office of Strategic Services). Many of the operators who pulled classified missions for the OSS later became intelligence professionals or the original Special Forces troops. One such operator was William Colby who commanded Jedburgh teams in France and later would join the CIA, rising through the ranks to become the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence).
Colby later during World War II would be tasked to head an Operational Team to go into Norway to blow a key bridge, the Grana, on the Nordland railway during “Operation Rype.” The Norwegian Special Operations Group which was part of the OSS was tasked with the mission with Colby as the commander. In Colby’s narrative released after the war, he said it was the only mission that the US Army ran in WWII that the men used both parachutes and skis.
Near the end of 1944, the Soviets had overrun Finland and the German survivors from that campaign, some 150,000 ski and mountain troops were streaming into Norway. Colby and the Norwegian SOG’s mission was to blow the bridge between Narvik and Trondheim carrying thousands of troops back into Germany each day. The roads were frozen and impassable and Royal Navy was blocking the sea routes. Stopping the Germans from getting down from Finland was left to the OSS.
Colby’s men were bundled into eight B-24 Liberator bombers, specially configured to drop parachutists behind enemy lines. The team numbered 35 men. They were an eclectic lot, their expertise each ranged into different life paths that all led them this mission.