First Special Service Force Gold Medal Designs

by Darrin Lee Unser on March 28, 2014 · 8 comments

A Congressional Gold Medal is to be awarded to the First Special Service Force, a joint American-Canadian volunteer unit, in recognition of their World War II service. Before this happens, however, designs for the medal must be selected so that the United States Mint can produce it.

Candidate Designs for the First Special Service Force Gold Medal

Candidate Designs for the First Special Service Force Gold Medal (Larger images below)

As part of the standard process for coins and medals, the United States Mint has artists create multiple designs which are then reviewed and possibly tweaked before the final selections. Eighteen different design candidates were recently revealed by the U.S. Mint for the obverse (heads side) of the First Special Service Force Gold Medal with twenty-one more unveiled for its reverse.

These designs feature varying imagery representative of individuals who served in the ‘Force,’ the multiple locations of battles they participated in and emblems associated with the unit.

Gold Medal Designs

More information about the First Special Service Force and the Congressional Gold Medal are below, but first, here are line art images of the design candidates.

Obverse First Special Service Force Gold Medal Designs

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_01

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_01

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_02

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_02

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_03

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_03

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_04

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_04

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_05

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_05

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_06

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_06

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_07

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_07

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_08

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_08

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_09

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_09

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_10

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_10

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_11

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_11

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_12

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_12

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_13

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_13

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_14

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_14

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_15

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_15

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_16

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_16

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_17

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_17

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_18

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_O_18

Reverse First Special Service Force Gold Medal Designs

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_01

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_01

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_02

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_02

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_03

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_03

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_04

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_04

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_05

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_05

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_06

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_06

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_07

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_07

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_08

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_08

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_09

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_09

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_10

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_10

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_11

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_11

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_12

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_12

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_13

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_13

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_14

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_14

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_15

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_15

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_16

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_16

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_17

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_17

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_18

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_18

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_19

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_19

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_20

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_20

First Special Service Force Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_21

Design Candidate FSSF_CGM_R_21

Background on First Special Service Force and Congressional Gold Medal

Congress directed the gold medal be awarded to the First Special Service Force "in recognition of its superior service during World War II." Of note, two-thirds of the membership of both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate must co-sponsor legislation authorizing a Congressional Gold Medal according to committee rules. The authorizing act for the First Special Service Force Gold Medal became Public Law 113-16 on July 12, 2013 when it was signed by President Obama.

The ‘Force’ is also sometimes called the "Devil’s Brigade" or the "Black Devils." These nicknames were earned in combat based on its fierce style of fighting in blackened faces.

"Properly designated as the 1st Special Service Force, the Devil’s Brigade was a joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana in the United States," describes a website (www.firstspecialserviceforce.net) dedicated to the force. "Many modern American and Canadian Special Forces units trace their heritage to this unit."

In its short two and a half year history, the unit and support staff of just 2,300 would create an awe-inspiring legacy with thousands of enemy casualties attributed to it and thousands more captured. Their record did not come without a price, however, as it suffered a casualty rate listed at 134 percent of its authorized strength.

The medal honoring them is to be given to the First Special Service Force Association in Helena, Montana. It may also be displayed on temporary loan at other appropriate locations associated with the First Special Service Force.

Congress also authorized the United States Mint to produce and sell bronze medal replicas of the Congressional medal.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Boz March 28, 2014 at 9:26 am

I’d say make a series out of it and use all of them.

jonny oneal March 28, 2014 at 9:41 am

drop the ¨äct of congress 2013¨because who wants to sully the memory of brave combatants with the failure to act of the cowardly 2,013 congress_

jim March 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Let’s see, out of 2,300 people 134% or 3,082 were killed. I guess they deserve a medal for those kind of numbers.

Berneck March 29, 2014 at 5:48 am

Is it just me, or are most of these designs terrible? I feel these artists are constantly overdoing these designs. Just because we have the ability to make more intricate coinage doesn’t mean we should.

That being said, I’m drawn more to the designs with the eagles. In particular I like the R_06 design, but any of the eagles would have me interested. I think this design might be cool stamped incuse like the 1/4 eagles. Just a thought….

And I agree, get that “Act of Congress” garbage out of there. Terrible.

Mike Irwin March 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

There is obviously a uniform intolerance to placing an act of congress on this medal, although all coinage and medal is directed through our congress. To me, it is an attempt by the various artist hear to appeal to the selection committee, a political act in itself. This medal, foremost is not and should not be a focus of an act of congress, but “An Act of Bravery”.

Doug March 29, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Most are a “bit much”. Designs R-12, R-17, R-18 & O-17 are my favorites.
Would really like to emphasize that Canada AND United States participated equally in this joint force – which is quite unique. Having the spearhead combined with a maple leaf & star seem basic. Not to offend, but I really don’t care for some designs that have the eagle dominating the image. Act of Congress is fine – they awarded the medal after all.

Berneck March 30, 2014 at 6:14 am

Well said, Mike. I recently said in another forum, these artists are trying to please everyone. In doing so, they don’t please anyone.

These artists need to be bold and think outside of the box, yet keep the designs simple and elegant. It’s a coin, not a 3′x 5′ movie poster. I don’t pretend that I have that talent, but I know garbage when I see it. Many of the coin designs I see these day feels nothing more than a bunch of clipart thrown together. Just my opinion, but I think the relatively low sales and weak aftermarkets for these coins speaks for itself…

I believe those very qualities I mentioned were used perfectly in the Baseball HOF coins. Simple and elegant. I think the Kennedy gold will be the same.

M. Stonehouse April 15, 2014 at 10:47 am

The faces of the men pictured need more shading, they need to look meaner, not gentlemanly. The knife is not realistic, it need to be more thin and shaded to give it a knife look. The flags should be waving and strong ! I like the mountain ( LaDefensa) and the other aspects of their training because it shows their versatility. They fought and took every goal and held it. Lets show their determination, and fortitude and victory; activate these coins so they depict the Force in all it’s glory.

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