First Special Service Force Gold Medal Designs

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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.

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Boz

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

jonny oneal

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

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

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

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

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

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… Read more »

M. Stonehouse

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.

d drrowne

I say that a design should be decided soon. I attended the reunion in Helena Mt. and there were only 14 FSSF members that were able to attend. This should be done before there is no one left . Why should they have to wait? My father was one of the original members, unfortunately he is one that will not see this happen.

Evil Dave of Canada

Do you see the coin design that the Royal Canadian Mint put out both in 99.99% silver proof & in 99.99% silver bullion? They also made the coin in 99.99% gold. The US Mint only produces 99.9% silver. Canada has been minting 99.99% silver coins since 1988 with the introduction of the Silver Maple Leaf. The Devil’s Brigade coins were minted in silver from 2013 to 2015. I have all of them in my silver coin collection.