Revised designs for a congressional gold medal honoring the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) went under review this week and two of them became the clear winners.
The medal along with bronze duplicates will honor members of the OSS for their service and contributions during World War II. The OSS was America’s first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence, preceding the CIA, the U.S. Special Operations Command and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
Seventeen designs — 9 obverses and 8 reverses — were reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) on Sept. 19 and by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) on Sept. 20 following reviews in June when revisions were sought. In their latest appraisals of the revised designs, both bodies nodded in agreement to the selections made by the OSS Society.
The recommended design for the medal’s obverse (OSS-O-1) features the inscription "OSS" revealing three figures — a woman, a paratrooper, and a man in a suit. Each is rendered as a shape without details, hinting at the way OSS agents sought to operate anonymously or "in the shadows." The design also shows the dates "1942-1945" for the years in which the OSS operated.
Recommended for the reverse is a design (OSS-R-03) showcasing the OSS Spearhead inscribed with code words related to important OSS missions and agents.
The Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal is authorized under Public Law 114-269, which also permits duplicates in bronze that the United States Mint can offer to the public.
Other Obverse Designs
Images and U.S. Mint descriptions of the other considered obverse designs follow.
OSS-O-02 depicts an OSS frogman, a paratrooper coming in for a landing, and silhouettes of a man and woman in 1940s attire. The man and woman are rendered in silhouette to represent the OSS agents who operated anonymously, or "in the shadows." The letters OSS are inscribed in the center of the design.
OSS-O-03, OSS-O-04, and OSS-O-05 feature elements important to the OSS: two shadowed figures to evoke the clandestine missions of those behind enemy lines, the globe to represent the OSS’s worldwide missions, and a frogman. Design 04 also features the OSS Spearhead.
OSS-O-06 and OSS-O-06A feature OSS operatives, representing the wide variety of roles played by the OSS during WWII.
Design 06 was the CFA’s recommended design from the June meeting; design 06A is a variation that attempts to correct some of the concerns regarding the design.
OSS-O-07 and OSS-O-08 feature elements important to the OSS: two shadowed figures to evoke the clandestine missions of those behind enemy lines, the globe to represent the OSS’s worldwide missions, a compass, and the OSS spearhead. Design 08 also features a paratrooper.
Design 08 is a slightly modified version of the CCAC’s recommended design from the June meeting. The compass was slightly altered for accuracy.
Other Reverse Designs
Images and U.S. Mint descriptions of the other considered reverse designs follow.
OSS-R-01 and OSS-R-02 feature a quote from Major General William J. Donovan: "Only by decisions of national policy based upon accurate information can we have the chance of a peace that will endure." This quote is set against the backdrop of a globe and also features the OSS Spearhead.
Design 01 was the CFA’s recommended design from the June meeting.
OSS-R-04, OSS-R-05, OSS-R-06, OSS-R-07, and OSS-R-08 feature a quote from Major General William J. Donovan: "Only by decisions of national policy based upon accurate information can we have the chance of a peace that will endure." All five designs also depict the OSS Spearhead. Designs 04 and 05 also feature the inscription "Covert Missions During WWII." Design 07 also features OSS paratroopers and a frogman.
Design 07 is a variation of the CCAC’s preferred design from the June meeting with the addition of the frogman as requested.