Members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) received a Congressional Gold Medal a week ago Wednesday, March 21, during a ceremony held in the U.S. Capital. The OSS was America’s first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence, preceding the CIA.
The medal recognizes the members of the OSS for their exemplary service and major contributions during World War II.
"The CIA, the Navy SEALs, the Army Special Forces, and the Air Force Special Operations Command all have their precursors in the OSS," a U.S. Mint news release notes. "The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research also traces its creation to the OSS Research and Analysis Branch."
Established June 13, 1942 by a military order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt, the OSS was headed by General William J. Donovan, the "Father of American Intelligence and the only American to receive the nation’s four highest decorations, including the Medal of Honor.
Designed by Emily Damstra and engraved by Renata Gordon, the medal’s obverse (heads) features the inscription "OSS." Shown within the letters are three figures — a woman, a paratrooper, and a man in a suit, representing the broad range of work undertaken by the OSS.
Each is rendered as a shape without details, hinting at the way OSS agents sought to operate anonymously or "in the shadows." The diversity in the OSS is reflected by the shadowy figures, representing that OSS members were men and women, civilian and military. Below the design are the dates "1942 — 1945," representing the years OSS operated.
The reverse shows the OSS Spearhead inscribed with code words related to important OSS missions and agents. This design was sculpted by Joseph Menna and also designed by Damstra.
Bronze replicas of the medal are authorized by Congress under Public Law 114-269. They are now available from the United States Mint with a 3-inch version sold for $39.95 and a 1.5-inch version is available for $6.95. Orders are accepted online at catalog.usmint.gov/medals/military/ or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).