WASHINGTON — At a ceremony at Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building, Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) spoke about the 13,000 members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and their heroic efforts during World War II.
The OSS members were being honored with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian distinction awarded in the United States. A single gold medal has been struck to collectively honor the members of the OSS.
Congressman Latta was the sponsor of the legislation to honor OSS veterans with a Congressional Gold Medal, which was signed into law in December, 2016.
“We are here to honor and recognize these brave veterans who Tom Brokaw proclaimed as members of the Greatest Generation, for their sacrifice, superior service, and major contributions during World War II,” Latta said. “As you all know, the Office of Strategic Services was America's first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence during World War II and provided the basis for the modern-day American intelligence and special operations communities. Under the leadership of OSS founder, General William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan, the OSS conducted acts of great bravery and accomplished feats of which many would have deemed impossible during the war, and their efforts were another factor to the Allied victory in World War II.”
Latta concluded by saying: “They truly did attempt the impossible and dare the unknown. Congress and our nation are proud of you, and we are grateful for your dedicated service. This Congressional Gold Medal is one way we can extend our gratitude.”
Latta highlighted the efforts of Fremont native Arthur Jibilian, who was a member of the OSS.
Jibilian, who died March 21, 2010, was instrumental in Operation Halyard, where he participated in an airlift of more than 500 U.S. and Allied personnel who were forced down behind enemy lines in Serbia during World War II. The operation is depicted on the Congressional Gold Medal that was minted.
The OSS was created by General William J. Donovan in 1942 to better coordinate and oversee American intelligence options, and at its peak included about 13,000 members from every branch of the military, along with civilians.
It served as a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency and aided Allied forces by establishing intelligence networks, training resistance operations throughout Europe and Asia, and carrying out “mercy missions” at the end of World War II.