At a ceremony held yesterday, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded collectively to the members of the First Special Service Force in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II. The award of the medal was authorized under Public Law 113-16.
The First Special Service Force was an elite joint American-Canadian commando unit which fought battles during World War II at high altitudes, in rugged terrain, and severe weather. The Force was instrumental in repelling the advance of Nazi Germany and liberating numerous communities in France and Italy. During 251 days of combat, the group suffered 2,314 casualties, or 134 percent of its authorized strength, captured thousands of prisoners, earned five United States campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors, and never failed a mission.
Last year, the US Mint had provided 18 different obverse and 21 different reverse design candidates for the medal to the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Images of all of the candidates and the recommendations offered by each group can be found here and here. The final designs were selected by the Secretary of the Treasury and appear below.
The obverse design highlights the mountaineering, silent landings, and waterway training abilities of the First Special Service Force. The group’s spearhead patch representing the unique partnership between the United States and Canada also appears. The inscription reads “First Special Service Force”. The obverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Joseph Menna.
The reverse features the First Special Service Force’s insignia with crossed arrows at the bottom of the design, and a banner in the eagle’s beak that reads “USA” and “CANADA”. The inscriptions include the names of their five campaigns, “Act of Congress” and “2013”. The reverse was designed by Richard Masters and engraved by Don Everhart.
As in the past, the United States Mint has made bronze duplicate versions of the Congressional Gold Medal available for sale. A 3-inch version of the medal is available priced at $39.95 and a 1.5-inch version of the medal is available priced at $6.95.