Yardley, PA— Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) Friday presented a Congressional Gold Medal to U.S Army Veteran Sergeant Tom Rossi, 98, for his service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the CIA and Special Forces during World War II.
On March 21, 2018, the US Congress bestowed its highest civilian honor upon the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The men and women who comprised America’s first spy agency were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, in recognition of their service and major contributions during World War II. These women and men - who performed some of the bravest acts of the war – had never before been collectively recognized for their heroic and pioneering service.
Founded by General William J. Donovan, a medal of honor recipient, the OSS “organized, trained, supplied, and fought” in the war throughout Europe and Asia and played a decisive role in America’s victory over axis forces. In addition to the civilian population, each military branch contributed personnel to OSS, whose missions resulted in some of the bravest acts of the war and forever changed the course of history.
At its peak in late 1944, OSS employed almost 13,000 individuals, a third of who were women. Today fewer than 100 members of this great organization are still alive.
Read the story about Sergeant Gaetano Tom Rossi, a former member of the 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, Unit A, OSS Italian Operation Groups. HERE.
Rep. Fitzpatrick Full Remarks, as prepared:
Since America’s earliest days, Congress has the privilege of recognizing extraordinary Americans for extraordinary deeds. Today, we are bestowing one of our highest public honors on Mr. Tom Rossi.
Pursuant to Senate Resolution 2234, the Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to the men and women of the Office of Strategic Services for their indispensable contributions to victory in World War II. The OSS was America’s first effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence and provided the basis for the modern day American intelligence and special operations communities.
The men and women of the OSS have never been collective recognized until this year. Today, we are extremely fortunate to have a living member of the OSS in Bucks County. As we begin our ceremony, please join me in welcoming these American Heroes.
Now it is time for the presentation of the Medal. At the time these men and women of the OSS answered the call of duty, the stakes for our nation and for democracy throughout the world could not have been higher. The OSS organized, trained, supplied, and fought with resistance organizations throughout Europe and Asia that played a vital role in America’s victory in World War II. General Eisenhower credited the OSS’s covert contributions in France to the equivalent of an extra military division.
We are honored to have with US Sergeant Gaetano “Tom” Rossi with us today. Sergeant Rossi was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the same time, General Donovan began assembling small units known as Operation Groups –OGs. Similar to today’s Special Forces, the OGs operated deep in enemy territory. They disrupted communications and supply lines, organized resistance, and rescued Allied prisoners of war.
In 1943, Sergeant Rossi, a son of Italian Immigrants, was selected for the Allied landings of Italy. His impressive physical capability, military intellect, and willingness to perform hazardous operations overseas made him a top tier candidate. Sergeant Rossie joined 17 officers and 127 enlisted men. These Italian OGs began calling themselves “Donovan’s Devils.”
“Donovan’s Devils” coordinated the supply, training, and equipment of thousands of Italians who were determined to beat back the Germans. When the war ended, the OGs were a presence on the ground to ensure peace among the population and to prevent a civil war from erupting after the German surrender.
These men and women of the OSS passed on a deep sense of duty and daring to the intelligence professionals that would follow them.
They exemplify the true spirit of an American Patriot—a citizen willing to risk everything to keep his country safe. Their bravery and devotion to our nation demonstrates that the United States can and will rise to defeat the foes of freedom.
For the men and women of the OSS, the patriots who struck a decisive blow to fascism, the United States Mint has struck a medal, which we now present to Sergeant Gaetano “Tom” Rossi on behalf of a grateful nation.”