Senators Update Growing List of Co-Sponsors, Highlight Heroes

(U.S. Senate) – Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today that 15 Senators and 24 Representatives have signed on to their bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the First Special Service Force. The Baucus-Tester bill has also been endorsed by John F. Mulholland, Jr., the Commander of the U.S. Army’s Special Operations. Read more ONLINE HERE.

“The First Special Service Force was created right here in Montana and paved the way for the highly elite special operations forces that continue to defend our freedom around the globe. I’m pleased to see the momentum gathering behind recognizing the heroes of the First Special Service Force. Now is the time make sure these trailblazers get the thanks they deserve,” said Baucus.

"From the beginning, our Special Forces have taken on this country's toughest missions to protect our families and freedoms," Tester said. "These heroes got their start in Montana and they have earned their place in history. This honor is a small, but important way to express our gratitude."

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow. The First Special Service Force was created during WWII and based at Ft. Harrison in Helena. This group helped to pave the way for the creation of the nation's elite Special Forces, much like the highly trained units that killed Osama bin Laden.

Honoring The First Special Service Force

Based out of Fort Harrison in Helena, the Force was a top-secret combat unit comprised of 1,800 volunteers from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Their training was the first of its kind. They specialized in high alpine combat, covert amphibious landings, parachuting, and other unconventional methods. More reinforcements were added after the Force suffered significant casualties in battle.

Ultimately, the Force suffered 2,314 casualties, equating to an astounding 134% of its combat strength. It captured over 30,000 prisoners, won five U.S. campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors. It never failed a mission.

  • Today, only 230 of these brave soldiers are still living in the U.S. and Canada.
  • There are currently three First Special Service Force veterans still living in Montana and 84 Montanans volunteered for the Force.

The unit was instrumental behind the liberation of Rome, surprising and defeating massive German artillery units located on treacherous mountain peaks and rocky islands, freeing communities in southern France and Italy despite bitter resistance and in extreme conditions, and engaged in large-scale raids against the infamous German Hermann Goering Division. The unit's unique training assured their unparalleled accomplishments.