Tester, Baucus push to honor 'Devil's Brigade' picks up steam
Senators' Congressional Gold Medal bill set to clear major hurdle this week, as 4th Big Sky Honor Flight visits D.C.
(Washington, DC) – Montana U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are looking forward to a major victory this week in their efforts to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the nation’s first ever Special Operations Force, known as the ‘Devil’s Brigade.’ Tester and Baucus’s bill is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives tomorrow, and has more momentum than ever in the Senate, where 30 Senators support it.
The news of this week’s vote comes as Tester and Baucus and Tester greeted more than 80 Montana WWII veterans in Washington for the 4th Big Sky Honor Flight. Baucus and his wife Melodee joined the Montana veterans at the WWII Memorial this morning. Tester and his wife Sharla joined the veterans at their banquet last night.
“The Devil’s Brigade represented the very best of our Greatest Generation that defeated tyranny around the world,” Tester said. “The Congressional Gold Medal is a small token of this nation’s gratitude, but an ever-lasting reminder of the sacrifices these men made for all of us.”
“Without these brave volunteers, there would be no Special Forces today. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of Congress’ highest honor, and I’ve made it my personal mission to ensure the Devil’s Brigade receives the Congressional Gold Medal before my term is through,” Baucus said.
- The Devil’s Brigade was formed during WWII and based at Ft. Harrison in Helena, Montana. The group paved the way for the nation’s modern elite Special Forces, such as the highly trained units that brought down Osama bin Laden.
- Tester and Baucus have been working to award the unit with the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest honor Congress can bestow – since 2011 (Read More).
- Congressional Gold Medal Bills need 67 Senators to sign on before they can be voted on by the full Senate.
- Last year, Tester and Baucus successfully passed a Senate Resolution honoring the Devil’s Brigade as part of their campaign to raise awareness for the Gold Medal (Read More).
- Baucus is committed to passing the Gold Medal before his final term ends in 2014.
Additional Background on the Devil’s Brigade:
Based out of Fort Harrison in Helena, the Force was a top-secret combat unit comprising 1,800 volunteers from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, including 84 Montanans.
Their training was the first of its kind and specialized in high alpine combat, covert amphibious landings, parachuting, and other non-conventional tactics.
When the war ended, the Force had suffered 2,314 casualties, equating to an astounding 134 percent of its original combat strength. It had captured more than 30,000 prisoners, won five U.S. campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors. The Force never failed a mission.
The unit was instrumental in the liberation of Rome, surprising and defeating massive German artillery units located on treacherous mountain peaks and rocky islands, and in freeing communities in southern France and Italy despite bitter resistance and extreme conditions. The Force also engaged in large-scale raids against the infamous German Hermann Goering First Panzer Paratroop Division. The unit’s unique training assured their unparalleled accomplishments.