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Properly designated as the 1st Special Service Force, the Devil's Brigade was a joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana in the United States. Many modern American and Canadian Special Forces units trace their heritage to this unit. For the movie of the same name, see The Devil's Brigade.
Some years ago, Hollywood made a movie, "The Devilís Brigade," about a U.S.-Canadian commando force during World War II. Now an effort is underway in Congress to award the Congressional Gold Medal to that elite strike force.
Legislation to award the nation's highest civilian honor to the First Special Service Force has been introduced in the House and Senate by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
The Canadian Embassy in Washington plans to call attention to the effort next week by screening the documentary "Daring to Die: The Story of the Black Devils" with at least five members of the dwindling force in attendance, along with government and military officials from both countries.
The force participated in invasions in the Aleutian Islands, at Anzio Beach in Italy, and in southern France. They led the Allied liberation of Rome and wiped out Axis positions on scores of French and Italian mountains.
They specialized in high alpine combat, covert amphibious landings, airborne operations and other unconventional operations, with more reinforcements being added after the force suffered significant casualties in battle. Ultimately, the force suffered 2,314 casualties; however, it also captured over 30,000 prisoners.
Congressional Gold Medal recipients include the Tuskegee Airmen; the Navajo Code Talkers; the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs; and Japanese American members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service. Civilian recipients include Rosa Parks and Walt Disney.