Independent Record| Posted: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:00 am | The First Special Service Force, born at Fort Harrison in World War II, is one of the few units ever in which American and Canadian soldiers fought alongside one another in identical uniforms and under each others’ commanders.
Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., the Embassy of Canada will recognize the history of U.S.-Canada relations and honor members of the so-called “Devil’s Brigade,” which captured more than 30,000 prisoners, was instrumental in the liberation of Rome and helped set the stage for elite fighters such as the Green Berets and the Navy SEALs.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, sponsor of a bill along with U.S. Sen. Jon Tester to award the First Special Service Force a Congressional Gold Medal, will speak at the event, as will Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the United States. U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg is co-sponsor of a similar bill in the House honoring the unit.
First Special Force Association Executive Director Bill Woon of Canyon Ferry, whose father served in the First Special Service Force, will also be on hand, along with some of the approximately 230 surviving members of the unit, members of Congress and others.
The event will include a screening of the film “Daring to Die: The Story of the Black Devils,” and a discussion with writer/director Greg Hancock.
The First Special Service Force was trained in alpine combat, covert amphibious landings, airborne operations and other unconventional methods. The force suffered 2,314 casualties, won five U.S. campaign stars and eight Canadian battle honors.
It battled Germans in the mountains of Italy and in southern France after initially preparing for a potential role in the liberation of Norway.