Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to Texoma Veterans

During a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, area Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) joined fellow leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to present the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of the men of the 1st Special Service Force. Mrs. Janet Smith and her husband, Ricky Smith, of Dumas attended the ceremony on behalf of her father, Albert G. Stanton, who was a member of the elite World War II unit.

The Medal, first awarded to George Washington for his military courage during the Revolutionary War, is the nation's highest civilian honor. Today's Medal commemorates the members of the 1st Special Service Force, which Nazi troops called the "Devil's Brigade," and the vital role they played in the liberation of Europe and defeat of the Third Reich.

Other members of the 1st Special Service Force from the area include: Ball, Willard C., Claude , TX; Bishop, Jesse, Amarillo, TX;  Gatling, Glenn E., Mobeetie, TX; Manley, Joseph A., Nocona, TX; Melton, Buel L., Tulia, Texas; Menefee, James, Dumas, TX; Robertson, Chandos W., Twitty, Texas; Tunnell, Martin E., Electra, Texas; Wilson, Paul E., Wichita Falls, Texas; and York, Fredrick B., Wichita Falls, Texas.

"Few men could be more deserving of this award than those of the 1st Special Service Force, and I am grateful that these men are now receiving the highest recognition for their incredible service to our nation," Thornberry said. "While no amount of medals or honors will ever fully repay our debt to men like these, this Medal will help ensure that their bravery and service will be remembered and honored as an important piece of history."

The 1st Special Service Force was comprised of U.S. and Canadian troops, and it was formed at the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall, and Lord Louis Mountbatten. The special operations unit participated in numerous campaigns during World War II in France, Italy, and along the Rhineland. The legacy of the unit proudly lives on today in the special forces units of the U.S. and Canada.

Congressional Gold Medals require broad bipartisan support. At least 290 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 67 members of the Senate must cosponsor the legislation before any Congressional Gold Medal bill can be considered.