US Coins

Congress recognizes OSS with gold medal

A congressional gold medal honoring the World War II contributions of the Office of Strategic Services was presented March 21 on behalf of Congress in ceremonies held in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

The public may now buy 1.5-inch and 3-inch bronze duplicates of the gold medal struck by the U.S. Mint. The 1.5-inch medal is offered at $6.95 each and the 3-inch bronze medal at $39.95.

Seeing doubled elements on a Lincoln cent?Seeing doubled elements on a Lincoln cent? You might have a doubled die variety, of which hundreds of different of varieties both common and rare exist. Also in this issue, we reflect on a time when U.S. paper money depicted living persons.

The medal’s obverse was designed by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Emily Damstra and sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon. The reverse was also designed by Damstra, but sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph F. Menna.

The obverse features the inscription “OSS” partially revealing three figures — a woman, a paratrooper, and a man in a suit — that represent the broad range of work undertaken by the OSS. Each figure is rendered as a shape without details, hinting at the way OSS agents sought to operate anonymously. The diversity in the OSS is also reflected by the figures, conveying that OSS members were men and women, civilian and military. The design also features the dates 1942–1945, the years during which the OSS operated.

The reverse depicts the OSS Spearhead inscribed with code words related to important OSS missions and agents.

Composed of both military personnel and civilians, the OSS was the first U.S. effort to implement a system of strategic intelligence during World War II and provided the basis for the modern-day U.S. intelligence and special operations communities. Women comprised more than one-third of the OSS.

Present day Special Operations Forces trace their lineage to the OSS. The CIA, the Navy SEALs, the Army Special Forces, and the Air Force Special Operations Command all have their precursors in the OSS. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research also traces its creation to the OSS Research and Analysis Branch. 

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