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U.S. Army Special Operations Command Awards Combat Infantryman Badges to WWII Vets; Photo Available


CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 16 -- The Army News Service has released following article:

USASOC Awards CIBs to WWII Vets

By Sgt. Joe Healy

August 15, 2005

About 100 Canadian and American World War II veterans of a joint special operations unit received Combat Infantryman Badges Aug. 12.

The veterans had been assigned to the First Special Service Force, a one-of-a-kind unit of both Americans and Canadians that fought side-by-side in the Aleutians, France and Italy during the early 1940s. Its members, now in their 80s and 90s, celebrated their 59th annual reunion Aug. 12-14 in Calgary.

A formal awards ceremony culminated the two-day celebration as Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, presented the CIBs.

“This is an award that is long overdue for these men,” Kensinger said. “Their effort was great and they are great heroes. The First Special Service Force is the original Special Forces unit.”

“I waited nearly sixty years!” exclaimed 82-year-old Delbert Stonehouse, a Canadian FSSF veteran. “I am thrilled to receive the award.”

The CIB was established by the War Department on Oct. 27, 1943. The award was designed to enhance morale and the prestige of the “Queen of Battle.”

Then Secretary of War Henry Stinson said, “It is high time we recognize in a personal way the skill and heroism of the American infantry.”

FSSF Canadian veterans are now eligible to receive the award.

“This is a very special day for the FSSF,” said Lt. Gen. Marc Caron, chief of Land Staff Canada. “They are delighted, and we want to thank the Army chief of staff (Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker) for approving the awards.”

Caron noted that the FSSF veterans and modern-day Canadian and U.S. Special Forces still share a “never give up” attitude.

Kensinger urged the FSSF veterans to record their World War II memories.

“There are many stories that our young Soldiers need to learn about the veterans gathered here,” Kensinger said. “It is my hope that the lessons you learned will be passed on.”

The FSSF veterans will gather together next year for their 60th annual reunion in Helana, Mont., the same location the unit trained before heading off to combat. The 60th reunion is scheduled to be the last official gathering.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Sgt. Joe Healy writes for the USASOC News Service.

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