Canadian 'Devils' receiving U.S. honour
August 12, 2005
It's been a long time coming. Canadian members of the Devil's Brigade will finally be awarded the U.S. Combat Infantryman Badge this weekend.
It's an honour that was bestowed upon their American counterparts more than 40 years ago.
The presentation will be the highlight the 59th reunion of the First Special Service Force, taking place in Calgary.
Since the 1960s, the FSSF veterans association had lobbied without success for Congress to award the badge to the Canadian contingent of the elite commando unit.
But, on May 5, the U.S. government announced it would recognize the heroism of the Canadian soldiers.
"Their persistence paid off. It took 40 years, but they finally got it through," said Brian Hillier, a Department of National Defence spokesman.
"Back in the Second World War, it was only given to U.S. infantry personnel. All the American members of the FSSF have received this award, but no Canadians."
On Saturday, the Canadian veterans, who are now all well into their 80s, will receive the badge during a special banquet at the Eau Claire Sheraton.
Larry Story, an Alberta member of the Devil's Brigade, said he's happy the Canadians are finally receiving the prestigious badge.
"The Americans got it, why shouldn't we?" he said. "It's something to be very proud of."
The Devil's Brigade was formed as an American and Canadian joint commando unit in 1942. The 2,400 members fought in hand-to-hand battles and became one of the most renowned special service forces in history.
The Combat Infantryman Badge was established in 1943. It was created to recognize the heroism of the American infantry.
On Thursday, a military gathering was held at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to honour the Canadian veterans of the Devil's Brigade.
© The Calgary Herald 2005