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Welch Presents Vermont World War II Veteran with Congressional Gold Medal

January 7, 2019
Press Release

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today presented Mr. Albert Besser of Morrisville with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his heroic service as part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor that Congress can award to a civilian.

“Albert Besser is an American hero deserving of this honor,” said Welch. “Though no award can adequately do justice to the immense sacrifice and bravery of OSS veterans, I am pleased that this remarkable unit is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Mr. Besser is truly exemplary of the Greatest Generation.”

The OSS was the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and special operations community. Created to gather intelligence and wage unconventional warfare in enemy territory, the OSS was a critical component to the Allied victory in World War II.

On March 21, 2018, Congress approved legislation cosponsored by Rep. Welch to collectively award the Congressional Gold Medal to OSS veterans in recognition of their service to the nation. Rep. Welch secured a replica of the medal to present to Mr. Besser in person.

Now 94 years old, Mr. Besser enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and volunteered specifically for “hazardous duty,” which landed him in the OSS. He then served with the OSS in Japan and China, where his work included joining guerilla missions behind enemy lines. He is one of only about 100 living OSS veterans.