This past December 5th marks the 75th anniversary of the deactivation of the First Special Services Force in Menton, France. It is a day recognized and celebrated by U.S. Army Special Forces. Also known as the Devil’s Brigade, the joint Canadian-American units are the forefathers of today’s Green Berets, achieving a reputation of being able to accomplish the impossible. Formed during WWII, the FSSF were the first soldiers trained to work in intense conditions during unconventional warfare. Expecting to encounter Japanese Forces, the Devil’s Brigade’s first deployment was in August 1943 to the island of Kisaka in the Aleutian Islands. The Japanese forces were not present, having left the island three days before. On the way to the island, a Japanese torpedo sunk the USS Helena. Raising $5,000 dollars, the men of the Devil’s Brigade attempted to replace the ship, but the money was denied. That money eventually goes towards the commission of a FSSF memorial in Helena, which is rightfully deserved after the unit later succeeds at every mission.
6 months before the invasion of Normandy, FSSP arrived in Italy with a mission to clear the mountain tops of the Winter Line from German forces. Scaling the cliffs of Monte la Defensa, 200 men engaged with German forces, clearing them out within 4 hours. Throughout their active state of 251 days, the Devil’s Brigade lost over 2,300 men, 134% of their combat strength. It was a cost to such notable and honorable victories. In those active days, the Devil’s Brigade won 5 U.S. campaign stars and 8 Canadian battle honors. Never once did they fail a mission!