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Congress medal sought for late Devil's Brigade members

08/01/2013 07:16 EDT | Updated 10/01/2013 05:12 EDT
Surviving members of a joint U.S.-Canada Second World War brigade are receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, but a group of veterans would like to see the honour extended to all members, living and dead.

A veterans committee in Summerside, P.E.I., is lobbying to see the medal awarded posthumously to Devil's Brigade members who have died. It's the highest civilian honour given by the U.S. Congress.

Greg Deighan's late brother was a brigade member, and describes Charlie as a modest man who never talked about his service.

"He was wounded twice in Italy," said Deighan.

"They took a lot of casualties and they lost a lot of friends and they wanted to put that behind them I think, and they never really spoke about it to us."

The Devil's Brigade was the first special service force, designed to operate behind enemy lines, and a model for similar units that came afterwards.

"It's sad now to know how much they did and most of them are not with us anymore," said Deighan.

Of the 700 Canadians who served in the brigade, 17 were Prince Edward Islanders. Only one of those Islanders, Lawrence Durant, survives.

George Dalton, a member of Summerside's Lest We Forget committee, believes it is important to honour all brigade members, "to pass the act of remembrance onto the families, so that if they get a medal it's passed down the family tree and it's honoured," said Dalton.

The committee will begin its lobby with the brigade association, and from there go on to the U.S. Congress.

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