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Picton’s George Wright receives Minister of National Defence Award of Excellence

General Tom Lawson, Chief of Defence, speaks with George W. Wright, 92, of Picton, who is a veteran of the Devil’s Brigade. The veterans of the First Special Service Force Devil’s Brigade received the Minister of National Defence Award of Excellence at Parliament Hill on January, 27, 2013. The event was hosted by Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs. Photo by Corporal William White CFSU(O) Photo Services ©2013 DND-MDN, CANADA

One of Prince Edward County’s most distinguished soldiers, George Wright, 92, of Picton, was among 13 members of the Devil’s Brigade honoured in a private ceremony in Ottawa on Sunday. The men were presented with the commendation for The First Special Service Force and individually with Minister of National Defence Award of Excellence.

The legendary unit was created in 1942 in Montana, composed of Canadian and American soldiers, originally as a parachute unit that would land behind enemy lines and sabotage installations. Instead, it became a versatile assault group with a reputation for specialized reconnaissance and raiding.

Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, presents George W. Wright, 92, of Picton, veteran of the Devil’s Brigade, with the Ministers Award of Excellence. Photo by Corporal William White CFSU(O) Photo Services ©2013 DND-MDN, CANADA

“As commander-in-chief of Canada, I frequently speak to Canadians about the contributions our veterans have made to our country and to the world, said David Johnston Governor General of Canada, in a speech to the men. “In this, the First Special Service Force is a shining example of co-operation among Allied soldiers in the war, and a lasting symbol of trust between our two countries.

“For those of you who are gathered here to receive this award for operational excellence, today is no doubt a proud, yet difficult, day. The members of this unit paid a very high price for their service, and as veterans you understand the enormity of that sacrifice in a way that few of us can truly comprehend,” said Johnston. “Each of us remembers the cost of war in our own, private way, but together we recognize that the members of this force served valiantly, in common cause. That cause was freedom from tyranny, and as citizens of free and democratic societies, we must never forget our debt to those who served.

“I offer my deepest appreciation to the Canadian and American members of the First Special Service Force. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice.”

Minister of Defence Peter MacKay congratulated the veterans. Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, presented the certificates and American Ambassador David Jacobson also delivered remarks.

In 1944, Wright won the American Silver Star after risking his life to allow a wounded comrade to reach safety.

Wright is well-known in the County as a retired detective sergeant of the now defunct Picton Police Department.

He was unable to attend an event last February in Washington where members of the elite regiment were honoured with the Congressional Gold Medal.

He was honoured to be presented a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal last week at the Picton Royal Canadian Legion. He told friends he wasn’t sure he warranted the medal “but would wear it for my 500 buddies who didn’t return. They paid for it.”

A monument in Helena, Montana honours the nearly 500 Americans and Canadians killed in action.

Wright often attends events at Camp Petawawa where special operations forces personnel perpetuate the hallowed regiment. Each Remembrance Day, two NCOs from Petawawa attend the service in Picton, escorting Mr. Wright to the cenotaph to lay a wreath in memory of the members of the First Special Service Force.

Click here to read from Wright’s memoir ‘The Road That I Have Traveled’ http:www.firstspecialserviceforce.net/GWright_Anzio_Beachead.html

Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, greets George Wright, 92, veteran, of the Devil’s Brigade. Photo by Corporal William White CFSU(O) Photo Services, ©2013 DND-MDN, CANADA

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