The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Memorial, dedicated in October 2022, honors more than 125 military service members killed in action while serving in the OSS during World War II.
Established on June 13, 1942, the Office of Strategic Services preceded the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Its personnel included members from every branch of the U.S. military. Yet its origins even predate the United States’ formal entry into World War II. By June 1941, as the Axis powers advanced throughout Europe, North Africa and the Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had grown increasingly concerned that existing U.S. intelligence activities around national security — traditionally spread between the State Department and the military intelligence services — lacked central coordination. Consequently, Roosevelt appointed William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan, a distinguished former U.S. Army officer who had earned the Medal of Honor during World War I, as the Coordinator of Information (COI), the chief of a new, civilian intelligence agency. Several months after the United States entered the war, the Roosevelt administration reorganized COI as the Office of Strategic Services under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Donovan served as its founding director.
OSS personnel (totaling approximately 13,000 by late 1944) served in every theater of the war, as well as in Washington, D.C. The intelligence that they gathered and analyzed played a key role in Allied military victories during the war, as well as in shaping U.S. foreign policy objectives overall. The success of the OSS in World War II also laid groundwork for a permanent intelligence infrastructure, culminating in the creation of the CIA in 1947 (as part of that year’s landmark National Security Act).
The Office of Strategic Services Memorial specifically honors those members who were in the military at the time of their deaths. The granite memorial, at the intersection of Roosevelt and Grant Drives in Section 2, features an inscription that reads: “In Honor of the More Than 125 Military Service Members Killed in Action While Serving in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. The Remains of at Least 35 Have Never Been Recovered.” A carving on its front side bears the OSS symbol, a spearhead. William J. Donovan lays at rest nearby (Section 2, Grave 4874).