By Fred Woods
The unique story of Opelika’s Orrin “Boody” Brown, IV, has recently added a new chapter. Lt. Col. Brown, the Air Force bombardier who dropped leaflets and propaganda sheets over Europe instead of bombs in World War II, is about to get another medal in recognition of his service in that conflict. You see, while Boody was not dropping bombs, enemy fighter planes and antiaircraft were firing real ammunition at Boody and his bomber.
A bill entitled the Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 14 authorizing a gold medal “of appropriate design” to be struck and awarded to veterans of the OSS “ … in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II.”
The bill, with a number of co-sponsors in both houses of Congress, had passed the Senate in December 2015 but did not make it through the House until Nov. 30 of this year. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the forerunner to today’s Central Intelligence Service (CIA).
Boody Brown is eligible for this medal since his WWII bomber group, the 801st/492nd Bombardment Group, “The Carpetbaggers,” was assigned to the OSS.
The Carpetbaggers, with their B-24s, engaged in operations over Germany and German-occupied territory to drop leaflets, supplies for resistance units, etc. The group received the Distinguished Unit Citation for their operations, performed at night, despite adverse weather conditions and “vigorous opposition from enemy ground forces.”
They were also cited by the French government for similar operations over France. The Carpetbaggers flew their last combat mission in April 1945. As mentioned in the Observer’s previous article about Lt. Col. Brown, he received the Belgian Cross for his service to that grateful country.
Boody is the last living member of the original squadron of the 801st/492nd Bombardment Group and regularly attends reunions of the group’s surviving members. He has received no word about the manner in which the gold medals will be awarded, but promises to keep us posted.