On Tuesday, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke welcomed family and friends of Brooklyn Staff Sergeant Edward Mrozik to present him with a Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the WWII predecessor to the CIA and the U.S. Special Operations Command.
“It is my privilege to present the Congressional Gold Medal to Specialist X First Class and Staff Seargent of the U.S. Army Edward Joseph Mrozik as a member of the Office of Strategic Services and continued service thereafter,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “It is an honor that we have such a heroic figure in our community.
The Congressional Gold Medal, next to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is the nation’s highest civilian honor. It has been awarded to notable Americans such as President Harry S. Truman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott-King, and The Tuskegee Airmen.
On March 21, Congress awarded the OSS with the Congressional Gold Medal to honor its members collectively for their pioneering service. The agency, formed in 1942, coordinated espionage activities for the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII and proved especially useful in providing information on Germany’s war effort.
At its peak in 1944, the OSS employed close to 13,000 people. Today, only 100 members of the organization are still alive. Mrozik is one of them, as Clarke and her team discovered after extensive research.
“Your service has made it possible for us to live the lives we live today,” said Clarke. “We often like to complain, but things could have been a whole lot worse, if you would have not made the sacrifices you have made at such a young age.”
A Brooklyn native, Mrozik joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He served with the OSS from 1943 to 1946 and ranked Specialist X First Class. In 1946, Mrozik left the Navy and enlisted in the U.S. Army. After his discharge in 1952, he continued his career with the Department of Defense until his retirement in 1988.
The 93-year-old veteran still reminisces about his time in the OSS, as his daughter Barbara shared.
“My father talks about his service in the OSS all the time,” she said. “It was a very important part of his life. And he shared his experiences and values with us kids, so we can become the people we are today.”
Her sister Anne, visibly moved, thanked Clarke for honoring her father.
“Throughout our lives, he has instilled in us values that we live by today,” she said. “The thought that you could make this day possible for my father, means the world to me.”