Darryl Stonehouse says it took his breath away to see his father honoured by the US government for his service in the Second World War.
Belbert Stonehouse, a Forest native who now lives in Arizona, is one of 42 surviving members of a unit called the Devil’s Brigade. They were the first Special Forces military unit assembles and it was a joint effort between the US and Canada.
They were recently given the highest honour the US Congress can give – the Congressional Gold Medal.
Stonehouse, who is from Petrolia, says the group his father was a part of were a “secret group” whose training was “extremely intense…they learned how to ski, mountain climb and had amphibious training; they were the beginning of the Green Berets, the Navy Seals and the US Special Forces.”
Stonehouse says the enemy feared the Devil’s Brigade because they would kill the enemy then use their own guns to gain more ground. “That terrified the Germans because they didn’t know where the shooting was coming from…the Germans didn’t know they were being shot by their own guns.”
It is said that for every member of the Devil’s Brigade who died in battle, 25 enemy soldiers were killed.
Because the unit was so secretive, Stonehouse says “people had never heard of them and …they got brushed aside.”
But now, as the veterans age and pass away, the US Government wanted to honour their service.
The Petrolia man wasn’t able to be in Washington for the ceremony which honoured his father but watched it via the Internet. “It kind of took by breath away to see my dad there with a couple of generals beside him,” he says adding “To be recognized by another country is a big deal.”
Stonehouse says his father rarely talked about his experiences with the Devil’s Brigade but he’s “very proud” of his father.