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Special Forces Association, Chapter 28 (Montana) established the General Robert Frederick award in Honor of the First Special Service Force (FSSF) and its founding officer and first commander. The award is presented to the sponsored Institution’s best qualified Reserve Officer’s Training Corps and U.S. Military Academy Cadet as determined by the respective Departments. The award was first presented at the University of Montana and Montana State in the spring of 2005. The criterion for determining awardees was a collaborative effort by the officers of SFA 28, the Professors of Military Science, and cadre of the first two participating Universities: (Criteria guidelines attached).


Each V-42 is “faithfully true” to original, 1942 wartime production plans & specifications developed by then-COL Robert T. Frederick. The V-42 (“V” for Victory, 42 for the year of creation) was issued to each member of the FSSF and is part of the Special Forces Regimental Crest together with the crossed arrows of the Special Forces Branch. The walnut-constructed shadow box contains a centered, serial numbered V-42 stiletto as well as an image of Gen, Frederick, his biography, crossed arrows Branch insignia and the FSSF shoulder patch. Its size is 13 1/16”x 17 ¼” x 2 3/8”. Each participating university, college or academy in the program will be provide one of the awards to hang in a prominent place in their respective Department offices.


To date, Fourteen (14) Universities participate: (List of Universities & Chapters attached). Each “new state” sponsored university, college or academy department will receive the V-42 and shadow box award at no cost, courtesy of W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery, until all fifty (50) states are represented. The awardees V-42 and shadow box will be the expense of the sponsoring Chapter as well as subsequent universities & colleges “in” state.

SFA Chapters that sponsor the Gen Frederick Award will receive full support from SFA 28 and W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery. Sponsoring Chapters must make a long term commitment to work with the Universities, colleges and academy of their choice. West Point and Oregon State were included this Spring. 


The US Army Special Warfare Center is now presenting the award to the Special Forces Qualification Course instructor who epitomizes the SOF attributes as well as exceptional character and leadership during each qualification course, called the MG Robert T. Frederick Distinguished Cadre Award. The First Special Service Force Association is using the Award to present annually to the outstanding operator in each of the US and Canadian Special Operations Commands. The 9/11 Memorial V-42 Award was first presented to the 5th Special Forces Group; CIA and the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Nov 9, 2017. 22 More shall be presented to the units which followed the 5th Group after 9/11 into the war on terrorism.

Interested Chapters contact Bob Brugh at or cell 406.240.7368.

Presented to the Special Forces Qualification Course Instructor who epitomized the SOF attributes as well as exceptional character and leadership during Special Forces Qualification Course Class # 3XX.


U.S. Army Special Forces units today trace their lineage and honors directly to the First Special Service Force (FSSF), the joint Canadian-American organization formed in July 1942 at Fort William Henry Harrison, Montana.  This regiment was an all-volunteer outfit with exceptionally high standards known for its extensive and rigorous military and physical training. 

The FSSF fought under Allied command with great bravery and success in the Aleutians, Italy, and Southern France. The unit got its nickname, “The Devil’s Brigade,” during the Italian campaign from a passage in the captured diary of a dead German officer who had written:   “The black devils are all around us every time we come into line and we never hear them.”

The men were issued special gear including specialized weapons, leather jackets, mountain climbing gear, parkas and other cold weather equipment.   As an elite “commando type unit” that would operate near or behind enemy lines, the FSSF had a requirement for a special type of fighting knife.  The knife envisioned by its commander, LTC (later MG) Robert T. Frederick, was actually a group effort among his staff for the perfect fighting knife.   FSSF close quarters combat instructor, Dermot Michael “Pat” O’Neil, a former sergeant in the Shanghai Municipal Police Force, suggested the blade profile.  O’Neill gave great thought to the needs of these special troops as it related to close quarters combat.

COL Orval J. Baldwin, FSSF supply officer, is credited with the skull crusher pointed pommel idea. The final rough sketch was sent to three knife companies for bids: Camillus, Cattaraugus and Case. The Case model was personally selected by Frederick himself.  The W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company of Bradford, Pennsylvania, was selected to produce the knife which was designated in Ordnance Department documents as “Knife, Fighting, Commando Type, V-42.”   The designation of V-42 stood for its pattern number according to a Case Knife Company historian. Three prototype knives, with polished steel finishes, were delivered by Case in August 1942.   Frederick carried one of these prototype knives throughout the Italian campaign while the other two were retained by Baldwin.  With some improvements on the prototypes they were then forwarded to the Ordnance Department for testing on a priority basis.

The first recorded order for the V-42 knife occurred on 27 November 1942, and orders continued until November 1943.   The original order of 1,750 was received in November 1942; 70 in February 1943; 600 in June 1943; 100 in October 1943; and 900 in November 1943 for a total of 3,423.   This limited production makes this the rarest officially authorized standard production knife issued to the U.S. Forces in World War II.   The first 500 knives were serial numbered.  The V-42 was also known as the “The Force Knife.”  After gaining proficiency with hand to hand combat, soldiers were introduced to the V-42 fighting knife.   Soldiers learned that the knife could be used either in a slashing or stabbing fashion.  Part of FSSF training included classes on human anatomy; soldiers were taught how to bleed a man or quickly kill.  Only members of the Combat Echelon of the FSSF were issued the knife.  The men took a great deal of pride in the V-42 knives as a symbol of an elite unit as well as a deadly fighting tool in its own right.

So unique was the V-42 knife that it was incorporated into the first design for the coat of arms of the First Special Service Force flag manufactured in 1943.  It is the only heraldic item to appear on the shield and a set of crossed arrows that make up the coat of arms.  In 1960, when the First Special Service Force was reconstituted as the 1st Special Forces, the parent regiment for all Special Forces groups, the original coat of arms used by the FSSF was adopted by the 1st Special Forces.  The shield of the coat of arms has never been changed.   The distinctive unit insignia (better known as unit crest) of the 1st Special Forces still has the V-42 prominently displayed in the center of the design between two crossed arrows.  It has been worn by Special Forces soldiers since 1960 when it was originally approved for wear.

The First Special Service Force was officially inactivated on 5 December 1944 in Villeneuve-Lobet, France.   But the Case V-42 lives on to this day.   In the U.S. Special Operations community, it is the symbol of many great accomplishments.   The White Star Training Teams in Laos circa 1960-61 used the V-42 on their beret insignia.   The 7th Special Forces Group Mobile Training Teams in El Salvador used the V-42 on their unofficial pocket patches.   Numerous other patches and crests use this knife for their central character as a symbol of stealth and courage.

The V-42 is a legendary knife that today is an enduring symbol of the most elite of the U.S. Army.  No article of equipment is as synonymous with the First Special Service as their V-42 Fighting Knife.

Award Evaluation Criteria :


  1. Leadership:  The nature of FSSF missions required its officers and NCOs to possess outstanding leadership skills allowing them to execute complex small unit operations under ambiguous unforgiving conditions.  The FSSF expected its leaders to be at the forefront of combat and at the decisive point when it mattered.  LTC Fredrick himself was consistently seen in the thick of the fighting directing his unit as well as helping to evacuate his wounded under fire. The awardee must exhibit the leadership skills demanded of officers and NCOs in the FSSF.


  1. Character:  Due to the strategic implications attached to the missions the unit was assigned, leaders in the FSSF were evaluated on their sound judgment and were expected to possess strength of character.   Character is essential to sound leaders and to the production of specialized fighting organizations.  The awardee must exhibit the strength of character associated with leadership in the FSSF.


  1. Professionalism:  The FSSF blended the cultures and traditions found in the US and Canadian militaries.  Despite the challenges this created, both Officers and Soldiers were expected to put their differences aside and display the professionalism required of a highly trained fighting force.  Professionalism was not only required of unit personnel but was also reflected in the unit's training.  The unit acquired experts in their fields to conduct training and increase individual and collective proficiency.  Frederick hired Dermot Michael “Pat” O’Neil, a civilian and former sergeant in the Shanghai Municipal Police Force, to instruct close quarters combat.   O'Neil was an expert in knife combat and was a principal designer of the V-42.  When the unit deployed, O'Neil refused to stay behind and volunteered for combat.  Frederick, recognizing his professionalism and commitment made O'Neil a Captain in the FSSF.  The awardee must be an expert instructor and display the professionalism demonstrated by Captain O'Neil, the FSSFs principal close combat instructor. 


  1. Capability:  During the Battle of Anzio, German prisoners were often surprised at how few men the Force actually contained. A captured German Lieutenant admitted to being under the assumption that the Force was a division.  During the battle the men of the FSSF fought for 99 days without relief, demonstrating an unmatched capability to field an expert light infantry unit capable of excelling under the most demanding circumstances at an unrelenting pace. The awardee must demonstrate the same physical fitness/endurance along with superior technical and tactical expertise that was exhibited by the FSSF during the Battle of Anzio.


Award Citation:


The Citadel; South Carolina

Clemson; South Carolina

Eastern Washington; Washington

Furman; South Carolina

Washington State University; Washington

Idaho University; Idaho

University of Montana; Montana

Montana State University; Montana

Oregon State; Oregon

Presbyterian; South Carolina

University of South Carolina; South Carolina

United States Military Academy; New York

Virginia Military Institute; Virginia

University of Wyoming; Wyoming*

*Not presenting the award to cadet, just a name/plaque

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