Forty-two surviving members of an elite Second World War fighting force were honoured in Washington last week with the highest civilian honour in the United States, the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Devil’s Brigade is known as the United States-Canadian 1st Special Service Force, and was made up of about 1,800 Canadians and Americans. Their high degree of success struck fear in the German lines.

Herb Peppard, 94, was one of those honoured in the ceremony. The unit received a gold medal and Peppard and the other members each received a bronze replica.

“Right up pretty near to the end, I didn't think it was going to happen, but it did happen and we were very happy about it,” says Peppard. “That night before, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep all night, I was so excited.”

More than 500 family members were able to attend the ceremony, including two of Peppard's daughters.

“We were so proud to be there, in support of dad, his men that could come,” says Peppard’s daughter Lark Hewer.

Art Pottle, 92, of Saint John also received the medal. He was impressed the Canadian contribution to the Devil’s Brigade was not forgotten.

“They had both sets of flags there, American stars and stripes and the Canadian maple leaf,” says Pottle.

Peppard says it was wonderful to see his old comrades. He only wishes he could make it to this summer's coming reunion in the United States.

“To see men that I had served with there, it was a wonderful thing,” says Peppard.

A third Maritimer, Vernon Doucette of Lower Wedgeport, N.S., was among the 14 Canadians to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh