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Ghost Army in the News

At Long Last, a Gold Medal for America's World War II 'Ghost Army'

New York Times

Portrait of loder man in classes

Bernie Bluestein, age 100, is one of only seven surviving members of a secret World War II unit that was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal on Thursday. Credit: Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times

For most of his life, Bernie Bluestein was not allowed to say anything about what he did during World War II in Western Europe.

Mr. Bluestein was a sophomore at Cleveland School of the Arts in 1943 when he left to join the U.S. Army. He then trained in a secret unit that landed at Normandy, France, shortly after D-Day in June 1944.

“What we did is we attracted the Germans’ attention so that the real units could do whatever they had to do elsewhere,” Mr. Bluestein, age 100, said in an interview.

As a private first class serving in the 603rd Camouflage Engineer Battalion, he created fake shoulder patches that his fellow soldiers wore on their uniforms to impersonate different elements of an infantry division. He also painted truck bumpers to falsely display markings of Army units that were actually elsewhere.

On Thursday, Mr. Bluestein and two other members of the Ghost Army — Seymour Nussenbaum, age 100, and John Christman, 99 — received the Congressional Gold Medal on Capitol Hill before a crowd of more than 600 that included family members and friends.

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