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Ghost Army in the News

Fort Wayne veteran Bill Blass to posthumously receive Congressional Gold Medal

Fort Wayne Business Weekly

WWII Soldier in a jeep

Bill Blass is seen in a Jeep during World war II

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fort Wayne native and renowned clothing designer Bill Blass will be posthumously honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the secret WWII Ghost Army, renowned for their creative deception tactics, according to the Ghost Army Legacy Project.

Blass, a 23rd Headquarters Special Troops member, will be recognized along with others at the U.S. Capitol on March 21. Of the 82 officers and 1,023 soldiers who served in the Ghost Army, there are just seven surviving members, now aged 100, three of whom are expected to attend the ceremony in person, along with the families of many other Ghost Army veterans.

The ceremony, hosted by House Speaker Mike Johnson, will unveil the Gold Medal, a symbol of national appreciation for distinguished achievements. Attendees include surviving Ghost Army members and their families, marking the culmination of nearly two decades of advocacy by the Ghost Army Legacy Project.

Blass, later an iconic American fashion designer, played a pivotal role in the Ghost Army’s mission. His legacy is celebrated by Bill Blass Legacy, Inc., which continues to honor his contributions.

Legislation was passed in 2022 authorizing the award. Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements by individuals or institutions, the Gold Medal, designed and produced by the U.S. Treasury Department, will be unveiled for the first time.

The seven surviving Ghost Army members are James “Tom” Anderson, Dover, Delaware; Bernard Bluestein, Hoffman Estates, Illinois; John Christman, Leesburg, New Jersey; George Dramis, Raleigh, North Carolina; William Nall, Dunnellon, Florida; Seymour Nussenbaum, Monroe Township, New Jersey; John Smith, Woodland, Michigan.

The special ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. March 21 at the Capitol Building. It will culminate a nearly 20-year effort by members and volunteers of the Ghost Army Legacy Project to raise awareness and win recognition for the little-known Army units that played a unique but unheralded part in the Allied victory of WWII.

The existence of the Ghost Army was top secret for more than 50 years until it was declassified in 1996. That’s when the public first learned of the creative, daring techniques the Ghost Army employed to fool and distract the enemy about the strength and location of American troops, including the use of inflatable tanks, sound effects, radio trickery, and impersonation.

The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops staged more than 20 deception operations, often dangerously close to the front, in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. This “traveling road show of deception” of only 1,100 troops appearing to be more than 20,000 is credited with saving an estimated 30,000 American lives.

“It’s been a long but ultimately rewarding effort to bring attention and much overdue recognition to the Ghost Army,” said Rick Beyer, president of The Ghost Army Legacy Project. “The story of the Ghost Army is one of courage, creativity, reliance, and honor. I am proud to have been a part of this effort, along with so many others, to earn the credit and gratitude from the country these soldiers served to protect.”

Blass was one of a handpicked group of young artists, designers, and sound engineers who landed in France in 1944 to conduct the Ghost Army’s secret mission. Bill Blass Legacy, Inc., an Indiana nonprofit led by Kathy Carrier, organized a 100-day centennial celebration in his honor in 2022 and continues to honor Blass. Barbara Camp, his niece, and several Bill Blass Legacy board members will attend the ceremony and return with replica medals to display locally.

For more on Bill Blass, the World War II Ghost Army, and Bill Blass Legacy plans, see

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The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

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