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GHOST ARMY VETERANS TO RECEIVE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL AT MARCH CEREMONY
Speaker Johnson, Congressional Leaders to Honor Surviving Members at the Capitol
Monday, January 22, 2024
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The long-awaited ceremony to present the Congressional Gold Medal to the Ghost Army, the secret WWII units that used creative deception to fool the enemy, will take place at the Capitol on March 21.
House Speaker Mike Johnson will host the special event, along with House and Senate leaders and sponsors of the legislation passed in 2022 authorizing the award, Congress's highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements by individuals or institutions. It will be the first time the Gold Medal, designed and produced by the U.S. Treasury Department, will be unveiled.
There are just seven surviving members of the Ghost Army, now aged 100, several of whom are expected to attend the ceremony in person, along with the families of many other Ghost Army veterans. They include:
- James “Tom” Anderson, Dover, DE
- Bernard Bluestein, Hoffman Estates, IL
- John Christman, Leesburg, NJ
- George Dramis, Raleigh, NC
- William Nall, Dunnellon, FL
- Seymour Nussenbaum, Monroe Township, NJ
- John Smith, Woodland, MI
The special ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21 at the Capitol Building (location TBA). 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.
Further details of the ceremony will be forthcoming.
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. U.S. Army analyst Mark Kronman stated,
“Rarely, if ever, has there been a group of such a few men which had so great an influence on the outcome of a major military campaign.” A sister unit, the 3133rd Signal Company Special, carried out two deceptions in Italy in 1945.
“What made the Ghost Army special was not just their extraordinary courage, but their creativity,” said Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), the House sponsor of the bill authorizing the Gold Medal. “Their story reminds us that listening to unconventional ideas, like using visual and sound deception, can help us solve existential challenges like defeating tyranny.”
Other primary bill sponsors include former Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate.
Rick Beyer, President
Ghost Army Legacy Project