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Three Ghost Army Veterans to Join Speaker Johnson, Congressional Leaders at Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three surviving members of the Ghost Army, the top-secret WWII units that used creative deception to fool the enemy, will join House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other Congressional leaders at a special ceremony on March 21 at the Capitol to honor the Ghost Army with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The long-awaited ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21 in Emancipation Hall (Capitol Visitor Center) at the U.S. Capitol Complex in Washington, D.C.

Speaker Johnson and Senate Republican Leader McConnell will be joined at the ceremony by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, along with the original sponsors of the legislation that passed in 2022 authorizing the award, Congress's highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements by individuals or institutions. They are Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH), and former Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT).

There are just seven surviving members of the Ghost Army, three of whom will attend the ceremony:

·      Bernard Bluestein, Hoffman Estates, IL. Bernie is a 100-year-old veteran of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. He served in the visual deception unit, the 603rd Camouflage Engineers.  He joined the unit from the Cleveland Institute of Art and returned after the war for a long and successful career in industrial design. He has been a sculptor for the last 30 years.  

·      John Christman, Leesburg, NJ. John served as a demolition specialist for the 406th.  After the war, he worked in a lumber mill and the NJ Department of Corrections.  He is an active baker who, at age 99, still bakes bread for his family holiday and birthday celebrations.

·      Seymour Nussenbaum, Monroe Township, NJ. Also 100, Seymore came to the Ghost Army from Pratt Institute and served in the 603rd, where he was friends with Bernie. Seymour helped to make the counterfeit patches used by the unit in Special Effects. He graduated from Pratt and went on to a long career in package design. He has been an avid stamp collector his entire life.

Other surviving members include: James “Tom” Anderson (Dover, DE); George Dramis (Raleigh, NC); William Nall (Dunnellon, FL); and John Smith (Woodland, MI).

Many family members and relatives of the Ghost Army veterans, living and deceased, will also attend the ceremony, along with officers from the U.S. Army PSYOP forces. It will culminate a nearly 10-year effort by members and volunteers of the Ghost Army Legacy Project to win recognition for the little-known Army units that played a unique but unheralded part in the Allied victory of WWII and included such notable members as Bill Blass, Art Kane, and Ellsworth Kelly.  The ceremony will also be the first time the Gold Medal, designed and produced by the U.S. Treasury Department, will be unveiled.

The ceremony is part of a two-day celebration for the veterans and their families that includes an awards dinner with featured speaker Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, Commanding General, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Eisenhower, and a screening of The Ghost Army, a 2013 documentary that recounts the daring exploits of the units during World War II.


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 along the Gothic Line in Italy in April 1945. The unit was joined by a platoon from the 101st Royal Engineers, a British unit equipped with dummy rubber tanks.

“What made the Ghost Army special was not just their extraordinary courage, but their creativity,” said Rep. Ann 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.”

For more information see Video interviews and news clips of The Ghost Army are available on YouTube.


Heidi Boie


Rick Beyer, President

Ghost Army Legacy Project

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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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