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President Biden Signs Bill to Honor Ghost Army
Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to Secretive WWII Units
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Biden today signed the bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the secretive WWII deception units known as The Ghost Army.
“What an honor,” said 98-year-old Ghost Army veteran Bernie Bluestein, from his home in suburban Chicago. “I never in my lifetime expected anything like this, it completely blasts me. I’m just sorry that there are not more of my fellow soldiers still alive that can be enjoying this as much as I do.”
The medal goes to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and the 3133rd Signal Company Special.
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 carried out more than 20 deception missions, 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, are 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.
The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress's utmost expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions. Dating back to the American Revolution, The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest distinction Congress can bestow.
There are just nine surviving Ghost Army veterans scattered throughout the U.S., including:
- Bill Anderson, 97, Kent, Ohio
- Bernie Bluestein, 98, Schaumberg, Illinois
- John Christman, 97, Leesburg, New Jersey
- George Dramis, 97, Raleigh, North Carolina
- Manny Frockt, 97, West Palm Beach, Florida
- Nick Leo, 99, Brentwood, New York
- Mark Mallardi, 98, Edgewater, Florida
- Bill Nall, 97, Dunellon, Florida
- Seymour Nussenbaum, 98, Monroe Township, New Jersey
“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, speaking on the floor of the House Wednesday. “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 Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate.
“I am thrilled these deserving, brave and intrepid warriors of deception have at last been awarded this high honor,” said Ghost Army Legacy Project Rick Beyer president, who has worked for seven years to get this bill passed. “Armed with their wits and guile these men saved lives and helped win the war. Their story is an inspiration to all of us! So many have contributed to this moment — volunteers, members of the House and Senate from both parties, Ghost Army veterans and their families — with energy and devotion to seeing the valiant efforts of the Ghost Army properly honored.”
For photos and video of The Ghost Army, go here.
For more information see www.ghostarmylegacyproject.org
Rick Beyer, President
Ghost Army Legacy Project