Skip to main content

Ghost Army in the News

Secret Ghost Army Member to Receive Posthumous Honor

Geauga County Maple Leaf

WWII SOldier with pipe

The nation’s capital is set to honor a secret World War II unit called the Ghost Army, as well as one of its members — Marion “Pat” Pastoric, of Chester Township — with the Congressional Gold Medal March 21.

In a March 11 interview, Pamela Pastoric, 69, expressed her excitement at attending the event and representing her late father, who passed away in 2003.

“I have been waiting for this for 10 years,” Pamela said.

Pat was born Dec. 8, 1921, in Columbus. He was one of three sons to parents born in what is now Croatia, according to the Ghost Army Legacy Project website.

By 1930, the family moved to Cleveland and Pat’s father worked in an auto factory. Pat graduated from East Tech High School in Cleveland in 1940 and upon graduation, he was awarded a GeorgeBellows full four-year scholarship to the Columbus College of Art where he took a course in camouflage for his Industrial Design Major.

Unfortunately, his education was disrupted by the war after completing only two years.

Pat registered for the draft Feb. 15 and enlisted in the army Sept. 22, 1942, under the occupation category of “semi-skilled machine shop and related occupations.”

Pat worked for five months at

the Warner and Swasey Company, a leading manufacturer of machine tools and instruments. Like many art students, he was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion and served in Europe during the war.

Pat would create watercolors at some of his stateside stations before going overseas, as well as in England and Europe. He also kept a sketchbook while in Europe and carried his Kodak camera throughout the war.

The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops staged more than 20 deception operations — often dangerously close to the front — in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, said the GALP in a Jan. 22 press release.

This “traveling road show of deception” of only 1,100 troops that appeared to be more than 20,000 is credited with saving an estimated 30,000 American lives, U.S. Army analyst Mark Kronman said in the press release.

“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,” he said.

After more than 50 years of keeping it top secret, the existence of the Ghost Army was declassified in1996 when the public first learned of the creative, daring techniques they employed to fool and distract the enemy about the strength and location of American troops, according to the GALP.

The army’s techniques included the use of inflatable tanks, sound effects, radio trickery and impersonation.

“What made the Ghost Army special was not just their extraordinary courage, but their creativity,”New Hampshire State Rep. Annie Kuster said in the release. “Their story reminds us that listening to unconventional ideas, like using visual and sound deception, can help us solve existential challenges like defeating tyranny.”

Of the 82 officers and 1,023 soldiers who served in the Ghost Army, only seven members are still alive at age 100 or older. Three of them are expected to attend the ceremony in person along with the families of many other Ghost Army veterans.

The celebration will culminate a nearly 20-year effort by members and volunteers of the GALP to raise awareness and win recognition for the little-known army units who played a unique but unheralded part in the allied victory of World War II.

“It’s been a long, but ultimately, rewarding effort to bring attention and much overdue recognition to the Ghost Army,” GALP President Rick Beyer said in the press release. “The story of the Ghost Army is one of courage, creativity, reliance and honor, and 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.”

During his time in the Ghost Army, Pat became good friends with William Marsalko and Bernie Bluestein, both 603rd members from Cleveland. After returning to Cleveland, both Pat and Bernie studied at the Cleveland School of Art, now the Cleveland Institute of Art. Pat majored in graphic design/industrial design and both men graduated in 1947, according to the GALP.

The day after graduation, Pat married Evelyn Leskovec, with Marsalko serving as best man.

Pat and Evelyn became the parents of five children: Gregory, Thomas, Pamela, James and Raymond. The children all knew Marsalko as “Uncle Billy.”

In the early 1950s, Pat changed his and his family’s last name from Pastorcich to Pastoric, eliminating two letters to make the name easier to spell and say, according to the GALP, which added Pat’s hobbies included photography, poetry and art.

He continued to make art throughout his life, sketching, working in pastels and watercolors, painting portraits and signs, and doing some freelance work, especially after retirement.

“We moved to Chesterland in 1959. We had a great street on Cherry Lane with all of us kids growing up together with the other families,” Pamela recalled. “Dad would wander up to the plaza for ‘snacks ’ and chat with people at the store, and we wondered if he got lost.”

She knew absolutely nothing about her father’s involvement in the Ghost Army, just that he was in camouflage, she said.

“Dad had only said that he was in a camouflage unit, but not a whole lot more. Probably due to the secrecy,” Pamela said.

She described her father as a nice man who loved his family, all his grandchildren and people.

“He was the sweetest guy and you would never know anything. He’s the kind of guy who’d sit there in a chair watching TV, eat his vanilla cookies and milk,” she said. “He was just a regular guy.”

Pamela also noted father played Santa Claus for family, friends, neighbors and at the Chesterland Plaza.

“As he got older and the beard started growing and changing color, he eventually began playing Santa Claus. He did that for as many years as he could,” she said. “That was just fun.”

Pat passed away Dec. 31, 2003, in Cleveland and is buried at Western Reserve Memorial Gardens in Chester.

“The Ghost Army was this secret thing. It saved lives and helped the course of the war,” Pamela said.“I don’t even know if they realized how big of a deal they were at the time.”

Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

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.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!