Skip to main content

Anthony Bernard "Tony" Young

SGT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co B, 1st Platoon


Born 1922 in IL, Died 2009


County of residence at enlistment: Cook County, IL
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: commercial artists
Notes: Good Conduct Medal; rank changed from PVT in GA roster to SGT per his Army discharge papers
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; Company B Names and Addresses roster; bio info from The Ghost Army by Beyer/Sayles and from daughter Erika Vrabel; photo from GA Legacy Project

Photo from Ancestry® (high school yearbook)

Tony Young was born on January 13, 1922 in Chicago, the older of two boys. In his senior year of high school he won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, but could not afford to take it. Instead he went to work as a delivery boy in the mailroom at Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company in Chicago, where he would remain until his retirement. He also practiced commercial art as a sideline.

Tony filled out his draft registration on June 29, 1942, and enlisted a few months later, on October 17, after seeing a notice that the military was looking for artists to become part of a special unit.

He became engaged to his future wife, the German-born Erika Schmidt, in 1942 after a dinner at famed Chicago restaurant Berghoff's; they married in 1943. They would go on to have three children: Anthony, Erika, and Barbara.

Tony served overseas with the Ghost Army; after his return to the US he went back to work at Peoples.

"Penny Flame," courtesy Nicor Gas Facebook page

During his 44 years with the utility, he moved from delivery boy, to artist, to head of the creative group, to assistant advertising manager in 1956, and finally to advertising manager in 1959. In his tenure there, he created the well-known "Penny Flame" and "Digger" images for ad campaigns.

He retired in 1984, saying he planned to pursue art, photography, and golf, with a promise to bring down his handicap. He continued to study art throughout his retirement, working in a variety of media.

Tony died on March 9, 2009, in Chicago, and is buried at Maryhill Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum in Niles, IL. He was survived by his wife; they had been married for 66 years.


1940 high school yearbook photo

2003 photo with wife


1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1956 Chicago Tribune article re his promotion

1959 Chicago Tribune article re his promotion

1984 Chicago Tribune article re his retirement

2009 Social Security death index

2009 Find a Grave record

2009 Chicago Tribune death notice,0.7396786,0.9236133,0.84543735&xid=3355&_ga=2.207276756.632530333.1607376168-1429075086.1606939333

2013 article by daughter Erika Vrabel in Lakeview IL Patch

2018 article by Rick Beyer in Chicago Sun-Times

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!