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US senators push for WWII Ghost Army to get Congressional Gold Medal

Ghost Army inflatable dummy tank (United States Army/Wikipedia)
May 16, 2019

The Ghost Army of World War II stayed tucked under the radar and never received any recognition for the gallant efforts, but a group of U.S. senators is working to get them the honors they deserve.

The senators want the Ghost Army to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, but similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and failed, AP News reported.

This time Democrat Sen. Edward Markey and Republican Sen. Susan Collins are paving the way to get it passed in the Senate. Democrat Rep. Annie Kuster and Republican Rep. Peter King introduced an identical bill in the House.

The Ghost Army was comprised of the 23rd Special Headquarters and the 3133rd Signal Company Special. In 1944, the U.S. Army sent the 23rd Special Headquarters troops to France for a special assignment, while the 3133rd Signal Company Special operated in Italy.

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The assignment, which was like no other, was to essentially trick the Germans on where the American troops were located and to showcase their strength. Their efforts, which lasted for eight days, gave General George S. Patton the chance to send in everything he had against German defenses.

The 23rd traveled across Europe, setting up 20 operations in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany with deceptive convoys, divisions, and imaginary headquarters. They mimicked a variety of U.S. units but each one was personalized to each operation.

Part of their job was to mingle in cafes and create stories that weren’t real in case they were speaking to a spy. They also “recorded sounds of armored and infantry units were blasted from sound trucks; radio operators created phony traffic nets; and inflatable tanks, trucks, artillery and even airplanes were imperfectly camouflaged so they would be visible to enemy reconnaissance,” according to Ghost Army Legacy Project.

The website stated, “Its complement was more theatrical than military. It was like a traveling road show that went up and down the front lines impersonating the real fighting outfits.”

But the Ghost Army was often in danger, suffered casualties, and deaths but they also saved thousands of lives, especially at the very end of the war.

Both units of the Ghost Army remained a secret for more than five decades until a U.S. Army analyst found their story and was fascinated. He said, “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.” ​

Sen. Ed Markey said, “The men recruited for the Ghost Army were men of muscle, but also men of the mind. They were creative, original thinkers that used engineering, art, architecture and advertising to wage battle with the enemy. Their weapons were unconventional, but their patriotism was unquestionable.”

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Sen. John Kennedy said, “I am proud of this Ghost Army legislation, and I hope to see it move forward and pass so that these fine Americans can receive the recognition they have long deserved. God bless the members of the Ghost Army.”

In the past, Congressional Gold Medals have been awarded to The Doolittle Raiders (2015) The Monuments Men (2013), Women Air Service Pilots (2010) and the Native American Codetalkers (2008).